retail confessions Archives - I Hate Working In Retail


The True Confessions of a Former Retail Slave

If you were to Google the phrase “working in retail”, the first five websites that come up are these:  Seven Lessons Learned from Retail, 12 Tips for Working in Retail Without Killing Everyone Around You, Is Working in Retail Close to Slavery?, Retail-Sucks, and Why Working in Retail Sucks.

This is not news to me.  I spent five years of my life working in that business as an assistant manager of a mid-level women’s apparel company.  Let’s call this company J. Taylor Creek.  Their main demographic is career women in their 30s and 40s, though over the past couple of years they seemed to have tried to lower that age and target the career-minded college student.  But what college student do you know can afford $140 pants?  Especially when they’ll probably end up working at Starbucks after graduation?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Or maybe they’ll have to settle for a part-time job making $8 an hour at J. Taylor Creek.

After spending three years working in the mortgage business as a loan processor (which I actually enjoyed), I got out just before the housing bubble burst.  We were moving, I knew the company at which I worked was going to close down (it was only a matter of time), and my sister informed me of a new outdoor “Lifestyle Center” that was opening in the new city where we were moving.  They were having a job fair in search of qualified people to work at all the fun stores that were going to open.

Now, working retail was not necessarily new to me.  I was a part-time manager at Claire’s for one year during college.  However I highly DO NOT recommend working at Claire’s.  Oh yeah, they have cute accessories – jewelry, bags, hats, etc – but if you work there, you have to pierce people’s ears.


I could go into all the stories of ear-piercing I have locked away in my brain, but that would make this post extremely long.  Let me just say this: never pierce a screaming baby’s ears no matter what the mother says, and never take a job where smelling salts are involved.

That being said, I figured I had enough retail experience to go into the job fair and come out with a well-paying, full-time management position.  And I did!  I interviewed with many companies that day, but the one who snagged me – and also the one I loved the most – was J. Taylor Creek.  After talking to the woman who was going to be the new store manager, I felt like I belonged at this company.  I liked what they stood for, and best of all, I liked their clothes.

I started out as an MIT, which stood for Manager-In-Training.  It’s basically the lowest level of a full-time manager at J. Taylor Creek, and that was fine with me.  I wanted responsibility and authority, but not too much, if you know what I mean.

Since the new store wasn’t due to open for another two months, I had to train at other J. Taylor Creek stores.  This was all fine and dandy, though I quickly learned one thing about myself.   I hate picking out clothes for people who don’t know what they want.  I told myself that I would eventually get used to it, that I would learn to feel comfortable selling clothes to people, but it ended up haunting me for as long as I worked in retail.

Trust me, this will look horrible on you.

Once my home store opened, things got a little better.  I loved the girls I worked with, and they were the ones who got me through the long 8-hour shifts.  In fact, it would be my co-workers who got me through the FIVE YEARS of retail in which I worked.  But more about that later.

Being an MIT had its perks, but it definitely had its downfall, that downfall being acting as “the middle man” most of the time.  The assistant manager and senior assistant manager (managers #3 and #2) did not get along.  They bickered like children, and would come to me complaining about the other one because apparently someone lower than them is easier to complain to than the store manager above them.  I sat and listened like I always do, never really agreeing with them, just nodding and saying things like, “Wow, really?”

Luckily after about six months at this location, my district manager at the time told me about an opening for an assistant manager at another location a little bit further away.  This would mean higher status and higher pay, and even though I was hesitant (my current store was literally five minutes from my apartment), I agreed to meet with the store manager.

We clicked right away, and I knew after about 15 minutes that I wanted to transfer.  The store was in a better lifestyle center, too – there was nowhere to eat at my current mall, and this one had tons of restaurants and tons of stores and a Borders and a candy store…

So I was transferred, and I had to quickly get accustomed to a higher volume store.  My old store was pretty quiet, not too many visits, even on the weekends.  But this new place was a madhouse.  Constantly running around, not even having time to pee or think about anything but “Does she have a room?” “Do you have any clients right now?”  “Have you taken your break?”  blah blah blah.

