What Working in Retail Feels Like

Towards the end of my first year at university, I was finally hired after months of endless interviews and browsing of a million tabs of Indeed on my laptop screen. And at first, everything about the job seemed perfect, almost as if every other job hadn’t worked out so that I could get the most convenient, promising and beneficial job of all; I had gotten a dream first job with very little experience. 


Now, after several months have passed from that initial excitement, I have a clear vision of what it’s like to work in retail. I most certainly am still entertained by my job and I enjoy going to work every day but… there are things that I feel I was better off not knowing; like how sometimes people are rude and cruel simply because they can be. As if it does not even occur to them that everyone else needs to be served in a busy store too, that sometimes being at the cash register when there is a line up is stressful and most often not being able to provide something for the customer makes us more disappointed than them anyways. 


photo of woman holding white and black paper bags

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As easy as it is to tell a person they shouldn’t let a single person ruin their day when working in retail, that is much easier said than done. Imagine you walk into the store, feeling refreshed and enthusiastic about starting another day, surrounded by pretty clothes and friendly co-workers, just to have a guest boss you around or demand something unreasonable all while yelling and making a scene. If you’re lucky, your manager is the understanding type and knows that “the customer is always WRONG.” But nevertheless, it’s not that easy to dismiss this kind of behavior as completely trivial.


woman standing near store while looking at the mannequin

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Of course, we as employees make a lot of mistakes too, but the point is that we’re all human; therefore, flaws are something we’re all a little too familiar with. As customers and employees, we both need to be mindful of this and the fact that certain days can be long and stressful enough on their own as it is, so why add more negativity onto them if it’s not necessary. I think we often forget how much we all have in common just because we’re so wrapped up in our own worlds and instead of trying to take our minds off of things by shopping, some people tend to attempt to relieve their own stress and anger onto the innocent employees. 


stainless steel container

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Sometimes, as I walk into the store, there are certain guests that leave me speechless with how bitter and unnecessarily angry they are, reminding me of all the ugly things in the world I don’t need to be reminded of; those are the parts of working in retail that sometimes feel unbearable. But on most days, a simple compliment or a smile from a happy or satisfied customer is enough to make my whole week; that’s what makes it worthwhile for me.