Until working full time at Suburban Newspapers I always had a part-time job in retail. I worked in the home furnishings section of a plant nursery, and through college and beyond, I worked at Fossil.
There are days when I miss Fossil (I never miss the plant nursery). I miss working with my friends there, the discount and the products.
I also met one of my current roommates by working at Fossil and am still close with many of the girls there. However, for every one thing I miss about working retail, there are about five things I don’t miss.
Not everyone is an easy customer. Not everyone wants your help. Not everyone is considerate. Below are a couple of stereotypes and common customers I have dealt with over my years in retail. If you are one of these listed, please conciously try to perk up next time you enter a store.
1. The person who waltzes in five minutes before close: We don’t care if you’re about to buy $1,000 worth of stuff — OK, maybe $1,000 we care. But most of the time, the people walking in at 8:55 p.m. are there to putz around.
It always killed me when they finally asked at 9:03 p.m., “What time do you close?”
“Well pretty much now.”
“Oh . . .” and then they continue walking.
Those at office jobs know what it’s like five minutes before 5 p.m. and that person who hasn’t gotten back to you all day finally calls. Retail people don’t care for that either. Unless you are walking in with a game plan to buy something quickly, wait.
2. The cellphone talker: Hey, if you don’t want my help and want to walk and talk, that’s totally cool. It’s when you snap at me to come help and only point and gesture because you are too busy hearing about your friend’s mom’s cat’s health issues on the phone to have a conversation with me that we have a problem.
3. The grouch: If you are at a mall, you are out shopping! For fun stuff like clothes, shoes, etc.! Why are you in a bad mood? It happened often where I would simply ask someone how their day was going and got back a very snappy, “I’m just looking.” All you had to do was say, “It’s going well,” and we could’ve been done, but OK.
4. The lazy customer: You have the shirt, wallet, necklace, whatever in your hand. You love it. You start walking up to the register. You look at the price. You set it down right away on a table, display, rack or somewhere that you definitely didn’t pick it up from. Just walk it back to its rightful place. Or even hand it to an employee to put it back. Would you like if I came to your house, took the milk out of the fridge to pour a glass, decided I was no longer in the mood for it, and just left it on your sofa? I didn’t think so.
5. The funny guy/gal: Wanna hear my least favorite joke?
“There’s no tag on this? Does that mean it’s free?”
Hardy. Har. Har.
6. The complainer: There is a correct way to handle a problem with something you just bought. Many do not know what that way is. Storming in, yelling, demanding to see the manager, being offered a refund and still being a sourpuss will definitely warrant workers speaking poorly about you the second the door shuts behind you. Trust me.
7. The hopeful: Oh, you bought that wallet 16 years ago and you think we still carry that same style? That’s cute.
The bottom line, folks, is that retail workers are people, not magicians who can make sold out items appear.
They aren’t the competitor who’s selling the same thing for less money. They aren’t the personal assistant who will carry all your stuff and be at your complete beck and call.
Just smile, be polite and put that pair of earrings back where you got them, because they are watching you.