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Thelma Ritter’s first movie role was a brief, uncredited part as a frustrated mother unable to find the toy that Kris Kringle promised to her son. Santa saves the day, however, by telling her that Schoenfeld’s has the fire engine little Peter wants. Kris later tells another mother that Macy’s rival, Gimbels, has better skates for her daughter.

Later nominated for six Academy Awards, Thelma Ritter rose to fame as a character actress. She was frequently cast as a sassy housekeeper who wasn’t afraid to tell the boss off, and her bio boasts, “But she was also fiercely protective, and neither trusted nor tolerated fools or con men.”

Was the miracle on 34th Street the appearance of Santa Claus, or was the miracle the appearance of a company who trusted their own strengths so well that they allowed Ms. Jones to go elsewhere?

Can you overcome every objection? Should you? What should you do when you can’t? Can you meet her needs by telling her you can’t meet her needs? Can you do it in a way that guarantees she will give you the right of first refusal for her next furniture foray?

Would Thelma buy your snake oil?

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