Retail Hell Memories: Money, Money Chages Everything...Nah !



From Basement Rat:

 When I went to work for a very high end women’s retail clothing chain, I thought that I had taken a step up.  I had been employed in small boutiques and specialty stores, but the pay was low and the days were slow. With the big store I could expect competitive wages and good hours, not to mention a liberal employee discount.  As most pipe dreams are, it was full of holes and not what it seemed.  The pay was tied to a commission system and the hours were the whim of several managers who never seemed to speak to each other when putting together the weekly work schedule. The employee discount was part of the dress code. You had to wear the clothing that was being sold  at the moment and had to keep current with the season . Not to mention that you couldn’t wear last season’s offerings or you’d face being sent home with a warning.

This was a happening  place, the muzak was loud and pulsing from 9:00a.m. until 9:00p.m and the place was always crowded with upcoming fashionistas, the ultra rich , creepy ooglers of young women, shoplifters and on occasion, social justice warriors. So unlike my sleepy retail past. There were the usual fussy customers, the discount rat millionaires  and uptown  moms of teen screamers, but there were also more of the incredibly self- entitled wealthy horrors that one only thinks exist as characters in comedies about big  fancy department stores. The dressing rooms were large, well appointed, individual rooms (basically rivaling a NYC studio apartment). Large triptyck mirrors, and a settee completed the trying on  experience. We sales associates were on hand to coddle, fawn, bring more clothing into the dressing rooms and provide refreshments ( cookies , coffee , bottled water etc. was brought in for big spenders ).

All of the amenities did little to stop the piggish ways of many of the “finer” shoppers, clothing was still piled on the floor of every dressing room along with the coffee cups, stepped on cookies and water bottles spilled on the merchandize. The managers would blame the sales associates for not “handling” the customer’s needs properly. The spacious changing rooms actually amounted to a shoplifters’ paradise.  There were no limits to what you could bring in to the fitting room and no one questioned shopping bags, backpacks or large handbags. According to management, we catered to a higher form of life who wouldn’t think of thievery, yeah, and I have a bridge to sell you.

 A big sale meant a big commission, that is unless the items were brought back the next day in bulk, with stains, tears, smelling of alcohol and cigarettes.  Of course the management would always take the clothing back no questions asked because these were well heeled uber customers who were the meat and potatoes of the store.

I once had an expensive silk lingerie set brought back covered in bodily fluid, the solid brown kind. The Prada sunglass wearing client looked at me as if I had  two heads when I said that she couldn’t return it for health department reasons. She screeched for a manager and her toupee topped , orange skinned  husband , who had fallen asleep in a large comfy chair.  One of our managers toadied over and took back the garment, refunded the obsidian card, belittled me and bowed down to the “caca” goddess and her silent mealy husband. 

Aside from moneyed megalomaniacs, the social justice warriors would regularly hold sit ins, protests, shame offs and generally steal while making sure we knew about sweatshops, silkworm abuse, fur is death ,consumerism  is against humanity, eat the rich and so on. Fine, we working slobs had to live through it all while management scurried off to safety.

Not that all employees were created equal.  The older ones, with many years under their retail service belts were just there to die a death with dignity, still hoping some old wealthy customer would remember them in their will. Quite a few of the young sharks were also fashion design students, hoping to snag a backer for their hot new “line”, or at the very least, connections to a fashion house . I fell in the middle, middle aged and hoping to make the rent.

After years of inhaling parfums de mucho lire, handling small bitey dogs while Mamam tried on sheaths that were three sizes too small and generally living the life of a beaten down servant, I left the chandeliered halls of taste and celebrity to retire as a schlub living in the world’s largest invisible trailer park…Brooklyn, N.Y….although it Is becoming the high rent district …soooo

--Basement Rat







Nasty Ass Thieves: Stroller Shoplifter Confronted



From sarah_the_intern, Tales From Retail:

My manager from my old retail job shared with me this story recently.

My manager got a call from the store next door saying a woman with a stroller had just stolen some merchandise from them. The woman came in my manager’s store with a stroller (for her dog, not a kid), so he was already eyeing her. He watched her place clothing on the bottom part of the stroller as she walked around. The employees wouldn’t let her take the stroller into a dressing room because they already knew what she was trying to do.

So the woman, with clothes still hidden in the stroller, tried to leave the store. My manager stood in front of her stroller and loudly demanded she give him all the clothes she’s currently trying to steal. She tried to play it off like she forgot because she’s so angry that the employees wouldn’t let her bring the stroller into the dressing room. My manager informed her that the neighboring store had already called him. She handed over the nearly-stolen clothes, which added up to over $300.










Entitled Customers: We all work in retail!


Jason 019

From schuss42, Tales From Retail:

I’m at the National Retail Federation conference in NYC this week. 40,000 retail people swarming around this convention. Of course, I’m reading TFR while I eat my lunch because I’m addicted... and it seemed appropriate.

In line at a busy food vendor, 20 minute wait as it’s peak lunch rush. Two ahead of me Water Guy is ringing up, Fashion Brand Exec is behind him, and then me. We are hungry, it’s a mob, we are juggling our food and wallets. Food booth is a counter with a prep line, mini fridge of sodas, cooks on the back wall. There is no “back room”.

