Things I Learned While Working Retail

I worked in the world of retail for a couple years after moving to the New River Valley. It was a dirty job, but it was a necessity. That extra paycheck was needed to help make ends meet. Over the course of my first few months working part-time, I made some observations. They include, but are not limited to, the following…

  • I’m very good at cleaning mirrors – More often than not, I was to be found in the fitting room. I figure they put me back there because of my excellent people skills. Whatever the reason, the person that closed the fitting room was responsible for cleaning up the joint. That included the bathrooms. And that is a completely different category of observations, which may or may not be covered in this post. But if you’ve ever been in a fitting room, you’re probably aware that there are a lot of mirrors. And those mirrors get kind of smudged. So I cleaned those things every so often. And I got really good at making sure they were clean. By the time I was done, they were so clean, you could see your face in them.
  • 83% of all customers take their clothes off inside out – That percentage may not be entirely accurate. But since 74% of all statistics are made up on the spot, I’m pretty sure I can get away with it for an insignificant blog post. My number has to be close, though. If I had a nickel for every time I had to fold or re-hang an article of clothing that had been turned inside out, I would never have needed a second job. As many people that do this, I’m a little surprised that we don’t see people walking around in public with their clothes on inside out. America, is it really so difficult to make sure the clothes you’ve tried on but are not buying are turned the right way? Who am I asking? Of course it’s so difficult.
  • Women are slobs – Before you ladies grab your torches and pitchforks, hear me out. I’ve spent a great deal of my life listening to a number of women in my life complain that men, in general, are slobs. I won’t necessarily deny that. I mean, yes, it’s a broad generalization that is not always true 100% of the time. And so is the statement I just made. But to the women of the world who believe that men hold the monopoly on sloppiness, I invite you to visit the store in which I worked. Peruse the women’s denim wall. Take a stroll through women’s clearance. Compare the ladies’ restroom with the men’s room. Once you’ve done that, you may not complain so much about the fellas in your lives.
  • Stupidity is a familial trait – I know that sounds incredibly mean. But I find it to be a relief. If it’s a hereditary thing, it means that stupidity isn’t necessarily contagious. Which is fantastic, because that means I can’t catch it like a communicable disease while working in the fitting room. For years I’ve said that if stupidity was a fatal disease, it would be the number one killer in America. At least it isn’t airborne. At the moment, I can’t think of anything specific that happened in my time at the store. If you followed me on Facebook or Twitter in those days, you could have seen nearly live updates when something epically stupid occurred. It wasn’t really life, since I wasn’t supposed to have my phone on me when I was working. But once my shift ended, I blew up the feeds.
  • Children who are often adorable become evil when turned loose in a public place – I love kids. I wouldn’t have kept my day job for so long if I didn’t. At school, the kids were cute and inquisitive (most of the time). When they were in the care of their parents in a public place, something happened to them. They became loud, obnoxious, and abrasive. And I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have soccer balls and footballs sitting out for the kids to get their hands on in our store. In my time working retail, I was hit by no fewer than 10 of those soccer balls. Again, this is a broad generalization, but it covers a lot of the kids that came in through those doors. I do like the parents who weren’t under the impression that a night out at the clothing store was an invitation to let their children run free with no regard for anyone else in the world or the property of the store.
  • People have no concept of time – This is another rant about parenting, for the most part. So many people came into the store after 9:00 p.m. And they came in dragging 3-year-olds with them. I’m not too hip to the parenting scene and I don’t know what a good “bedtime” for a 3-year-old might be. But I’m pretty sure it’s not 10:30 p.m., which is what time it must be by the time you spend an hour looking around the store and throwing clothes on the floor in women’s clearance and then make the drive back to your home and wrestle your toddler into bed. You know why your kid is fighting you on going to bed? Because she’s wired. You kept her out really late and now she doesn’t want to go to sleep. She wants to watch Conan.

Those are some of the things I learned in my two years working retail. I’m sure there are a number of readers out there who have worked in retail at some point in your lives. I’m sure there are some who still do work in retail. What have you learned? Let me know in the comments!


One thought on “Things I Learned While Working Retail

  1. You are so on the money with this. I, too, worked retail for a number of years and people in general were messy. How difficult is it to put books away?? I often thought that parents considered the store a babysitting service.

    We took turns cleaning the bathrooms. The most hated job in the store. There, the men were greater slobs. But now that I’m in a high school and share a bathroom with students, the girls are total slobs, with no regard for the custodians who have to clean up after them. They tell us that the boys bathrooms are not nearly as bad as the girls, although the boys prank more. Like intentionally clogging toilets or sinks so a waterfall ensues. But the custodians all tell us that if there were one job they would get rid of if possible, it would be the girl’s bathrooms.

    I totally relate to this. I feel that over a cup of coffee or two, we could talk about retail for hours. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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