The good thing was that my days FLEW by.  Well, most days.  Even busy days have their crappy “oh my God, it’s only 2:00?” moments.

And here’s another crappy thing I started to really hate about retail.  The hours.  When I first thought about working in retail, I thought a change of hours and schedule would be interesting.  I was bored with the whole 9-5 thing.  My husband was a chef, which meant that his hours were all over the place, too, so it wasn’t like I exactly needed those weekends off.

But working nights and weekends and getting random Tuesdays and Thursdays off and working until 11:00 at night quickly lost its flair.  Having to work on days like Black Friday and the day after Christmas and every other holiday that everyone else gets off was depressing.  It didn’t take long for The Chip began to form on my shoulder.

I started dreading going to work, especially on days when I would close.  I wouldn’t go into work until 2:00 in the afternoon (if it was a weekend), and I couldn’t enjoy the first half of my day knowing that I still had to go into work for nine hours.  I couldn’t even enjoy my days off because I usually only got one day off (two days in a row is a rarity in the retail world), and I would spend most of that day dreading the next day.

And then I got pregnant.

Having to work at any job is probably difficult when you’re pregnant, what with all the morning sickness and moodiness and the getting fat business.  But working retail is extra hard when you’re pregnant.  First of all, you’re on your feet for eight hours and only get to sit down during your lunch break.  Second of all, you have to deal with customers.

And customers suck.

This is probably the main reason why I started to hate retail so much.  As I mentioned before, I quickly realized that I hated helping people find clothes to wear.  I know that sounds ridiculous, since that’s all that retail is, basically, but I figured that since I was management, I knew that my job was to make sure my associates were helping customers, not me.

And that was slightly true.  But that didn’t mean I was totally off the hook.  And it seemed that the more pregnant I got, the worse the customers became (the whole economy going to shiz may have had something to do with it as well, but whatever).  Constantly arguing about a return, the price of something, a coupon they couldn’t combine with a promo…you name it.

Courtesy of Customers Suck

And you’d be surprised at how many awful, evil people there are in this world (or at least in California).  I’ve had women call me a bitch, I’ve had women throw clothes at me, I’ve had women threaten me…all because I was trying to do my freaking job.

And the crappy part?  I couldn’t do a thing about it.  I couldn’t yell back, I couldn’t throw clothes at them, and I certainly couldn’t call them a bitch or else I would get written up or fired.  That’s one of the rules of retail.

You just have to stand there and take it.

There was one time I got a little “testy” with a client.  I was eight months pregnant, it was 11:15 on a Friday night – we had been closed for 15 minutes – and there was a woman arguing with me about wanting to return an item that wasn’t even from our store.  At J. Taylor Creek there are different divisions of stores, kind of like how Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy are all run by the same company, but they’re totally different stores.  This woman was basically trying to return an item from Banana Republic to Gap.  Which you can’t do.

She didn’t understand this, and no matter how much I tried to explain it, she refused.  I was getting PISSED.  And when she said, “Well, they let me do this at Macy’s”, I responded with, “Well, this isn’t Macy’s.”

That shut her up, but she filed a complaint against me and I got a written warning.

You’d be surprised at the stuff customers will do while in your store, stuff that should be on an episode of Dirty Jobs.  Makeup smeared on blouses?  Happens all the time.  Blood in the crotch of white pants?  I’ve seen it.  Clothes stuffed in the tank of a toilet?  Yep.  Sex in the fitting rooms?  Thankfully not at my store, but at another one in the district.

Good times.

I went on maternity leave a whole month before my due date simply because I could not handle working in retail anymore without totally going postal on someone.  And about halfway into my leave after my daughter was born, I realized that I wasn’t going to go back to retail.  My daughter was way too important, and I didn’t want her to suffer the effects of a mom who hated her job.

That lasted for a year.

We moved back to the previous city we lived in to be close to in-laws, and since we were paying more for our apartment, I decided I would get a part-time job.  And since I knew that I could easily get a job at J. Taylor Creek, I went to the Lifestyle Center in our area, talked to the manager, and the next day was the new part-time sales lead.

