Monday, March 30, 2015

8 Lessons Learned from 8 Months in Retail

8 things I've learned working in retail for 8 months"Everyone should work a retail or fast food job" -- My mother, and probably someone you know too. It's almost a right of passage to work in a retail or fast food job, especially in your teens and early twenties. While I had successfully avoided fast food thus far, over the summer I took a job at a major retailer, and it has been a wild eight months. Not only was I part of the largest grossing back to school weekend in our company, I've been there on every holiday including black friday, the rush before christmas, and the mad house it can turn into right before spring break. (perks of living in a college town).

Working in retail definitely lends itself to having crazy stories to tell, and it teaches a lot of life lessons. I have seen some of the best and worst in people, and sometimes myself. There have been days where I want to cry, and times where I can't keep the smile off my face. I work with the most amazing team members I could have asked for, especially when trying to juggle a job and full schedule at school. Nonetheless, the past eight months have been some of the craziest in my life, full of lessons learned.

1. The customer is not always right.

Before you start shouting, OF COURSE THEY ARE, talk to someone who has worked retail before. The customer is not always right. Honestly, there are days where the customer is rarely right. As a customer myself I have not always been right. It's okay, we've all been there. We can't be right all the time. If you believe that we sell ice skates but I calmly explain to you that we don't have any and that we never have, I'm being honest. I swear to you.

2. I get by with a little help from my friends.

Sometimes you just can't do it all by yourself. You walk up to the shoe department and it looks like a tornado went through and one hour to make it look perfect again. Not even the Flash has those powers. So what is one to do? Call up all your friends in the store and have them help when they've finished. Seriously, your co-workers are your best friends when you're in the store. Sometimes outside as well. Everyone there has your back, and they'll help in any way, even if that's just through moral support.

3. One person can change your whole mood.

Storytime! On black friday I was working in the fitting room, and it was busy. Like, crazy busy. Not enough rooms and a line of people waiting to get in. It was stressful, I was tired, and there were a lot of people. Apparently I missed a woman standing further back from the room, I probably thought she was waiting on a granddaughter if I saw her. So instead of coming up to the desk and asking for a room, she throws the pair of pants she was holding into my face and storms off in a huff. Let me tell you, didn't exactly make my day any better or easier. But another day I had an older gentleman thank me profusely for helping him find the medicine he needed, and then even mentioned my name when checking out to thank me again. Such an amazing mood booster. It's amazing how we feed off of each others energy.

4. Middle-schoolers are easier to intimidate then you think.

Honestly, all it takes is a firm "teacher voice" (aka the one I use on my students when they aren't doing the right thing) and you're in control. No matter what shenanigans they may be getting up to, you can get them to stop. Most won't fight back, and are actually very polite.

5. People expect you to have everything all the time.

Surprise, we don't sell flipflops in November. We don't normally carry green tights. These things happen.

6. People can be slobs.

It's true. It's a harsh reality, but it is true of me as well. They will leave their clothes in the fitting room when I am standing right there, leave things throughout the store, throw clothes on the ground and then just walk over them. There are the gracious people that put things back, and I honestly usually assume they've worked retail before. You can usually tell who has versus who hasn't.

7. Always check sizes.

I cannot guarantee you that the size of the hanger is the same as the clothing on it. I try really hard, but sometimes things get overlooked. It happens. Shoes get placed in wrong boxes all the time, and it's impossible to go through each box every night to make sure they are all properly placed. We try, but make mistakes. They are bound to happen.

8. Complaining won't really get you anywhere.

Ironic, right? But honestly, the more you complain, the more frustrated everyone gets. We're all here for a common goal, and we can help each other reach it. No reason to make things more difficult than they need to be.

Have you ever worked retail? Have any crazy stories or learned any lessons? Let me know, I love hearing other people's retail stories!


  1. I haven't worked in retail before, but I can definitely see this happening especially the customer not always being right. Great post!

  2. Thanks, Eden! Honestly, working retail has been such a great experience for me. It's tough, but you learn so much about life!


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