Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you shouldn't judge customers by the way they dress, speak or act.
Years ago, a colleague of mine sold stereo equipment at a regional electronics store outside of Tacoma, Wash. One night, the staff was preparing to lock things up when a scruffy-looking young man entered. He was dressed much more casually than the typical customer: torn jeans, a soiled sweatshirt and a ratty ball cap. He sauntered through the stereo department with his hands deep in his pockets, glancing at products seemingly beyond his economic status.
Assuming the young man was just killing time, the staff ignored him and continued getting the store ready for closing. My colleague, however, approached the man and welcomed him. The young man expressed interest in an assortment of stereo components and speakers. As his co-workers looked on incredulously, my friend rang the sale and the young man paid him from a roll of cash he pulled out of his pocket.
After the customer loaded the boxes into his car and left, my colleague's co-workers speculated about how this grungy young man who looked like he'd been sleeping in a bus station could afford a few thousand dollars worth of stereo equipment.
My friend, who'd chatted up his customer, explained: The young man had just driven home from Los Angeles, where his band had signed a deal with a major record label, and the first thing he wanted to do with his advance was buy his family some gifts to celebrate.
The young man went on to achieve fame and fortune with his friends in a rock band that helped fuel a fashion trend for grungy attire: Nirvana.
My friend succeeded in that sale because he looked past the customer's appearance and followed a simple rule: assume every customer who walks into your store is there to buy. Ignoring customers by assuming they're not interested in buying or unable to pay based on their age, dress, gender, behavior or any other factor is a guarantee for lost sales.
Source: National Jeweler