Originally Posted by 4Rules
In large stores, such a response is appropriate. In small stores, however, etiquette demands that we ask permission to browse, rather than being presumptuous. For example: "No thank you. Is it alright is we just look around?"
Again, you have to remember that you are not in a Wal-Mart or a Cabelas; you are a guest in this guy's shop. In a small shop, to be polite, one should never assume that anything is free for the taking. Just as we should always ask before we handle any merchandise, we should always ask before walking out with anything, no matter what.
You were in a confrontation with Steve.
What you describe is correct...If you were entering Steve's home and rummaging through his safe. You are also correct that you are a guest in the shop, and the onus is on the owner to treat the potential customer as a welcome guest. But this only applies in a business that actually wants to stay in business, I avoid "Gun Club" shops, if only because I don't want to hear all the know-it-all drivel. There are plenty these type of shops out there and never grow past selling a couple shotguns and revolvers a week.
I've never "asked" for permission to look around a place of business that had a display area and was open to the public.