1. Guys work there, but they’re mostly unseen elves.
My store had one male employee who would mainly chill in the back room and process shipment, meaning that he took clothes, accessories, and toys out of boxes and made them ready for the sales floor. One time, he came out of the back and tapped one of the sales girls on the shoulder and said “I can’t do this anymore.” When she asked what he was talking about, he held up a bag of panties: “Can you please process these? I just really don’t feel comfortable folding little girls’ underwear for the next two hours.”
2. M.A.G.I.C moments happen every day…sort of.
Make a friend! Ask questions! Get information! I…forget what the rest of the acronym stands for, but you get the idea. There was a deck of MAGIC cards that had different selling scenarios on them. As the employee, you’d pull one from the deck and then your manager would role play the scenario with you. Some managers had a sense of humor about it (MAGIC cards!) but others would take it so seriously that I once was told, “do not come to work unless you’re ready to work your MAGIC! Seriously.”
3. Sex offenders (and other creeps) harass the store in creatively disturbing ways.
Yes, sex offenders and borderline sex offenders do hang around outside of children’s stores. They would sometimes come in alone and ask you to show them different items for their ‘niece,’ and you would catch on pretty quick to the fact that there was no ‘niece’ involved. No, there is not much mall security can do about it, unless the person is actually committing a crime or has a legitimate ‘safe distance’ order placed on them for a former crime. One time, a guy tried to videotape a Girl Scouts tour from a bench in front of our store. Mall owners later removed that bench. The creepiest incidents were the phone calls. “Thank you for calling Limited Too! This is Christina, how can I help you?” I’d hear heavy breathing, and then something like, “yes, could you tell me more about what ages your store carries clothing for?” or worse, “are….you…a…high school student, Christina?” Before you could realize what was happening, the line would go dead. Nightmares for days.
4. ‘Damaged’ candy gets ‘damaged’ out.
Little kids steal. Little kids love candy. Little kids love to steal candy. Most of the time, parents would tell us and return it to us, half-eaten. Oftentimes, half-eaten candy would end up back on the shelves and we’d have to find it at the end of the night during cleaning. We’d have to damage this candy out by listing it on a form and mailing it back. But why mail back half-eaten packs of gummy bears when you can just eat the rest of the gummy bears and then say that the perp only left the wrappers?
5. Webkinz are part of an evil empire.
At one point in my LTD2 career, my official title was ‘Webkinz Master,’ and it was literally my job to keep track of which Webkinz we had, what the stuffed animal’s name was, who it’s ‘friends’ were, and which Webkin was selling the fastest. Easy, right? No. Try explaining to a disgruntled parent or crying child that you do not have any more of the Elephant and you have no idea when you are going to get more. It is my personal belief that Webkinz were designed by the United States government to tear families apart, cause divorces, and stimulate the economy by forcing newly single parents to buy more Webkinz in order to placate their emotionally disrupted children.
6. The store is actually the destination for raging tween hormones of doom.
The Jonas Brothers, the High School Musical Cast, and Hannah Montana were the sexual awakening for many. Kids would run away from their parents just to stare at a poster of Zac Efron or Miley Cyrus for two straight minutes, and employees would have to just look away because we knew what has happening there, and it was not our job to have ‘the talk.’ Unless the ‘the talk’ was about ‘Too Bucks.’
7. ‘Too Bucks’ were the most sinister marketing tool in the game.
‘Too Bucks’ were a coupon that allowed you to take $25 off of every $100 you spent, or something. For every $200 (or something) you spent, you would get another Too Buck. Imagine the kind of roofie circle this creates, with every parent spending more just to use their ‘Too Buck,’ and then having to spend even more to earn the next ‘Too Buck,’ and then having to return to spend more to redeem that ‘Too Buck.’ TL;DR, the cost of ‘Too Bucks’ is Too. Damn. High.
8. LTD2 was (sometimes) the ideal ‘chill’ employer for buckwild high schoolers.
One of my earliest memories of LTD2 is going in by myself when I was twelve and overhearing two employees talk about getting fake ID’s while they ate pizza, right on the sales floor in front of all the customers. And by all the customers, I mean just me. Depending on the management, LTD2 could be paradise for a high school girl who’s just looking to make a couple dollars while gossiping. Before I started at my store, the previous manager would let the girls order mall food delivery to the sales floor, and they would close the gate 20 minutes early to smoke bowls at the back deliveries door, blast their own profanity-laden music, and straighten up to get rid of any evidence.