I was at a different division as my previous store – now I was high-end.  But it was basically the same stuff I did before, just a slightly different client, and since I was now only working 4-hour shifts instead of 8-hour shifts, I thought it was going to be great.

How quickly and easily one forgets.

A lot had changed over a year, however, with the economy and with the company as well.  They were suddenly more, how should I put this, anal about things.  Business at the entire company wasn’t very great, and when that happens people begin to panic.  People at the top lose jobs.  Management changes, turnover happens, and it starts to snowball into a big ol’ mess.

But it turns out that one year off does not change the suckiness of customers.  I thought that since I was now working in a very affluent part of Los Angeles, the women wouldn’t be so concerned about price and deals and discounts.  But you know what?

They’re even worse.

I guess that’s why they’re so rich…they’re super tight with their money and want to pay the least they possibly can for a top that’s on final clearance for $9.88.  And when they can’t get their way, they get MAD.

I think the customers at this particular location and particular point in time were worse than before.  I had at least one woman a day argue with me – mostly dealing with our return policy, which is 60 days WITH THE RECEIPT – and since J. Taylor Creek was so obsessed with not losing clients in this already sucky retail economy, we had to let them win.  You want to return that without a receipt?  You want to return that even though you bought it over a year ago?  Well, since I’ll get written up if I get a complaint against me, I’ll let you return it.  No problem.  *fake smile*

Retail is all about fake smiles.  I had a fake smile plastered on my face for five years.  And you know what?  It got really tiring.  It got tiring pretending that I cared about the business when in reality all I cared about was when my next day off was.  I know that sounds horrible – I was promoted to assistant manager at this J. Taylor Creek, and my job was to inspire my team to achieve our goals, and while I get that, it was really hard to be inspirational when Corporate is only focusing on the negative.  You didn’t make this goal, you didn’t open this credit card (holy eff, do NOT get me started on trying to force people to open the J. Taylor Creek credit card), your folds are messy, you didn’t wear something current…

You begin to only focus on the negative as well, and that causes stress and disgruntled employees.  J. Taylor Creek tried to be all about “engaged associates” and “empowered women”, but at the end of the day all they care about is money.  And they will be the first to tell you that.

Retail is difficult enough without having to deal with crap from Corporate.  In addition to making sure our associates are “doing their job”, we’re also sending hourly “reads” – how much money the store currently has in – to our district manager, doing “store set” at least twice a month (basically changing the entire store around), setting up window displays, changing the clothes on mannequins, ordering supplies, completing store operational audits, changing interior signage for promos that change every couple of days, cleaning out fitting rooms (which means picking up all the clothes bunched up into the corner and turning them right side out and putting them back where they belong), making sure our folds are military-grade acceptable, sweep the floors, clean the windows, take out the trash, receive new product twice a week and make sure it’s all steamed and put out within 24 hours, take never-ending conference calls, send out “action plan” emails when we’re unable to make our goal, make sure that we’re not over or under in hours, which means usually cutting or calling people in at the last minute, planning store events that no one ever turns up for anyway, soliciting clients on the phone…

…and all this must be done while we’re supposed to be 100% focused on the client walking through the door.

I was at this J. Taylor Creek location for about 2 ½ years.  As before, I loved my co-workers.  I had a great boss and still consider her and the other women to be great friends that I’ll always keep in contact with (thank you, Facebook).  But I knew my time in retail had to come to an end.  My daughter was getting older, and I knew she needed a mom who had a fixed work schedule.  And a mom who didn’t come home stressed out and pissed off every day.

When we moved back to Minnesota I was all set to transfer to a J. Taylor Creek store at the Mall of America.  There were no full-time positions available, so I was starting back at part-time sales lead.  I wasn’t excited for this job, and felt myself dreading it before I even started it.

I was there for a week.

It was one of those “right place at the right time” moments where there was an opening at the company where my dad worked, and because it was Monday-Friday in an office at a desk where there weren’t any clothes or customers around, it took me about ½ second to agree to interview.

