Life and Times of a Mommy(:

Retail and Hospitality!

on April 2, 2013

One of my favorite blogs is written by The Hook. His blog is about what he encounters while working in a hotel as a bell man. (Go check it out if you haven’t already. It’s pretty amazing!) His blog reminds me a lot about what I encountered working in retail at a clothing store. I will keep the name of this company confidential to keep from being sured and what not. What I can tell you is that I worked there for 2 years. After I left the store was sold to a competitor and closed.

I started working at this store when I was 17 and weighed 110 pounds. It’s important for you to know this because I was working at a plus size clothing store. The store did sell some misses clothes but even the smalls tended to swallow me whole or just not fit right. IT was my job to help the women that came into my store find clothes that they liked and fit them correctly and comfortably. For anyone who’s ever worked in retail, you know that knowing how the clothes fit and look on a person is a big help when selling the clothes. In my case, I couldn’t very well try on most of the clothes. Most of the time we got small versions of the plus size clothes, but as I said before the tended not to fit right, even in the smallest size. I was still the guinea pig though. I was put in outfits that I would never have worn outside those doors. But did the women that came in my store care that I tried on a smaller version of the shirt that they were looking at? No. Not in the least. Many times I got rude comments, some times yelled at. I didn’t know what “fit” these women and what “looked good” and just because I tried it on in my size doesn’t mean that it’s going to look good in a bigger size. Later I learned to listen very closely and as questions to other customers that tried on the clothes so I could help future customers without getting the rude comments. And I was pretty much brutally honest with my customers in the nicest way possible. I made sure that these women didn’t walk out of my store with something that made them look like crap, just so that my store could make some money. 

Another major obstacle I face in retail was selling credit cards. I’m sure most of you read that word and have heart palpitations thinking about hidden fees, interest rates, payments, and credit scores. Me, on the other hand, I have no idea what any of that means so I will just smile and nod my head while you try and explain it. 
Right. Moving on.
Selling these puppies was not an east task. The thing about these credit cards, which many people misheard because my store was like the only one to do this, was that you got a certain percentage off your purchase if you were instantly approved for the card. If you were notified through mail that you were approved you got a coupon. Now, when people miss heard this, they heard “certain percentage off when you apply“. So. I got many an irate customer when they weren’t instantly approved and didn’t get their discount. 
And on top of the weird discount thing, people just didn’t want to apply for a credit card. We had to get the customer to say no three times before we could give up. The first no, easy peasy lemon squeezy. The two after that….are a little rough. I’ve had everything from nice and polite, to rude and down right mean. Like mean enough to make a 17 year old cry! I even had a couple people curse at me for simply doing m job! (Keep that in mind people! Most of the time it is the cashiers job to pester you about a credit card. If they don’t, they can sometimes get in trouble with their boss. So be nice. We don’t come to your job and curse at you, now do we? Didn’t think so.) I had the occassional person who caught me as soon as I opened my mouth. “No, I don’t want a credit card. I don’t care how much it will save me or how easy it is to apply or anything else. I. DON”T. Want. It.” At this all you can do is nod and say ok.

Then you have people who can’t speak English or people who can’t read English, (or pretend not to be able to do one or both of these). My store, depending on the time of year, closed at either 8 or 9 at night Monday through Saturday. (Sunday’s was at 6 but this still applies to then.) That means we close and lock the door around that time. Even if there are customers in the store. (This is to prevent more customers from coming in. I promise we didn’t hold anyone hostage.) And at 8 or 9 (whenever we closed for the day) we have a lot to do! Customers in the store sometimes make that difficult.
During part of the time I worked there (about a year and a half) no one that worked in our store spoke anything but English. Which, in hindsight, was really our managers fault for not hiring anyone bilingual when half our customers either only spoke Spanish or were more comfortable speaking Spanish. (Me, like an idiot, took French in high school.  Just had to be different…) Or these customers just acted like they didn’t understand English so that they could let their children run wild and tear apart my store… But it was rather difficult to converse when wit ha customer when they didn’t understand what you were saying.

And the shop lifters! Good grief the shop lifters! Ok. Story time everyone!!! Gather ’round! So, I had been working at this place for maybe a year, maybe less. Well it was almost closing time and there was one lady in the store. SHe came to the fitting room with an arm load of clothes. I let her into the fitting room while m manager counted down a drawer and I straightened the store. We went about our nightly routine, until the customer came out of the fitting room empty handed. Great, I thought, a crap ton of clothes to put back right before I go home. I asked her the normal questions “did everything fit/find anything you like?” (I should have known something was up by the nervous way she was acting and how she kept trying to divert my attention. I think that if I hadn’t been looking she would have literally ran out of the store.) I walked her to the door with her insisting everything was in the dressing room. As she was leaving I noticed that things were sticking out of her purse in a different way than they had when she came in. Like there was too much stuff in there. But she was out the door before I could say anything. I walked back to my manager, told her what I saw, and went to the fitting room. Sure enough, tags and sensors littered the floor.
Another time we found something that people used to remove sensors. (I’m not telling what it is to discourage shop lifting!) Come on people. Don’t be stupid. You will get caught eventually! I promise!!

And of course working among women you deal with drama drama drama!! I seat the store manager held a grudge against me for leaving after a year and a half. I came back almost a year to the day of quitting and for six months, I was the low (wo)man on the totem pole, even though I knew the store and the company almost inside and out. One of my coworkers was also my best friend and roommate. She is no longer my coworker, roommate, or best friend. (The first two are obvious I know. And I will spare you the crap story on how the friendship ended.) I also don’t talk to any of the people that I used to be close with at the store because of her. (Again, I spare you the details.)

This may not be a hotel full of stingy cougars, old people, or inappropriate rednecks, but The Hook and I were put in some similar situations, I think. We dealt with douchecanoes (thank you to Lucy’s football for that wonderful word!) , people pissed off for no reason, and happy people that love us no matter what! Retail and the hospitality industry are very closely related. So people! Be nice to the girl ringing up your entirely too expensive clothes, and the bell man being nice enough to load your bags onto a cart and push them around for you!                                      Oh! And tip the bell man!! 


(Hook if you disagree with me on this, feel free to leave your opinion! I would love to hear what you think!)


2 responses to “Retail and Hospitality!

  1. I worked retail for years in college. I can totally relate. I have such stories. I worked in two different plus-sized clothing stores, a video store, and an office-supply store. Oh, the things people did in those stores. I kind of lost my faith in humanity for a bit there. (Especially after the video store. Oh, my. The things that happened there. Let’s just say…it was my job to open the store on new-adult-video day and there would be a line of people waiting at the door those days. *shudder*)

    • xdanigirl says:

      Ewwww!!! Haha.
      Yeah I kind of lost my faith too. I had people that where down right rude and mean to me! I worked in a plus size clothing store, a bridal store, a lingerie store, and a clothing store in my local mall. (That one I’m not sure if I got fired or if I quit… But I got deemed non re-hirable. That store I had really nice people but the DM was a complete….really mean person!!)

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