1. a respected client or patron that financially supports an establishment by using their services or purchasing their merchandise.
2. (in some stores) A common criminal that must be watched, video taped, herded through electronic detection devices like cattle and have their purchases riffled through & checked against the receipt by friskers at the exit of the store.
Store owner 1: "My customers are the most valued asset of my business. I'll not have them disturbed or badgered in any way."
Store boner 2: "Customer is just another word for an undetected criminal. If I had my way, I'd have the customers turn out their pockets before they leave, and have their purses, strollers and everything searched as well. In fact, that's what I'm working towards. Slowly, I remove one respectful treatment after another, until I am finally strip searching the customers as they leave. It's similar to the gradual way the Hitler removed the rights of the Jews prior to the holocaust, one by one. After a while, they will expect to be treated as the criminals that I'm sure the lot of them are, and will even defend my right to do it. And the best part is, the cost of all this added security won't increase the prices, because when I increase the security, I'll just decrease the customer service to compensate."