The digital GSM service had just been introduced in the UK and the retailer was starting to sell handsets, with a few brick-like models on offer from the likes of Nokia, Ericsson and Phillips.
Mobiles were an unknown phenomena back then and most of the sales staff would avoid approaching customers around the phone display unit, partly because they knew little about this strange new technology, but mainly because the sale was too time-consuming; it involved setting up a contract and processing a fair bit of paperwork for relatively little revenue. This soon changed, however, when Orange sent a rep to the store for some product training.
Product training was normally the most boring activity on earth – half-an-hour of your life wasted as a complete dullard explained the inner workings of a Hotpoint tumble dryer. The Orange rep changed our perceptions though; she was a stunningly attractive blonde lady dressed in a short cut suit and high heels.
Suddenly all the young testosterone filled guys were very keen to take part in the training sessions and each week we sat there rapt as she took us through the features of the latest Nokia handsets. Before long we knew the phones inside out and could flog them with ease – unsurprisingly the Orange products were our best sellers.
Looking back it was a seminal experience for me, instigating a fascination with mobile technology that has continued ever since.