Things you learn about working in retail while working in retail

Anyone that has ever worked in retail or has been employed in any role that involves the sale of goods and the requirement of customer service interactions will have their stories to tell – horror stories, stories of frustration and humiliation, and stories about the unimaginable stupidity of the general public. Sorry*.

If you have not worked in such a position before, you are among the lucky ones. Below you will find a list of common misconceptions that you should keep in mind. If you have but don’t any longer – I am so happy that you got out. We learned some valuable lessons. You will relate to the myths below, and find you feel a sense of relief in not having to be on the receiving end any longer. If you are currently in such a position – I have felt the pain you now feel. You will understand most acutely the following myths.

Myth #1 – the customer is always right. Wrong – the customer is rarely right, but one must let them believe that they are right even when they are, in fact, very much mistaken – or in most cases, delusional.

Myth #2 – it’s easy. This is an assumption – one that is a gross understatement and is therefore entirely misleading. It is not merely easy – we wish that it were – no, it is mind-numbingly, brain-deadeningly, soul-destroyingly monotonous.

Myth #3 – you’ll get free stuff and/or discounts. Now, to be fair, there are the odd few places that do offer their staff half-decent discounts. However, those half-decent discounts are as good as it gets, I’m afraid. In the majority of retail establishments, staff are instructed to get their receipts signed by managers to reassure those managers that their employees are paying full price for everything they buy in store. In such places, employees are often searched upon leaving at the end of their shift to ensure that they aren’t carrying any items bought in the store without a valid and preferably signed-by-a-manager receipt to prove that they are not shoplifting from the very store from which they receive the pay-check that pays their rent.

There is a bright side, though – this is not a myth. Genuinely, there is a bright side, albeit at the end and in hindsight. We all have to do it at some stage in our lives (by all I mean those not in the 1% that won’t have to, but majority rules so majority can be ‘all’ in this instance). We all go through our days of working in retail to get ourselves through college and/or on to bigger and better things. It’s like a rite of passage, of a kind. It has to be said that working with the general public, in sales and/or a customer service position, is a learning experience that will stand to anyone that has worked in such position and will prove to be a valuable skill to have when it comes to any future communications with prospective managers, coworkers, costumers etc. Hang in there, make your college/travel/savings-for-whatever-it-is-you’re-saving-for fund, and enjoy the day you get to hand in your notice.

*Disclaimer: this is an entertainment, humour, opinion piece –  I do not mean to offend anyone; not the general public, or those who work  in retail, have made it their career and are happy in their positions.

Photo by Charles Etoroma. I couldn’t find any photos of myself in my uniform from when I worked in retail. Even if I had one, it is probably not the greatest idea to reveal where it was I worked, although I do really appreciate the opportunities they gave me and the lessons I learned while I worked there. I also love what this photo by Charles says. 

In case you can’t make it out, it says, “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We are #2.”, in reference to an environmentally conscious clothing  line.

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