12 Tips For Working In Retail Without Killing Everyone Around You
1. Don’t Follow People Around the Store
For customers, this is annoying and overbearing. Depending on who you do it to, it could unintentionally come across as racist, ageist, or something equally politically incorrect. Instead, try and guess where the customer is headed, and attempt to remain one step ahead of them at all times. Try looking repeatedly over your shoulder with a very judgmental stare, and, if they wind up in the same spot as you, say something like, “Fancy meeting you here…” in a really rude tone of voice. Serves them right — what, they think they’re too good to be followed?
2. Don’t Let Your Friends Come Into the Store to Visit You
Doing this while you’re on the clock is inexcusable: you should be leaving the store to visit them.
3. Whenever a Customer Asks You Something, Consult the Back Room
As a retail worker, you should always maintain an air of professionalism and a courteous, inviting smile; this ensures that customers will feel comfortable asking you for assistance. Of course, helping customers is probably just about the last thing you want to do, especially since the majority of them have never become acquainted with phrases like, “please” or “thank you,” and have certainly never taken the time to consider the fact that they may actually be a total assclown.
However, a customer’s question provides you with the valuable opportunity to drop whatever you are doing and answer, “Hmm… let me check the back room” or “Let me ask my manager.” Seriously, would you rather be stocking American Idol refrigerator magnets or aimlessly wandering around your store’s customer-free back room? And it doesn’t matter if the customer asks you something you already know the answer to, like “Where’s the bathroom?” or “What time is it?” Regardless of whatever their half-way intelligible question is, it provides you with an opportunity for sweet, sweet momentary escape.
4. Don’t Work in a Store that Plays a Limited Music Playlist
This is more of a warning than a tip: If you work in a store that uses a playlist of fewer than 100 songs for in-store music, you will probably show up for work one day wearing a trench coat and wielding an axe while screaming the lyrics to a Michelle Branch or Maroon 5 song.
5. Make Up Your Own Holidays
Unfortunately, working in retail often means working on holidays. Missing out on these traditions can cause anxiety, depression, and a ton of guilt from your family. What I recommend to remedy this is inventing your own holidays to make up for the ones you’re stuck working on. While you won’t get the sense of unity and familiarity that traditional holidays bring, you get the added bonus of celebrating things you actually care about on your own schedule. For instance, while your friends are stuck working on September 18th, you can be chillaxin’ at home, celebrating the anniversary of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s tragically brief marriage!
Some other holidays I’ve invented include the upcoming power duo of Arbor Day Eve (April 26th) and Hitler’s Death Day (April 30th), as well as The WNBA All-Star Game, Cockblock a Stranger Day, and National Weird Al Appreciation Day. You will definitely be able to take these days off because you’ll be the only one asking for them. Well, also because no one will want to celebrate them with you.
6. Take Advantage of Time Away From Your Manager
Hopefully you’ll have the privilege of working for a trusting manager who allows you to handle duties like opening and closing the store when he’s not around, or working on his usual days off or vacation days. Working without a manager around to meddle in your affairs is the prime benefit of being in the retail field. Just think, you’re your own boss — you run the store… except you could care less whether anything gets sold or not. You need to take advantage of this time to do whatever the hell you want, from blasting Slayer over the loudspeakers to scare away customers to ripping bong hits in the back room. After all, this is your time to shine.
7. Learn Where Everything in Your Store is
This will provide you with grim satisfaction when you have dialogues like the following:
Customer: Yeah, where’s your selection of domestic beers?
You: This is a pet store, you incomparable moron.
Customer (staring at you blankly): …
You: Let me check the back room.
8. Encourage Shoplifting
In fact, you should remove the anti-theft tags from as many items as possible and leave them lying around the exits of your store. Just think: every time someone shoplifts, it’s like they’re punching your boss directly in the balls (and/or ovaries).
9. Lie Blatantly About Your Products
Customers love to ask esoteric questions about your store’s products, like “Are these Cheerios organic?” or “What country were these shoelaces manufactured in?” If you work for a store that takes pride in the knowledge of its staff, that’s great. But most consumers are under the mistaken assumption that places like T.J. Maxx, Walmart, and Discount Bob’s 98¢ Store provide extensive product information training. They might be surprised to discover that the training usually consists of, “There’s the bathroom. Do you know how to use a punch clock?”
Use these opportunities to feed the creative impulses that so often go unused in the retail field. Compensate for the fact that you have literally the exact same level of knowledge regarding your products as a random person off the street by inventing impressive facts and thrilling back-stories.
“Well sir, these jean shorts are actually made entirely from high-quality denim cultivated from the renowned Jort Farms of the Pacific Islands.”
“Yes, ma’am I do recommend those Q-tips — they’re made from real ostrich bones.”
10. The Customer is Always Right
Just kidding, I wanted to make sure you were still paying attention.
11. ABC – Always Be Closing
I’m not sure what this means, but Alec Baldwin says it like thirty times in Glengarry Glen Ross, which is a movie about salesmen and salesmanship. I usually just repeat it incessantly to customers with a quizzical look on my face. “Always be closing? Always… be… closing?” Sometimes I even drool. Eventually, they take the hint and leave me alone.
12. Whenever Possible, Wear a Name Tag With Someone Else’s Name On It
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