The thoughts expressed in this post are purely my opinions alone and in no way reflections of the company I’m employed with.
If you’ve never worked in any sort of retail environment, it’s difficult to understand the reasoning behind making the bare minimum for all the responsibility involved in customer service, it’s also difficult to understand why such a simple job seems so impossible at times. You’re told from day 1 to think that “the customer is always right”, and you’ll be assisting people your own age or younger in picking out things that ensure they aren’t in the same boat you are. What drives a sales associate to stay with a company? What drives a person to leave such an easy breezy job?
The top 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of working retail:
1. Normal people don’t know how to fold clothes. (or ‘edge’ clothing on hangers, or tuck tags out of site, or put said clothing back in the correct spot) When you pick up a folded item to look at it, then make an effort to fold it back, that’s SO SWEET, but I still have to refold it “hamburger-hotdog” style vs. your attempt at folding it in half, so save yourself some time shoppers, just leave it on top of the pile. Also please just hand me the pile of clothing you decided you didn’t want instead of leaving small surprises in the wrong places all over the store.
2. The customer is always right, unless they’re totally wrong, but even if they are totally wrong, you can’t tell them that. Lemme get this straight- you’ve owned this top for 6 months and now you want to return it with no tags on it (smelling like your perfume)? Me telling you our strict 60 day return policy isn’t good enough, you need to speak to a different manager, and then you’ll need to call Client Relations when she tells you the same thing. GIRL BYE.
3. That feeling when you help someone and they are TRULY appreciative of your help. That feeling keeps me coming back daily. There’s nothing like someone who feels confident in who they are and what they’re doing, and being able to say that you helped them accomplish that, it is the MOST rewarding experience. Seeing a client’s eyes light up while she’s looking at herself, and being able to reaffirm how great she looks is awesome. Who cares if I’m making minimum wage, my heart is full!
4. Your online returns will be the death of me. I understand the convenience of purchasing things online, especially now that I have a child, but did you know you can also return those items via the online packaging provided in your order slip? I’ve worked so hard all day to get some money into the store, and it all just got wiped out cause you had wine last tuesday night, stayed up til 2am and spent $300 on clothes you *thought* you could rock. Seriously when I see someone come in “just looking” with a giant box in their stroller, it reminds me that I need to be on Prozac.
5. The employee discount is necessary for life. As a fashion junkie, I don’t know HOW I managed to buy clothes before my employee discount. When I recently took some time off and would go shopping, my brain would automatically register the price minus 40%, imagine my surprise getting to the register and having to pay for full price. #thestruggle
6. We close at 9 and you walk in at 8:57. I’ve been there before, when I really needed something for that specific evening, and was running behind because I got off work late. I’m happy to help someone who needs something last minute, I’ll wardrobe you and make you look amazing for your event! However, when you come in “just to take a quick look” that lasts 30 minutes and then only purchase 1 item I feel like I’m being disrespected. I have a life and an amazing toddler to get home to, and thanks to your piddle-farting around I just missed story time in bed tonight. Thanks.
7. Your regular customers become friends. This is another one of the amazing perks of retail. You have people who love your brand and level of service SO MUCH that they come to visit at least once a week. You know them by name, know what’s going on in their lives, share baby pics with them, they are friends and anytime they come into the store you know you’re about to have a great time. They listen to you when you tell them something isn’t flattering, as well as when you tell them they HAVE to try something on because you know it will look amazing on them. These are the people we’re here for, and they mean so much to us!
8. No one reads their coupons. Getting the best deal possible is everyone’s goal, and we want to give you the best deal possible so you feel great about your purchase, but if the coupon clearly states “cannot be used on clearance or sale merchandise” I can’t just magically make it work. Our computer systems are wired to know what they can permit and what isn’t allowed, so no attitude you give me or threat to stop shopping at my store can change the fact that I can’t use your $20 off coupon on a $19.99 sale top! #sorrynotsorry
9. When someone asks you how much something will be during a 50% off sale. I mean, you are off on a saturday which means you clearly make more money than I do, but I have to do that simple math for you?
10. Your co-workers are your second family. This is so serious. They understand all your struggles and celebrate those credit card victories with you. They come to your baby shower, bring chocolate in on the weekends, take over when you have a difficult client, tell you what to buy, tell you what not to buy, give hugs, binge drink with you, the list goes on and on. We are a family unit and we all have each other’s backs, and when you contemplate moving on with your life, you also have to face the fact that you’ll be moving on without them, your family won’t be there at a 9-5 office job, things will be different if you switch stores or career paths. They’ll always be there for you and celebrate your life achievements with you no matter what, but it won’t be the same. At the end of the day it’s the people you work with that you love deep down, and can’t imagine not working with. ❤
“You fold sweaters for a living”