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The Trouble With Shopping Centres

Fat Mum Slim /


I walked out of the supermarket, holding a grocery bag of food for the kids draped over my arm, and my phone in the other. My phone had been playing up, so I restarted it to get it revived again.

A guy much younger than myself, probably still in his teens, stood outside the supermarket and bellowed out to me, “Are you reading my text? That night we had together was awesome, wasn’t it?”

I looked up, saw him behind one of those tables trying to sell something, and I gave an awkward laugh and then gave him a look that said, “AREYOUFREAKINGFORREAL?”

I was almost old enough to be his mum. Inappropriate much? And I was most certainly not buying a ticket or whatever it was he was selling after that encounter. I walked on, and back to my family.

Those stalls with the people aggressively selling stuff in the middle of the shopping centres get me EVERY time. The other day I saw a guy at the organic moisturiser place massaging cream into the hands of a masculine bikie dude. I smirked. He got done too.

I’ve tried many techniques. I’ve walked by with the screaming toddler with a look to say, “Don’t even mess with me!”, I’ve looked away, I’ve looked at my phone, I’ve engaged them and told them about all the other charities I support, and my most successful technique has simply been the old, “Hello, I’m OK thanks. Have a great day” and then quickly walking on.

Hubby has it down pat. He DOES NOT engage. Ever. They get me, and he’ll be walking on disengaging with the world. We’ve worked out when we’re together that we pretend to be deep in conversation about something and they generally leave us to be.

I don’t like to be rude to people, but those people at the stalls get me kinda anxious. I’m bad at saying no {ask my spoiled kids}. They get me all frazzled and before I know it I’m buying tickets, or creams, or giving out my number so that some superannuation company can call me at a later date. I’m a sucker.

I know I’m not alone. A friend was in the City, rushing to catch a train, and the same charity who almost got him every afternoon narrowed in to get him again. They got eye contact and they were going in. They almost had him. He saw the train in his sights and he wanted home. So he rushed by before they could stop him, and he turned back briefly to say, “I HATE WHALES!”

Of course he didn’t hate whales, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get past them. It’s quite the battle.


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  • Donna

    I’m so happy that someone else shares my anxiety. Our little Coles up the road is our corner shop but I’ll drive miles to go elsewhere if there is a stall set up at the door. Except for Legacy and Red Poppies, they are truly staffed by volunteers.

    I hate being rude too, everyone has to make a living. My method, if I can’t avoid, is similar to yours. As soon as I make eye contact I smile and say thanks but no thanks but good luck.

    Surely the shopping centres don’t make enough from the stalls to make it worthwhile annoying us customers.

    • Oh yes, I’ll ALWAYS buy a legacy or red poppy. You can tell the difference between a volunteer and a spruiker!

  • Lynda Delaney

    It is actually illegal for them to approach you, these sellers in shopping centres, it is only ok if you decide to go up to them on your own terms. I regularly see eldery pensioners being conned and I want to drag them away. I don’t look at them even if they speak to me I just walk on by. Hubby usually says in an EXTREMELY loud voice – ‘it is illegal to harass me, don’t do it’ … lol

    • This is good news for me, I didn’t know it was illegal. Thank you for this information. Hubby was impressed when I told him too!

  • I say, “I’m fine thanks. Can’t stop.”
    If they engage me further, I explain that I have reached my charity quota and I wish them well but I’m not interested.
    Sometimes they’re so damn aggressive! They flirt with you, try to discredit your chosen charities (it’s none of their business and how dare they), try to guilt you if you have to walk past them twice after saying you can’t stop. BLAH BLAH.
    I avoid eye contact sometimes – it’s just easier. I feel rude, but then I think they’re rude for being so pushy and inappropriate too. It’s my life! I don’t have to justify anything to a stranger who wants to sell me stuff or have me donate. I just say that over and over in my head to give me courage haha. Sometimes it works, sometimes I fail miserably!

  • Jenni from styling curvy

    If you were his mother I bet you would have raised him to have more bloody respect…what a dick!

  • Jen Young

    This happens in Hawaii too! That is one of the reasons I don’t like going to the mall these days. So irritating!!!!

  • Barb N

    .. they can be a bit pushy… I just ignore them and keep on walking… xxx Barb

  • I hate going shopping sometimes all because of these people, I have learnt over the years just to smile politely and say no and just keep walking. Sometimes if I know that they will be there I will enter or leave through a different enterance….

  • Denise Vermillion

    I try not to make eye contact, but either way, I don’t slow down and just give them a breezy “No, thank you!”. I also do this with telemarketers. A nice “No, thank you!” and I hang up. I don’t feel that’s rude because they cold-called me in the first place.

  • michelle barrington

    I can’t stand it and it makes me feel slightly anxious too. I hate it the most when they talk to the kids. That is when I get really cross. I wish shopping centres wouldn’t allow them.

  • Those chuggers get me every time. I always pretend that I’m on the phone (which is always on silent) so it can’t ring and catch me out!

  • OH MY GOODNESS – I can not believe that teen punk said that to you!!? WHAT?! They are the worst, I try hard to do your Huz’ trick, but sometimes they are too good. If I do engage – I’m suddenly in a roaring hurry, sorry – I’m all “I’m in a R-U-S-H……………”

  • Virginia aka Wirg Hampson

    ha ha, I always have to have dark glasses on when I’m outside so most of the time, they can’t make eye contact with me. I rarely ever have any cash on me either so I am not lying to them when I say I have no money. Most of the time. I just walk past looking around and making like I’m busy (which I usually am, rushing somewhere) and they don’t catch me. I’m wondering if it’s coz I’m only 4ft 8″ (which is about 141cms??) and I have this ‘don’t mess with me, I’ve been around longer than you’ look about me. I can usually get away or boycott them. It’s the ones that walk after you that freak me out and I’ve had to put my hand up and and say stop, don’t come any closer, I don’t want to be rude but I will if you keep following me. It’s life, it is what it is and mostly I avoid going to shopping centres.

  • Kat

    I used to BE one of these people, when I first moved to the city and couldn’t find work. The conditions and pay are terrible. There is so much pressure to sell, so I understand the despairation, this kids tactics are terrible though! What a little punk!

    I’ll often give a pleasant response and walk by, if I’m inclined though I will stop, tell them that I used to do what they do, share my story and tell them they can do better and find a better job!!