An inside look into the world of retail

By Melissa Steven
November 4, 2004

Retail in my opinion is one of the hardest jobs a person could have. I have been working in retail stores for the past four years and all I can say is God bless the people who actually enjoy it and can take the mental abuse from the worst customers.

I have worked at two major retail stores in my working career, one at a clothing store and another at a shoe store, both on the Main Line.

The Main Line is filled with wealthy people who have too much money and too much free time on their hands in my opinion. I will not name the stores I have worked at, but I wanted to offer some inside information on what it like working at an average retail clothing and shoe store.

Most customers see the employee as their slave almost. They treat you like you are below them and that your only goal should be to please them. Now as an employee it is my job to assist a customer in any of their needs, but it not the customer’s right to ever be rude. This happens a lot because people on the Main Line have money and I guess they feel like they are better than everyone else.

Most employees spend their time making the store look nice and presentable. We spend long hours at night rearranging the store only to please the customer. When you walk into a store and see one of us folding and rearranging a table to make it look nice for you, do not walk up to it in front of our faces and mess the display up for us to fix again. Try to put back the clothing the way you found it. It really is not that hard to do.

Then when a customer leaves over 15 items in a dressing room all in big pile, with all of the clothes inside out, do not waste our time just trying on clothes and making a mess when you know you are not going to buy a single thing. Put back some of your mess.

When we do not have a size you need or a specific color you want in a sweater do not shoot the messenger. It is not my fault that we sold out of the particular item.

Do not yell at me because you are dissatisfied.

Do you really think I’m trying to piss you off by not having what you want?

Is it really the end of the world that you cannot get that cashmere sweater in a size medium in yellow? No, you will live.

In my mind, at that moment when I’m getting yelled at for doing absolutely nothing wrong, I want to yell back so badly and tell them that are more important things in life than buying a cashmere sweater.

Maybe they should use that money and give it to someone who really needs it or to a good cause, because you know what, that sweater is not worth as much as it is priced because it was probably made in India for about $5 and you’re about to pay $140.

I find it funny how the wealthiest of my customers always want special treatment and special prices. If there is a line, they cannot wait in it because they are so busy and need to be rung up right away or they get mad. If you have time to shop, then you have time to wait in line. Everyone else has to do it.

My favorite complaint from a customer is when the customer actually complains to my manager that I was being very rude to them just because we did not have what they wanted. Of course I am never rude to customers or I would lose my job, but the fact that a customer actually would make that up astounds me.

Do they really need to sabotage my job because they did not get what they want? I guess so, but luckily my managers know me well enough that I would not do that or they even witness the incident and see that I am not rude, but only act very professional.

These are only a couple of incidents; I could tell about 50 more stories if I could. I know these incidents do not apply to all shoppers, but 80 percent of the time, people are just rude to us for no good reason.

After four years in retail and being mentally abused by rich Main Liners, there is no chance I’m working this holiday season.

I quit.

Posted to the web by Paul Nasella

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Melissa Steven

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