I got the job on the spot and started the following week, and since then I’m amazed at how happy I am at work.  My job isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but when I think of all that blood, sweat and tears (oh yes, there were tears) I put into retail, I am so thankful.  I love going into work at 7:00 am and going home at 3:30 pm.  I love going home on a Friday afternoon knowing that I have the whole weekend off.  TWO DAYS IN A ROW!  I actually have an active social life now that I have the same days off as the rest of the world!

However, I don’t regret the five years I put into retail.  I learned a lot about people and being a manager and how the corporate world works.  I learned a lot about myself, and I’ve learned to accept the fact that there are some things I just wasn’t meant to do.  Going to work every day made me feel guilty because I knew I didn’t like it and I knew I wasn’t “putting my best self forward” (another J. Taylor Creek mantra).  I didn’t want to live my life like that, doing something half-assed that made me miserable.  I didn’t want my daughter to grow up knowing that because I don’t want her to do the same thing.

I’m not here to tell you that retail is a crappy industry.  It’s challenging, but if you’re good at it – and I know a lot of people who are really good at it and passionate about it, and that’s awesome – then it can be a truly rewarding career.  Just make sure you’re true to yourself and that’s what you really want to do, because if it’s not, you’re not the only one who suffers.


Sourced from


Things Not To Do as a Chick-Fil-A Guest

Confessions of a Chick-Fil-A Employee

Things Not To Do as a Chick-Fil-A Guest

Because I like to think that not everyone in the world wants to make people hate them, I have compiled a list of things you should not do in a Chick-Fil-A drive-thru in order to keep CFA Team Members from hating you. This list is arranged in no particular order of significance, and is not limited to the below points. I will probably continue this list throughout the rest of my blog posts from now on and forever more, because I’m almost positive that people do increasingly more stupid and annoying things as time continues.

#1: Being greedy.
Let’s get one thing straight: you will never need ten sauces for four nuggets. You don’t even need ten sauces for 24 nuggets. I know CFA sauce is good and you want to go home and put it on all of your sandwiches and pizza and oxygen, but we do sell 8 ounces of the stuff for a reason.
#2: Ridiculous requests.
“Can I get my side salad with no tomatoes?”
“No, actually. No you cannot. Do you want to know why? Because we prep side salads ahead of time, and when someone makes a special request we have to make a brand new one. Do you know that we put one or two cherry tomatoes on our side salads? Do you know that they are small and round and contained enough that they don’t spread contaminating tomato-dust onto anything they touch? Do you know that you have fingers that work just as well as our kitchen staff’s? Do you know how easy it is to pick up that (those) tomato(es) all by yourself? You don’t even have to find a trash can, you can actually throw it out your window. I’m pretty sure it’s not littering when you’re tossing something that grows on the earth anyway. And look, your window is already open! You don’t even have to go to the work of pressing a button to get rid of those nasty little things. Unless you have an abnormal and extreme allergy and any form of slight contact with itty bitty tomatoes is life threatening to you, I think you can handle this one yourself.”
In a perfect world, that would be my answer to that question.
#3: Not using your ears.
When I ask, “What would you like to drink?” There are many proper responses, but one of them is not “Yes.”
#4: Not knowing the difference between a meal and an entree.
In case anyone is confused, a meal comes with a side and a drink. An entree does not. So when you say, “I want a number one meal with no drink,” you actually just sound uneducated and obnoxious. However, I would prefer you saying something like that to saying, “I want five sandwiches just the entrees, and two fries and a cole slaw and two fruit cups… and five cokes.” Because you know what just happened? I just rang up all those entrees and sides by themselves like you told me to, and now because of those cokes I have to cancel everything, hack into my super-mind that can memorize everything you just said, and re-ring every single thing. While being very angry.
#5: Asking for your shake in a bag.
“Wait, what? That actually happens?” Yes, yes it does. And don’t bother trying to come up with a good reason as to why anyone would desire their shake in a bag, because I have tried and there is no logical answer. They always fall back on the same thing… “It’s easier to carry.” But, um… I don’t really think that’s true. I’m fairly certain you can wrap your hand around a cup just as easily as you can carry a bag. Both options take one hand and no brains. But one is normal, and one creates an irritating and difficult situation and then probably causes you to spill something. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
#6: Having a car full of annoying friends.
If I can’t get mad at you for having 48094238902347 friends piled into your car screaming and laughing and yelling “LOL OHMYGAWD,” then you can’t get mad at me for setting your house on fire in the middle of the night… slash, not understanding your order at all.
#7: Coming in at 9:59pm:
Or anytime after 9:45ish.
#8: Changing your drink mid-order:
When you start saying things like, “I want a number one with a doctor pepper,” here’s what happens: I hit a couple buttons and then make a doctor pepper. Then I pat myself on the back for being nice and efficient. But OH WAIT, efficiency means nothing when you have a fickle guest. “Actually, can I have a sweet tea instead of a doctor pepper?” I’ll say “Absolutely” but in my head I’m strangling you, because now what am I supposed to do with this mother trucking doctor pepper?
#9: Being slow.
I know you have 12 kids and that’s really cool, but it’s a lot cooler when you don’t sit at the window after I give you your massive order and hand out each meal individually to your entire family before driving away. I also love it when you don’t take five years counting out seven dollars in change whilst at the window. It’s called planning ahead, people.
#10: Thinking that my arms are 15 feet long.
If I had to estimate, I’d say they are around three feet long, probably less. So when you park a mile away from the window and expect me to hand you your food, you’ll understand when I crunch it all up and throw it like a football instead.#11: Cell phones.
It’s fine if you want to talk on your cell phone instead of listening to me repeating your order. It’s especially fine when I charge you for the wrong thing because you weren’t listening. It’s even more fine when you get pissed at me because youweren’t listening.

