Gabi Stubb, Iiu Alajoki and Catharina Rotkirch began working at the Moomin Shop at Helsinki Airport when it first opened. None of them thought they would be happy to work in the same place for a decade.
“The best things about the shop are the atmosphere and the co-workers, who have since become some of my closest friends. Positive and happy customers are also one of the reasons why I like working here,” says Rotkirch.
Speed, efficiency and situational awareness are key for a salesperson working at an airport specialty shop. Sales situations at the airport can be very fast-paced, since customers need to hurry for their flights and the queues sometimes reach all the way to the door.
Alajoki and Rotkitch say that customers appreciate it if the salespeople are able to recommend a product right away. Over the years, the staff has really learned what products are best to keep in selection. They have also streamlined their work in order to free up more time to spend helping out customers.
Versatile customer service
Working as a salesperson at the airport Moomin shop is not always all about selling. Some customers also want to hear about Tove Jansson and Moomins in general. They are also often asked for information about the terminal, which makes it important to have a good sense of the airport and its services.
“The signs at the terminal have improved and become much clearer over the years, and Finavia educates people working at the airport,” comments Rotkirch.
Throughout the ten years, there has always been some development work underway at Helsinki Airport and, according to Alajoki and Rotkirch, this has especially resulted in improved services and a wider selection. Customer volumes have also grown and travelers from Asian countries in particular have become more numerous.
Memorable ash cloud
The most memorable event for all three was the ash cloud that originated from the volcanic eruption in Iceland in 2010. The airport was shut down completely for a week.
“We were standing by every day just in case the airport opened again. Luckily, we had nothing spoilable in our selection at the time,” Stubb recounts.
Stubb also remembers a German man who was standing in front of the shop making a business call. When the call finished, he came in to admire the shop and told the salespeople that it represented his childhood.
“He asked if he could shoot a live-video for Facebook and proceeded to look over every single product. He spent a hefty sum in items for his kids and still came back later for more,” says Stubb with a smile.
Special attention on children
Most challenging are those situations when there is no common language to communicate with the customer. However, the language barrier never gets in the way of serving customers and the staff always try to serve customers in their native language. Often a few words accompanied with appropriate gestures are enough.
“We’ve had very little trouble of any kind. The airport is a very safe place to work, because there hasn’t been any threatening situations or thefts. If help is needed, it arrives quickly,” says Stubb.
A lot of children visit the Moomin Shop and special attention is always paid to them. While their parents are shopping, the sales staff have time to entertain the kids. Sometimes children forget their soft toys in the shop. They are kept safe for a long time, since they often hold great value to their owners.