Both my sister and I worked at the Gap in college. She was a denim specialist (so fancy!), while I was just a regular ol’ salesperson they let dress the window mannequins occasionally. I only lasted for about a year.
It was a combination of a man yelling at me because we didn’t have his jean size and my boss telling me I needed to work on my folding technique, all in one day, that sent me packing. As I told my manager when I gave my notice, I was going to be a writer, and I didn’t feel I should have to work on my folding technique. (I’ve always had major issues with authority.)
It takes a certain type of person to work in retail and be good at it. I am not that type of person. I am the person who, when someone once came back into the store yelling about how I didn’t give her the “Friends and Family” discount that would have saved her $3, reached into my back pocket and gave her a five-dollar-bill, because I didn’t want to deal with voiding and recharging her.
But while I’m no model salesperson, having done retail for a year, I can tell you what’s OK behavior and what’s not. So, please, the next time you hit up your favorite store, keep these tips in mind.
1. Sizes Change From Brand To Brand
If you’re a 4 in one store, but a 10 in another store, you don’t need to cry, make a scene, and dramatically yell out to the salesperson, “But I’m a 4! I’m a 4! This is all wrong!”
2. When You Threaten To Take Your Business Elsewhere, We Don’t Care
If you’re pissed off that our jeans are $20 more than the ones three stores away, you really don’t need to make a production about it. You can go ahead and take your business elsewhere all you want. We still get paid, and are more than happy to see you go. Also, if you think a multi-million dollar company cares either, you’re totally deluded.
3. If You Wanted To Use A Coupon Or Discount, You Should Have Brought It
While exceptions can be made, when it comes to certain promo codes, we need that exact number. Screaming at us about how “unfair” we’re being because you forgot your promo code on your kitchen table is pretty unfair of you.
4. Everything In The Store Has A Place
So, you've decided that those socks just aren't you after all. Here's a tip: Put them back from where you got them. I'm not saying you have to put them back into the display perfectly, but just put them back in their place. We're not there to follow your around cleaning up after you, just because you're too lazy or too inconsiderate to do it yourself.
5. Our Storage Room Isn't As Large As You Think
If you don't see the size or color you want, it's totally OK to ask if maybe we have it in the back. However, if we tell you we don't, we're not lying; it's not some conspiracy. We just don't have it, and if you saw the size of our storage rooms, you might refrain from being so rude to us about it. We didn't design and build the store!
6. If You're An Asshole, We Won't Forget You
Assholes are hard to forget. And even if for some bizarre reason we do forget you, one of our colleagues will be kind enough to remind us with a tap on the shoulder and, "Isn't that the asshole who was so mean and made you cry a month ago?" We have each other's back that way.
7. Asking For A Manager Doesn't Mean You'll Get Your Way
Here's the deal: Managers of stores are just barely one step above their salespeople on the hierarchy of the retail totem pole. They do not make decisions on pricing, return policies, when things should go on sale, or the fact that a dress doesn't come in the exact color you want. They're basically there to babysit salespeople and instill in them the wisdom they've gained from having been in the retail business so long.
What this means is if a salesperson tells you that you can't return that item you've had for six months for cash and you're only option is store credit, a manager can't do anything about it. But, if it makes you feel better to ask for the manager so you can feel somewhat in control of the situation, then by all means, go for it.
8. Don't Freak Out If We Ask You To Leave Your Shopping Bags At The Register
We are not picking on you! We don't think you're a thief. But the problem is that it's really easy to steal from stores, especially when it's busy and the products don't have those alarm tags. It's about the store covering its own ass. It's not personal.
9. If You Don't Want Our Opinion, Then Don't Ask For It
Far too many times I'd find myself in the dressing room with women who were shopping alone and looking for input. At first, I always told them, "Yeah! It looks great!" But then I realized, I was doing them a huge disservice. So I started being honest.
While that usually worked out well, about one in ten women would just rip into me telling me that if they wanted my opinion they would have asked me for it ― apparently having forgotten that they did ask me for it.
10. Ignoring Greeters Is Just Rude
The days that I was put at the front of the store to greet customers were the days that I'd put on par with having a colonoscopy. I didn't want to be there, and I sure as hell couldn't care less about how their days were going.
And while you, as a customer, might know that we really don't care, the least you can do is play along. You don't have to ask us how we are, but at least smile. At least acknowledge the fact that we're there, if only to silently commiserate over just how ridiculous the whole greeting customer thing is.
11. Don't Tell Us You're 'Just Trying This On For Fun'
Yes, it's your right to try on things for fun, but when that "fun" involves us running all over the store finding you sizes and colors, and you have zero intention of buying anything, it's like you want us to wish for your demise. Why would you want that?
12. Long Register Lines Are Not Our Fault
Sometimes in life, you encounter long lines. It happens.
Sighing loudly, grumbling, and trying to get fellow customers on your team about how "inefficient" the salespeople are is just mean. If you think being in a long line is stressful, think how about how much it stresses us out to see the line and you in it being a jerk.
Next time, shop online if it bothers you.
13. Don't Come In Right Before Closing Time
Unless you know exactly what you want, where it is, and can be in and out in the five minutes that are left before we lock that door, wait until tomorrow. Stores have specific closing times for a reason, and that reason is to have ample hours to clean up the mess customers made all day, just so we can do it all over again 14 hours later.