9. LTD2 was also (sometimes) run like a cult.
Right before I started at LTD2, though, a new manager took over and said the glory days had past. It was time to sell some goddamned camis and capris. She left no pair of rhinestone-encrusted jeans unturned, no clearance item un-bought. A ruthless manager made for good sales, and it was no time before I defined my own self-worth by the ability to turn a two item sale into a five item sale by encouraging customers to purchase ‘charms’ to adorn the little holes of their Crocs.
10. Teenage employees are encouraged to wear the tweenage clothes.
When you work retail, you’re almost always ‘encouraged’ (read: forced) to wear the clothes you’re trying to sell. Makes sense. But for a 5’10” sixteen-year-old girl trying to be cool and kick it with the seniors in high school, it makes a lot less sense. That didn’t stop everyone from telling me that our new dresses were ‘so on-trend’ and ‘wearable as babydoll-style tunics with leggings.’ We bought the camis with our employee discounts and rocked the leggings under long H&M tank tops and no one could tell the difference. No one, that is, besides your boyfriend, who points to the dress on his bedroom floor in horror and says, “oh my God, my kid sister definitely has that in blue.”
11. ‘Joe Baggs’ is a retail arch-villain that they pretend exists.
Every retailer has a loss prevention video that is so cheesy and detached from reality, it makes the plots on Scandal look reasonable. The LTD2 video featured a guy in a trench coat named ‘Joe Baggs,’ who would come into your store and (somehow? A trenchcoat? A man in a trenchcoat in LTD2?) go unnoticed and steal all of your stuff. After you watch that video, certain, more ‘driven’ managers would constantly ask you what you would do in a ‘Joe Baggs’ situation. To be fair, shoplifters are creative as hell. I’ve seen them go into fitting rooms wearing a loose-fitting dress and come out with thousands of dollars rubber-banded to their bodies underneath, only to be caught at Auntie Anne’s pretzels five minutes later, before they could even get the cinnamon sticks.
12. Fitting rooms are cesspools.
Bikini liners. Urine. Menstrual blood. Boogers. You name it, it ends up on the floor, walls, mirrors, and benches of a store’s fitting rooms. And employees are left to assess the damage and salvage it in ways that no one should ever have to go through. I never did find condoms on our fitting room floors, though, so that was a blessing. I’ve heard some shit goes down in Victoria’s Secret.
13. Stockholm Syndrome is real with Disney pop music.
At first, I would get off work, get into my best friend’s boyfriend’s car, and make them blast Atreyu for a solid fifteen minutes before I could even think of doing anything else. I didn’t even really like Atreyu, but it felt like a cleanse. After a couple months, though, I’d catch myself singing the High School Musical soundtrack at the top of my lungs in the shower. It wasn’t too bad until I put on a mix CD at a party that contained Hannah Montana and woke up the next day to find the CD shattered on the tile floor with a note that read, “really Crissy?”
14. Negative personalities flounder or thrive in the Limited Too environment. There is no grey area. Literally.
One of the girls I worked with in my first few months at bright, pink, shiny LTD2 was an aspiring mortician. She wore nothing but black and refused to talk to customers. She didn’t last long. But mean girls who would never be caught dead babysitting are actually the perfect employees. They can turn on the charm with parents in an almost sociopathic way, oscillating from “Aw, she looks like a princess! You know what would look great with that? We have a jewelry set…” to “did you see that little brat? I got her parents to spend $55 on shoes that won’t fit her in six months. HA!”
15. Parents are more thankful when you don’t ‘help’ them.
Girls already roll up to Limited Too with the same enthusiasm they’ll one day have for rolling up on a ‘networking’ event with free food and an open bar. If you were at an open bar, would you need someone to tell you how good the drinks are? No. LTD2 was an open bar for these kids, because they lack any knowledge of the offensively audacious price of a pair of tiny cotton shorts. I once gave a particularly hyphy Girl Scout tour, in which I staged a fashion show and had each girl pick their favorite three things, only to be met by their parents at the register whose faces read “are you fucking kidding me?” After that, I realized that I was facing the sentence of having a bounty of grudges against me in a small town if I kept that shit up.
16. The impulse to create monochromatic neon outfits stays with you forever.
I cannot dress myself in a mature way to begin with. I’ve always wanted to wear leggings instead of pants, ever since I was a child and called jeans “jaggy,” which is a combination of “jean” and “baggy” that I’m still pretty on-board with to this day. Limited Too poisoned my sense of style for the rest of my life, given that I dedicated a year of my life to seeing the functionality and wearability of cheetah print, bright colors, and accessorizing oneself until one becomes at least a full pound heavier for that outfit’s portion of the day. Three weeks ago, I showed up at my hometown Applebee’s wearing a teal skirt with a dark pink leopard-print burnout tee and pristine white strappy sandals. My best friend took one look at me and said, “you working at the mall again, bitch?”