Realities of Retail

I worked in retail for over a year and let me tell you, it’s a combination of highs and lows. Sure there are a lot of horror stories like the time a lady tried to return a shirt from 2009 that had no tag or receipt with the excuse that “they never wore it.” Let me remind me you, 2009 was 6 years ago. 


But this is not a post about customer horror stories, I am simply informing you of the realities of retail, both good and bad in hopes that if you yourself ever decide to enter the realm of retail, you’ll know what to expect or if you are on the customer end, to have some sympathy towards the fellow brave souls in sales.

Most of your paycheck goes back into the store

I worked at a teenage targeted lingerie store whose name I will not disclose, and received a 40-60% employee discount at the store and at its sister store. The combination of new incoming products and slashed priced items were too much to resist. It wasn’t required that employees wore their clothing however, since everything was so cheap, my whole wardrobe consisted of the brand’s clothes.

Headsets are for more than for customer assistance

Most of the time it was a means of passing inside jokes or gossip. Not to say it wasn’t a professional setting but when you’re working long hours with a tight nit group of people, it’s not a surprise there will be laughs as well as complaints.

Coworkers make or break your job

This is a no brainer for any job really but even more so for retail. I’m not going to lie, it’s a grueling job full of groveling, rejection, and fake smiles so it’s nice to be able to come to work with friends rather than just coworkers. The store I was at had a small staff, about 10-15, so it was like a mini sorority. If you got along with people and were in the “in group”, it was a lot of fun but if you weren’t, it felt like an episode of Mean Girls.

Sales determine your hours

Although management never outright said it, the best associates and the ones that the managers favored, which usually are the best associates anyway, got the most hours. It makes sense for a company trying to make a profit but it does make it hard on employees who are working minimum wage. A typical day started with a “pre-party” where the LOD would give you a sales goal and the store’s sales stats. You were also told which product should be promoted and what your other customer friendly goals were for the shift. At the end of the shift, you were given an “after-party” to determine how well you did, whether you met your goals, and regardless of how well you did, what you could do better next time.


Overall I learned a lot of valuable sales, customer service, and communication skills from this job. I’ve also gained some amazing friendships and experiences. Sure there are a lot of negative aspects to the job but it’s one of those experiences everyone needs to have in order to learn social skills and what it feels like to be on the other side of the register. So I encourage you, put yourself through retail hell and come out a decent member of society, not like 2009 shirt lady.

2 thoughts on “Realities of Retail

  1. Great post! Working in retail definitely has its good and bad days. You learn so much every day though, not only about business but also interpersonal skills and how to deal with difficult people!


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