To any of you who have worked in retail before, you will probably have a good indication as to the purpose of this post. Why? Because we have all been there. Listening to the manager explain to the customer what you said five minutes previously. Reorganising a shelf after already tidying it twelve hundred times that day. Last but not least, having to hide the frustration and resentment you have towards a difficult customer with a smile. It can be hell on earth but here I am explaining why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life…
It gives you thick skin…
I got my first retail job when I was 16 years old. I work at Colchester Zoo, to anyone who has heard of it. And no, I didn’t do anything interested like feeding the Meerkats, I merely worked in a gift shop. It was slightly different to the average retail job, meaning that you would often get to wander round the zoo with a giant handful of balloons or dress up like Jigsaw at halloween. I enjoyed the unique aspect to this job. However what I didn’t enjoy was something which all retail employees get to experience – being yelled at!
I had my fair share of nightmare customers come my way. One in fact decided to call me a bitch in front of his children because the monkey enclosure was closed for refurbishment. I mean, did I – at 16 years old – look like I had any authority in the overall running of the zoo? No, I did not. Did I have any control over the fact that this man stupidly didn’t check the website for updates on the runnings of the zoo. Absolutely not. Did I deserve to be scream at like a naughty child, NOOOO!
Working in retail you learn to develop a thick skin. You can’t let customers get to you even if you have been working ten hour shifts and really don’t care to actually ‘check the back’ when they ask. I mean, we’ve all walked to the cupboard stood for a few minutes only to regain some strength and then returned to the customer apologising for the lack of stock. Anyway, the point being is you learn to handle rude people and not let it get to you. This is one of the reasons why I truly believe everyone should work in retail at least once in their life. You’ll soon realise that you no longer get treated as an individual and adapt.
Your levels of patience will be tested!
When you work in the same shop for however many shifts, your patience will get tested. It will be the same routine and you will be repeating yourself to every customer that walks into the shop. You begin to get a routine in your head of what you said to each customer. For me I used to get so tired by the end of the shift I would end up not making sense and getting my words muddled. For example, instead of saying ‘hi, can I help?’ to a new customer I mixed it up with ‘enjoy the rest of your day’. They were beyond confused.
Ultimately, working in retail can result in you becoming more patient. There will be customers that will need something explained to them a million times and you just have to bear with them. Especially when they’re not rude, you’ll be eternally grateful and happy to spend a little extra time helping them out. You will also find customers that are beyond lovely and will ask about your day, rather than just complaining about the price of something. These people honestly lift your day up and get you ready for the next demon customer you have to face.
You meet the best of people
When you work in retail, especially in a big store, you get to meet a wide range of people. Some of who you’ll remain close to for long after you leave. You bond over the simplest things. One Boxing Day I worked and we had the privilege to sit down all day counting stock rather than having to deal with people – we literally just locked ourselves in a cupboard all day and opened up a puzzle we sold. It’s the little things that make you happy.
You also gossip about all the eventful things that happen at work. One summer Ed Sheeran paid a visit to the zoo with his family and it was so exciting. When he came into store, we all laughed at our managers who were bothering him more than the customers.
You grow a new respect for employees wherever you are…
To sum up, why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life is so that they grow a new respect for employees wherever they shop/eat at. Since I started working in retail I will never put something back in the wrong place, because I know how frustrating it can be to the employer. I have also grown to always be polite to the employee and never treat them as if they are not an individual. Sometimes big companies don’t pass down information to the lower-level employers so it is just unreasonable to be rude or belittling because they do not know something.
What I hate most in the world is watching a customer be incredibly rude to an employee and the staff member not knowing what to do. As much as we would like to put you in your place, we are always told to polite to customers I just wished it worked the same way!
Anyway, there are my reasons as to why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life. I would love to think that this post has inspired you to apply for a new job, but lets face it, it probably hasn’t. Working in retail sucks but at least I have done it and can take lessons learned onto my next occupations.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Comment below your worst experiences working in retail or the worse things you have seen whilst shopping!