Special to Lions’ Pride
By: Cedric Blatch
Here’s a glimpse of what it is like to work in retail courtesy of your friendly neighborhood sales associate. It’s imperative that others (and specifically customers) finally understand the feelings of a sales associate; for those who have worked in retail, get those likes ready. As for those who have not—be prepared to find out the three best moments and the three not so best moments of being a sales associate.
Working in retail is something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. It’s important everyone knows what it’s like to work in retail to understand the struggle of folding a table full of shirts and ten minutes later finding that same table has been massacred by ruthless customers. Folding a table full of shirts only to have them messed up is one of the worst things that can happen. In that moment, all hope is lost and dreams are truly crushed.
Also, a sales associate can spot a customer that has not worked in retail just by the way the customer shops and interacts with the merchandise in the store. It is the sales associate’s job to provide customers with the utmost customer service at all times. Customers often get tired of hearing “Hi, how are you? Anything I can help you with?” but what the customers fail to understand is that associates themselves are constantly being micromanaged.
Being micromanaged is beyond frustrating and is probably the second worst thing about being a sales associate. Customers affect a sales associate’s job but management is what also
makes associates frustrated doing their job. Constantly snooping around over employees’ shoulders and watching their every move is not an effective way of management; this is known as “babying to the tenth power.” Now, it’s not entirely managers’ fault for their constant checking; they too are also being micromanaged by the people in fancy suits, also known as corporate. The micromanaging is something that needs to change, but let’s be real, it won’t.
Cleaning up after customers is the last and absolute worst part about being a sales associate. It is simply one of the biggest nuisances one can handle. Some retail stores don’t have a merchandise limit for customers, limiting the articles of clothing they can take into the fitting room. It’s extremely sad how some customers leave the fitting rooms with twenty plus articles of clothing left behind for the associate to put away.
I remember this one particular day; I was not having a good day overall and a customer was trying on clothes in the fitting room I was watching. I was cleaning up my area making sure everything was clean so we could leave on time as we were about to close. The customer hears the closing announcement over the store intercom and begins to leave. At this moment, I am excited because I know I will be going home soon. Then everything took a turn for the absolute worst.
I check the fitting room the customer had just left and there are articles of clothing everywhere. There were about 10 shirts on the floor, eight different pants on the chair, along with dresses, and more shirts on the hangers. I was so close to leaving early but then I had to stay a little longer to help finish put the merchandise away. What made it even worse was that the customer only walked out with one shirt to buy. This was one of the worst nights during my retail tenure.
However, things aren’t always so bad in retail, there are some positive moments too. One of the best parts of working in retail is the flexible schedule. Managers in the retail world are very flexible when working with your schedule. The managers truly understand the importance of having a life outside of work and understand that things come up and sometimes calling out of work has to happen. It is one of the things I truly appreciate because the managers truly go out their way to work with you.
Another plus to working in retail is the satisfying impact one may have on a customer. When customers come into the store, naturally they will be fine on their own. Usually, there is that one customer that may need some extra help. Being able to help that customer find everything they are looking for and see a big smile on their face while they are thanking you is an amazing feeling.
This one day while I was working, it was a slow evening but I had a lot of cleaning up to do, a customer came in and said “Hi, can you help me? I’m going to see my ex-boyfriend and I need to look hot!” I laughed and offered my assistance by stopping the cleaning up I was doing. We spent about 40 minutes walking around putting together a plethora of outfits, then we finally found one she loved. She was beyond happy, her smile stretched from here to China. She was extremely appreciative and went even as far as to tell management about me helping her. It is a very rewarding feeling when a customer is satisfied after being helped.
Another great thing about being a sales associate is the discount that is offered for the desired store employed at. Every store is different but I believe that 20 percent off whenever is pretty awesome. The discount comes in handy while on a regularly scheduled shift, just walking around you get to shop at the same time. The discount helps out a lot when it is something that is really wanted and you forget about the discount you have and you are able to save a lot of
The things associates see on the daily are mind blowing and leave a puzzled look on their faces every day. The moral of the story here, working in retail has a lot of pros and cons. Everyone should try and understand what it’s like on the other side. Maybe one day we will run into each other at my store. If we do, don’t bring this up; I don’t want to get fired.