My first job out of high school was working for a discount department store. Being my first “real” job (other than babysitting), it was also my first foray into the more interesting world of how people treat other adults, their children, and retail employees.
Here are 5 things that I learned from working in retail:
1. Sometimes, the customer may not be completely in the right.
We always want to think the best of people, but not everyone is concerned about store employees and or the product they sell. I once witnessed a customer refuse to return the $200 he was just given on accident by a cashier because, according to him, it was the cashier’s fault and not his problem. Even when he was told the cashier would lose her job, he wouldn’t budge. This is just one incident in which a customer was wrong, and the consequences were very unfortunate for an employee. That being said, retail employees always appreciate kind words and upstanding customers!
2. Some people are very honest.
It was always nice when a customer would return the money if I gave back too much change or accept the fact that an item was mislabeled, causing them to pay more than they thought the item cost. Kudos to those people!
3. People really will fight over the hot item!
My employment at this store was the same year that Cabbage Patch Kids hit the market, and I literally saw two women fighting over one during the Christmas season. Pretty sure they’re a dime a dozen now… Is it really worth assaulting someone over? The answer is an emphatic no!
4. Returns are the one dilemma that will cause impatience more quickly than most any other shopping experience.
I saw a person get so mad at an employee that he threw a punch after the manager wouldn’t accept the return of an obviously very used item. Instead of getting impatient, make sure you know the store’s return policy before attempting a return. And, as always, practice good common sense about returns!
5. There is so much left to do after the store closes.
Once all the customers are gone and the doors are locked, there is much cleaning and organizing to do. Sometimes we would remain at the store for up to two hours after closing, depending on the shopping season. So, perhaps instead of dropping that unwanted item on just any shelf, maybe you could put it back where it belongs or at least leave it with customer service.
Shopping is something we all must do. The next time you’re in a retail store, take a moment to consider how you can brighten the employees’ day. You don’t know what they have already experienced or what they will deal with before leaving their shift, so why not do your part to make their experience as pleasant as you expect them to create for you? Trust me, even a smile and a pleasant demeanor can go a long way!
You’ll also like 5 Things I Learned Working in the Food Industry, Confessions of an Endcap Queen: How to Stop Mindless Purchasing, What Is the Key to Exceptional Customer Service?, 10 Things I Learned About Cancer as an Oncology Nurse, and If You Want to Be Civil and Polite This Is How It’s Done.