Monday, November 29, 2010

Working Retail Sucks!

I have to get something off my chest besides the remnants of the coconut cream pie I just foolishly ate.  I have a scrub business located in a flea market.  That's not my big confession but it is subject to some eye brow raising, I'm sure.  If you are a connoisseur of flea markets, you know that I am surrounded by discount socks, used video games, basement junk, puppies, dented canned goods, etc.

I'm there because it's cheap, so don't judge me.  What I really have to tell you is that retail sucks hugely!  I can't tell you how good it feels to say it out loud.  It's not just me.  If you haven't had the pleasure of waiting on people yourself, find someone who has.  We are everywhere in your life...lurking behind bushes, insanely babbling to ourselves.  For heaps of fun, Google "Retail Sucks" and settle back.  You'll see language from previously normal people that will just blow your hair back.

When we started our business I had no idea that working retail would be worse than being a social worker.  I apologize to my readers who are in that noble profession, but let's face it.  Social workers are notoriously underpaid, misunderstood and overworked. " We get no respect" to quote a famous American.   And you know what?  Working retail is at the bottom of the respect scale. 

Why has retail turned me against the human race?

See this child?  I swear she was in my store yesterday.  While her pregnant mother attempted to shop, she and her little brother ran amuk through the racks.  Every ten seconds she stopped and shrieked at the top of her lungs.  I mean the sound was at a level that could break glass.  Her face was flushed, her hair was disheveled and 666 was peeking out from under her bangs.

Fortunately for my hearing,  mother grabbed the demon seed and left the store. I have had clones of this little girl in my store for what seems like hours while the mother shops.  Sometimes there are a whole pack of them terrorizing my merchandise while the parents placidly ignore them.

My scrubs are on racks with wheels.  Can you see where this is going?  Children climb through the racks, push them around, and use them as weapons against their siblings.  Little girls love to grab scrub tops off racks and drag them over to their mothers.  Do the tops get back to the right place?  No.  Children pull tags off scrubs.  Aren't the little tykes cute?  What's even uglier are the parents who let this happen.  Why are you having more of them when you can't control the ones you have?  Thank God I don't sell glassware. 

Let's move on to cell phone addicts.  Brittany or Tiffany stroll through the store, ear glued permanently to their rhinestone encrusted cell phone, trashing your merchandise.  "OMG, I can get this top cheaper at Walmart.."  Hello!  I'm standing right next to you!  I own the store! They pull at the clothes with long painted nails.  Their tats and piercings are flaunted to the world.  "OMG!"  These girls are in health care somewhere.  Think about it.  Frightening.

Since I've mentioned Walmart, let's go there.  I'm standing behind my counter, a sweet sappy smile on my face, and customers start the "I can find it cheaper at..." routine.  First of all, this is just plain rude.  It's a flea market which means the owners are running the stores.  These aren't retail outlets or corporate businesses.  You talk trash about my store, you are insulting me.  How about I go to your job and criticize your work?  "Wow, Brandi, you didn't use the proper technique for lifting Mrs. Jones off her bedpan.  Oh, yea...your hair looks like hell too."  How does it feel, Brandi? 

Speaking of Walmart and other evil corporate discount chains, I cannot offer you, ugly customer, the same prices that they do.  Try to pull together the few brain cells you have and think this through.  Walmart has a gazillion dollars to spend on merchandise.  They buy huge quantities of products at ridiculously low prices and make you believe that they pass the savings on to you.  Actually, my prices are similar to the discount giants and lower than the chain uniform stores.  Think this through and I will speak slowly for your benefit.  My profit margin is low.  I do not own a vacation home.  My car is seven years old.  Do I sound like a corporate giant?  Do me a favor....keep on moving down the road to the nearest Walmart.  I'll even draw you a map.

Of course, we cannot forget the rack wreckers who put items back wherever they happen to end up.  And the women who leave make up all over the scrubs they try on.  And customers who won't speak to you when you ask if you can help them.  And customers who ask if you have scrubs with iguanas on them...really?  And customers who ask if I make the scrubs...really again.  And customers who ask if I'm here every I pack up a thousand items and take them home so I can play with them.

To be fair, there is the flip side.  I have many regular customers who treat me with respect and I look forward to seeing them.  Their mothers raised them right.  I'm venting to relieve the pressure on my blood vessels.  Just know that the clerk who waits on you at the department store or the convenience store is mentally plotting your death when you walk in.  They may be smiling, but they have many fantasy scenarios involving your untimely demise.  Be nice.  Be very, very nice. 


  1. I am in charge of maintenance for two hotels and I have long since quit being surprised what people will let their children do let alone what they will do themselves. We had one woman with two teenage boys who took pocket knives and slashed the ceiling all the way down the hall. When confronted with the damage the mother just asked us to send her a bill and she would pay for the damage. Later, the same family came and the boys decided to do something unmentionable in our pool that caused me to have to drain and clean it, shutting it down for 3 days in the process. Again, she asked for a bill and paid for the damage. All she needed to have done was teach her children a little respect when they were young and everyone would have been happier!

    I often wonder what this world is coming to!! I guess we have to be extra thankful for the great customers and grit our teeth and deal with the bad. Hang in there!

  2. I hear ya and I sympathize. I hope venting helped...that's what we're here for! I may ask you to return the favor, sometime - ha!

  3. I worked retail for a few years a long time ago when I needed a job fast. There were a lot of things I liked about it - nice customers, days off in the week, um....that was it really. There were more things I hated. Horrible, demanding, unreasonable customers, being on my feet all day long, monotony, slave driving managers etc. But you are right. No one cares. When everyone else is out shopping like crazy because it's a holiday, you're at work pandering to them. It's annoying. I hope to never do it again. This is why I always try to keep things tidy in stores that I touch and not make unreasonable demands of people. I think anyone who ever worked retail does this out of respect. For sure no one else does.

  4. Book Nut....I never go in a hotel pool for that very reason. Yuck. You have my sympathy.
    Cheryl...Thanks for the shoulder. Sob
    Veggie...I knew you would understand.

  5. I don't know if I ever told you, but I work at The Home Depot - part time now. I was full time up until July 1st and then I went into semi-retirement, my choice. You think Retail is bad - and it is - try being a Mortgage loan officer for a while . . that, I really hated. I have to be honest. If you have to work retail, Home Depot is one of the best as far as taking care of their people. Thank Heaven I'm also retired U.S. Army.

  6. Oh Scott...You are right. Mortgage loan officer? You win the sucky job prize. Glad to hear that Home Depot is decent.

  7. Having worked your weekend retail business at your side for almost 5 years now, Judy,I can attest to the absolutely bizarre behavior you have observed. At least we can be thankful these brats and their dysfunctional families aren't part of our own circus! My pet peeve today is the customer who places a special order and never bothers to pick it up (and pay for it!). I call them and email them and they claim they'll be in next weekend-never to be heard from again. Guess there are a lot of alien abductions in the area? Hey, people (you know who you are...), if you changed your mind or ran out of money-I can handle it-just have the common courtesy to call me and tell me and I'll sell your stuff to another customer! Thanks for listening, Mike D


Talk to me. Listening is free. Advice will cost you.