Working at a camera shop is wonderful. You can play with cameras all day.
Working at a camera shop is horrible. You have to play with cameras all day.
Neither of the sentiments above apply if you are a customer. Then being at a camera shop is exciting...but totally confusing. The modern world is presenting you with so many choices and alternatives that you are hard pressed to make a decision. You might want to press the button, but unfortunately Kodak is no longer there to do all the rest.
The keen enthusiast dives into the internet and reads every forum and rumour site there is. If they are of an (ahem)..."older generation"...they look out CHOICE magazine from the local library and photocopy pages of advice. I can say this because I am of the same generation and go to the library regularly to look at the lingerie magazines. Readers of CHOICE would do well to remember that every public library has a fiction as well as non-fiction section...
Okay, armed with a looseleaf of papers and a mind full of internet camera equipment flame wars, the prospective customer comes in the shop. If they know what they want, see it on the shelf, open their wallet and whack out their credit card, the whole thing is easy. If they present 5 different opinions about 5 different cameras gleaned from other sources, it all starts to look like the battle of Verdun on a wet night.
One of the smartest things that the prospective camera buyer can do is draw up a list for themselves...in their own handwriting...of what they are NOT interested in. If they don't do portraits in the studio they don't need a portrait lens. ie. they don't need an 85mm f:1.4. If they don't want to go out taking landscape shots of the beach they don't need a 10-20 f:3.5 lens. If they are not interested sports shots they don't need a pro-DSLR with 10 fps capability. And so on...This can eliminate a lot of worry.
After the person thinks out what they don't want, they can think what they do want. Family shots, wedding coverage, fungus in the forest at f:4...whatever. Just as long as they are honest with themselves about their core interests.
Finally, they can see if there are any really odd things that would be fun, but not be absolutely necessary. Automatic toast recognition. HDR food baby sunset mode. With star trails. No matter what the customer can think of, they cannot think wider than the Japanese designers, because the Japanese designers drink at lunchtime. The trick with this category of features is not to make them the central point of choice.
Or CHOICE, if it comes to that...