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Friday, 21 July 2017

10 Things I've Learnt In 10 Years Of Retail

This weekend marks ten years since I first started my career in retail. It was never supposed to be a career, my first job was supposed to be a means of earning money until my career as a professional wrestling inevitably took off and I could kiss my shop job goodbye. Obviously, life doesn't always turn out how you'd imagined in the past and I'm still in the retail sector ten years later. It's not something that I particularly want to celebrate (although I am thankful that for the past ten years I've never been out of work) but I thought I'd mark the occasion by listing 10 things I've learnt whilst working in retail.

1. The customer is not always right

Let's get this one out of the way first, the customer is not always right. I wonder if Harry Selfridge knew exactly what he was setting people up for when he first coined that phrase? Anyway, the thing here is that people don't seem to realise that some things, such as refunds and discounts, are actually down to manager discretion as opposed to actually being a legal right. You're only legally entitled to a refund if the products you bought is faulty, and if something has been priced wrong we don't HAVE to sell it to you, we can take it off the shop floor for 48 hours and put it back out with the correct price on. Also, arguing with retail workers only makes you look like a tosser.

2. Social time is precious.

In retail you are INCREDIBLY lucky if you always manage to have the same time off as your nearest and dearest. It's not like a 9-5 job, in most stores your hours are very rarely the same week to week and it can be hard to make plans without having to actively book time off. Of course, it's not like you never see your friends... I just make sure I enjoy it when I do. 

3. The Manager can make or break a job

I worked in the same job for seven under four different managers with four very different personalities. The atmosphere changed with each manager, and I had periods where I really didn't mind my job, and periods where I absolutely couldn't bare the thought of going on. If you have a good boss right now, savour it... they might not be around forever, and you never know who you're gonna get next!

4. Not every customer is an arsehole

It's true. Most of the retail memes on the internet allude to the times where we've dealt with an awkward or just downright terrible customer, but there are moments of light in the darkness. Every so often, you'll serve someone who brightens your day, who actually shows you some gratitude for going the extra mile and is generally a delight to be around. Sometimes you'll even be able to have a full on conversation, which is a rarity in customer service. 

5. Kids are the WORST

Please don't touch that. Put that back please. No, not there, where you actually got it from. Please don't touch that mirror, I have to clean your grubby hand marks off it if you do. Where are your Mum and Dad?! Please don't cry, I'm only measuring your feet. Oh for Gods sake DON'T DRINK THE WATER FROM THAT GARDEN FEATURE. 

6. Nobody wants to be a retail manager

I don't think I've ever met a manager who actually set out to become one. For a lot of people it just makes sense for them to take on more responsibility and make more money if they don't have anything else to fall back on. That said, it's not a jump that everyone makes. I personally have witnessed what retail managers are put through and I simply cannot imagine putting myself through the stress that a lot of managers go through. It's just not for me.

7. It turns out Maths is actually important

If you're anything like me, you'll have sat in Maths classes at high school thinking, "I'm never going to apply this when I leave school". WELL, it turns out that you are if you work in a shop! The amount of percentages I've had to work out in the past ten years is insane.

8. Working in retail RUINS Christmas

I used to absolutely ADORE Christmas when I was younger, and to a degree I still do. But there's something about the build up beginning in September (or August if you work in a card shop) and having all sorts of Christmassy goods shoved down your throat that takes away the magic. The worst is that shops these days will have you start playing Christmas songs in November. By December 25th you're all Christmas'ed out. And for anyone wondering, yes, Christmas stuff does start selling as soon as it hits the shelves. Heathens.

9. I'm more patient that I thought I was

You've probably guessed by now that us retail workers deal with a lot. If you'd have told me everything I would have to put up with when I was 16, I would not have thought that I would deal with it very well. I figured I would probably end up telling someone where to go. It turns out that I am actually patient to the point where other colleagues have complimented me on it in the past, and that I don't let it show when a customer has wound me up... at least not until they've left the shop and I've made my way to the staff  room. I do tell people where to go though... you just learn how to word it without the customers realising what you're doing.

10. It could be worse

Yes, for all I've complained, it could be worse. I could have a less appealing job, or a more boring job. I could have no job at all. Sometimes, as much as I'd like to move into another industry, it helps to be grateful for what I have, as I could have ended up with nothing at all.

Do you work in retail? What have you learnt?

Stacey Rose xx

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