#12: Forgetting where you are.
If you ask me for “McNuggets” or “Arby’s Sauce,” I will assume you are mentally handicapped and/or tell you to go get your seeing eye dog before coming back. Probably not. But I’ll dream about it every night until people start being more aware of their surroundings.

#13: “Can I add five shakes to that?”

#14: Polynesian sauce.
It’s pronounced like pol-ee-nee-shen. Not polyester sauce, asian sauce, polynaise sauce, pedestrian sauce, and most certainly not pomeranian sauce.

Sourced from


Customer Service: Why you should be nicer to retail workers.


At some stage in an individuals lives, there will come a time where you have a testing job in customer service. Whether it be serving Happy Meals to ungrateful children crying about the toy they got, or patiently biting your tongue while yet another customer gripes at you about something that is out of your control, many customer service and retail jobs may not always be the absolute highlight of our days.

Now we all have bad days – there’s been times I’ve rolled my eyes at terrible customer service, and times I’ve been on the receiving end of rude or tired customers. Either way, it’s not fun. But here’s a list of reasons why we should try and remember to be nice to retail workers. After all, they probably already got 99 problems, and yours is just another one.

1) Retail workers could also be doing better things with their day.

You might be annoyed you have to ruin your Sunday by going grocery shopping, so when the checkout chick (or dude) is scanning your items, you’re probably rolling your eyes, checking your watch and snorting impatiently through flared nostrils. “How are you today?” The checkout assistant will ask in a monotone voice. That monotone isn’t anything to do with you so don’t take it personally. While you’re probably annoyed you’ve wasted an hour of your time buying mundane things like toilet paper and washing powder, this assistant has probably already scanned those items numerous times over the last few hours and is ready to go home. After all, who willingly wants to be spending their Sundays serving cranky people who are mad that the weekend is almost over? No one.

2) Retail workers have to smile and act like the customer is always right. Even when they are clearly not. 

Ahh this one is an old favourite. ‘The customer is always right!’ Whoever coined that phrase is clearly wrong. Any retail worker that’s good at their job, knows there is nothing more infuriating than a know-it-all customer acting like they are superior.

Scenario: A lady came storming up to me in my workplace (a cinema) the other day.
“Do you enjoy making people wait out in the cold? You opened the doors late today!”
Regardless of the fact I’m not God so I don’t have control over the weather, nor am I Satan who would receive enjoyment out of making people suffer, I had to politely let her know we open our doors at 9.45 am. She was complaining to me inside at 9.46am.
“Well you should advertise that!” She replied huffily. I pointed towards the door where I said it was indeed written down.
“WE ALL CHECKED, NONE OF US SAW IT!” She shrieked, her face bright red.
In this case the customer is wrong. But you have to nod along, pretend you lied about the opening times being on the door and try and serve her with a smile that probably looks more like a grimace.

