For the past five years I have spent my life working in retail hell, all while trying to juggle having a fun social life, continue my education, and being able to actually spend some time with my family. Truth is that I have made a little list in my head when it comes to what rules should be followed when it comes to working in retail. See, people like to think that us retail slaves have a rather easy job. We simply fold clothes, ring, or whatever else the job entails, all while living to serve the customers. You should all know that you are wrong and when you see us talking over our headsets and have that little doubt of fear that we could be complaining about you. We probably are, that is why closed radios on sales floors are a great thing.
Anyway, here are my ten tips for remaining sane while working with the insane — and by insane, I mean the general population.
1. Be friends with your coworkers
I have been told by other people to do the opposite of this but in reality, your coworkers will have your back. There are always a few bad ones in the bunch, but for the most part your coworkers are all that you have in retail. Let’s be real, managers do not give a shit about you. They may act like your friends but in reality they do not care. Your coworkers on the other hand understand the shit you deal with on a day to day basis and will be there for you. Just be cautious about who you become extra close friends with, that you will have to figure out at your own discretion.
Know why you should befriend coworkers? So after a horrible shift you and them can all sit at a bar and drink your last terrible shift away. Alcohol doesn’t solve problems? You would be correct, but it does help make them a little less terrible. There is nothing like bonding over a cold alcohol infused beverage about how much you hate your manager and all of the stupid customers that you have had to deal with.
3. Don’t Take Things Personally
This is one rule that I have yet to master, but it is an important one to learn at an early stage in your retail career life. Customers will take out all of their anger on you because you don’t carry a specific jacket or size, but hey, you shrug that right off. It isn’t your fault that your store doesn’t have the one pair of size double zero jeans that they were looking for! When your manager yells at you, it is because they are getting in trouble for not doing their job correctly, again this isn’t your fault! You just let the roll right off your back and you will have a great shift every shift. Just be like the queen Taylor Swift and shake it off.
4. Do Not Hook Up With Coworkers
Listen, this is a rule that I have made sure to follow in all of my five years in retail, this is something you do not want to do. Number one, everyone will talk about it. Even if you think no one knows about your little hook up after a company event, we all know, people with the day off already know about it too. It isn’t cute, its uncomfortable — and when one gets attached and the other doesn’t, it disrupts everything. So unless you want a relationship with this person, just say no. Even if you do want a relationship with this person, I would suggest one of you quit because when you break up, shit will hit the fan.
This is key when it comes to dealing with anyone that you may face in the work place. There will be customers who try your patience, but just grin and bear it. There is nothing else you can do. If a coworker doesn’t understand something, you stand there with them and try and help them figure it out. I guess this more relates to teamwork, but instead of walking away stay patient with them. When you have someone who is counting out pennies on your counter as you are trying to ring them out, just stand there and let them count. You can’t control other people’s annoying habits, just be patient with them.
6. Fake It Until You Sell It
I promise you, if you used your hands while explaining a product it looks like you are being passionate and understand what you are actually trying to sell. Two coined phrases I have are “from what I understand” or “I know this is popular with other customers” either of those really seal the deal. Truthfully you can sell anything you put your mind to. At this point I believe that I could sell a burger to a vegan, that is how well I can bullshit my way through a sale.
7. Understand Your Work Is Never Done.
There will be a day, or many days, when you finally finish a task and think that you can take a little five minute break for yourself. You are wrong. Right when you finish a project your manager will be up your ass looking for you to do the next thing on the list. It kind of goes on that cycle until the first project you did have to be changed. So work is never done, if you have a five minute lull though, check your phone, treasure those five minutes, then go back to work.
8. Know Your Worth.
You are worth much more than someone who is getting yelled at because your store doesn’t sell mini hockey sets. Understand that people are going to take out their anger on you because they are dealing with their own sad little lives. You are worth something.
9. Take Shifts But Not Too Many Shifts
Help out your coworkers, help out your management. If they need help and call you in, go in to help out but don’t do it too many times. If you take too many shifts or stay late too many times they expect that kind of stuff out of you. Don’t give them the idea you are some kind of pushover that doesn’t have a life outside of work.
10. Leave Retail Eventually
I will tell you after my five years I have met some people that have been in retail for ten times as long as I have and they are miserable. Most of them hate their jobs but they are stuck there. Do not let yourself be stuck in retail. Again this is a whole know your worth thing. Retail will eventually make you lose your soul. Don’t be soulless, leave retail eventually.