WG wants a bottle of water with his meal. Very Friendly Cashier says “sorry sir, we are out of water. But some of the other stores have some or we have soda and tea”.

WG: No, I only want water VFC: I’m sorry sir, I just said, we don’t have any. If you’d like to ring up your meal it looks like that line across the way is pretty short and you could buy one there. WG: Get me one from the back VFC... repeats his offer looking confused WG: I don’t care about your issues, get me one from wherever you keep them or go over to that other store and get me one.

... and here he utters the line ...

WG: I work in retail, I know how this works.

... remember where we are...

FBE has had enough and she steps up to take charge.

FBE: Hey dumbass, we all work in retail and that’s NOT how this works. Pay your bill and step off!

VFC contains his smirk just barely...

FBE enjoyed her free cookie immensely I think. Also she probably outranked that guy by 5 levels.

When I got to the register I cracked “Hey, I work in retail..” and shared a good laugh with VFC.

It’s fun to laugh at terrible people.





Magical Black Friday Stickers


Carolanne 022

From  InsanityPrelude, Tales From Retail:

I just love stickers, you guys. Recently, a giant roll of stickers has appeared at every checkout. I hope this becomes a permanent feature. Within the past weekend alone:

  • A box of donuts turned out to be busted in some way so that the lid would sort of skew and pop open whenever it was picked up. I didn't have tape, but using a couple stickers I was able to fix it to close properly. The lady buying them loved it.

  • As I was heading to my lunch break, I encountered a dad leading a gaggle of small children. I still had some stickers in my vest pocket, so I offered them to the kids with a cheery "Happy Sunday!" One of the kids held up his sticker and declared to his dad that this was the most happiest Sunday.

  • Most importantly, I got a bawling, overtired toddler to settle down by offering a sticker. These things are magic.

Just a little post-black Friday positivity post. :)

-- InsanityPrelude








Appliance Department Hell: Yes Ma’am, They’re appliances. They’re going to be expensive.


Jason 027

From  All_Nighter_Long, Tales From Retail:

During this tale, I work in a major appliance department in my store. It took a bit of work to get myself there but I eventually did.

What I’ve learned is that it’s 1 part fulfilling orders, 2 parts solving issues.

Today came a chance where I had to try to do both.

At this moment, it early morning and I’m going through my morning routine tasks (Checking signage, updates from manufactures about products, cleaning display units, etc.) When a customer comes in my area I immediately greet her.

Me: “Hello, is there anything I can help you find today?”

Cu: “ Yes, I am looking for a freezer.”

She gestures to one of the larger chest freezers we have in store.

Me : “Okay, Is there anything in particular you’re looking for in one?”

Cu: “Yes I am looking for one that is $125”

Yes, she did ask for that specific price. Now normally they don’t in come that low of a price, and if they do they’re really low quality and very small. But hey, you get what you pay for. I look through the system, and our cheapest unit comes at $165

Me: “ I don’t see anything for that price miss. Our most inexpensive unit online comes at about $165”

Cu: “Ohhhhh, that’s expensive.”

Me : Internally “ They’re major appliances lady. They’re going to be expensive.”

Cu: “And shipping is free?”

Me: “for purchases over $300 yes. However, because of the item you’re considering is below that. We would have to charge a $70 trucking charge.”

Jason 001aIt’s my understanding we are the cheapest for that fee. But we don’t run into that issue a lot. As most people buy items that are well above that.

Cu: “$70! Why $70?”

Me: “Because unfortunately major appliances cannot be delivered via the postal service or any typical third-party. So we have to hire a logistics company to delivery and install it.”

Cu: “and what if I pick it up here in the store.”

Ah, Yes. Because our store has mountains of room for major appliance orders. If we did do this, it would a logistical disaster to manage.

Me:” Unfortunately that is not a service we offer for major appliances.”

Cu:” You have one here, why Can I not get that one?”

Me: “Because appliance orders are delivered from a warehouse and we can’t sell floor models unless they’re clearance.”

Cu: “But $160 and $70 shipping is too much. Does [Neighboring city] store have one.”

A quick call to them shows that they do have some, but none that could be sold off the floor. I tell her the news.

Cu: “Well can you give me a discount, or take it off the delivery fee.”

Me: “unfortunately not ma’am. This is incurred by the delivery company, not by [My company]. and I can’t discount it to cover that price as it’s grounds for termination and arrest in my company. Even if I wanted to, I would need manager approval to do so.”

Cue another 5 minute rant of expensive her option for purchase is, meanwhile I have customers who’lll spend 4-7K on a typical order. I get that people are on a budget and have issues at home sometimes, and I’ll try to work with them based on their situation to help them out(Hell we comped a lady’s $1800 order $300 plus rented out a washer and dryer from another company for her because we screwed up). But com’on, Don’t come here with unrealistic expectations. If you can’t afford it, just accept it and try to find one used or refurbished somewhere else.

TLDR: Major appliances are expensive.

-- All_Nighter_Long