3) Retail workers have to deal with cranky people ALL DAY.

Following on from the above point, sometimes there are days, where every person in the city is in a bad mood, and they just happen to enjoy taking it out on the poor soul working behind the counter. Okay this may be a slight exaggeration, but working in retail or customer service can sometimes make you feel like you’ve got a flashing neon sign above your head stating: “Please yell at me. Call me a moron. Throw any other insults my way. Blame me for everything that’s going wrong in your day. No, seriously, that’s what I’m here for.” 

That’s a very big flashing neon sign.

Would you personally want to keep smiling, talking to and dealing with a person who’s blatantly rude to you and probably just insulted you because they’re having a rough day? I’m going to take a wild guess and assume probably not. So there’s no reason to take it out on the wrong person. They may be getting paid to help you, but their pitiful wage does not even begin to cover all the panadol they’ll need for the headache cranky customers are giving them.


4) Retail workers do not make the rules/prices:

Things are always going to be too expensive no doubt. When taking a family to the movies (2 adults, 2 kids), you’re already looking at $50 and that’s not including popcorn or drinks.

Just like I don’t decide what time doors open at the residence where I’m working, I also don’t decide on prices. In fact 9 out of 10 times, I’m probably feeling bad about charging you what seems like a ludicrous amount of money. And here’s another tip: complaining to me, and then demanding me to tell my boss to change prices is still not going to work. My boss gives about as much fucks as you give about how long it took me to get out of bed that morning. Which is none.

If you’re going to a shoe shop to buy a new pair of heels, you’re probably going to expect to be spending a bit of money. You won’t be going up to the counter, having the shoes scanned, and then upon hearing the price,  throw a tantrum that would make a two year old proud. Because you know when you purchase those shoes, it’s hardly the fault of the person serving you. If you want to blame anyone, blame the designer. Or you know, yourself for buying the shoes. Likewise if you go to the movies don’t blame the random person behind the candy bar for the price of a bag of Malteasers. Chances are they already agree with you that $6 a bag is ridiculous, and chances are they are also secretly thinking you’re a moron for not stopping at the Woolies up the road first and buying a $3 bag. Just sayin’. The staff are not food nazi’s. If you buy your confectionary from another place and then go into the cinema, I’m not going to go all Gandalf on you and not let you pass.

5) When you can, help make their job easier.

Is it necessary to tip you popcorn over the floor? I don’t think so. Is it really hard to put your used tissues in the bin on your way out instead of leaving them for someone else to clean up?  I mean, really. That’s just gross.

When you walk through a clothes store, and you’re rifling through shirts and one falls, does it make you feel better just casually kicking it under the rack for a worker to find later? DOES IT? DOES IT REALLY?  Is it worth yelling at a worker because something doesn’t fit you/something broke/something was manufactured wrong etc? It may be a good way to release your own personal rage, but chances are you just made someone else angry or feel like shit.

I used to also work at Factorie, a clothing store. One time a lady came up with me, furious her new jumper had a hole in it.
“WHAT IS THIS?” She yelled, shaking it in my face.
Biting my tongue to stop myself from pointing out the obvious (‘It looks like a jumper to me’), I told her she could exchange it. She did, and was about as ungracious as Amanda Bynes is to the rest of humanity. Handy tip: The people at the clothing stores don’t make the clothes, nor design them. The damage to your new jumper was NOT DONE ON PURPOSE. How about a polite ‘thanks for your help’ and everyone can be on their merry way.

Customer service workers aren’t peasants put on earth to listen to your griping, deal with your anger, and politely agree with your insults. Do not underestimate the simple gesture of kindness and what a polite ‘thank you’ or smile can do to turn someone’s day around.

Article by Tahlia Pritchard who has been working in customer service jobs for about five years too many. You can watch her daily mental breakdowns after a shift at the cinema unfold on her twitter. 

Sourced from