Tag Archives: Business

Retail Robot has packed up its parts…

27 Sep

In the midst of a terrible economy, I did the unthinkable: I managed to find an entry level marketing job that is with a good company. After going through fifteen interviews with about six different companies in August and wearing suits more times a week than even Diane Keaton does, let’s just say that I was exhausted, on the verge of tears and really fucking sick of talking about myself and where I want to be five years from now.

Seriously, if anyone should be protesting anything, they should be fighting against ever having companies ask that question in interviews. During one particular interview–an interview that I knew was going to lead nowhere but decided to use for “practice” anyway–I was particularly tempted to just go all out and say what I really would like to be doing five years from now:

“Well, ideally I’d like a stable income of some sort, a relationship with a  cute, sane guy (preferably with a Scottish accent, but I realize that’s just being picky), an apartment of my own and a cat.”

That’s it. Because, up until now, I’ve tried to stick to such harsh guidelines for myself that I feel like I’ve missed out. And, let’s face it–so much happens within a five year span. All I know is that I want a few simple things, and I could really care less about the rest.

Saturday was my last day in Retail Robot land, and I was able to do a lot of thinking while putting up the sales signs for the very last time. I realized that, as much as I like to say that I enjoy change and enjoy trying new things, I find myself being gridlocked by the allure of security. I think many people do: the boyfriend you’re afraid to leave just for the fear of being alone, the area you’ve grown up in that you’d like to leave but never really do, the job that you have been at for so long that you don’t even know how to be the new person again at a company, and it scares you so much that you just stay in one place. I realized that, at this point in my life, I have to accept that a lot of my security blankets have been pulled out from underneath me. I am no longer in school for the first time in my life, and I have had to quit a place that I’ve been working with for a long time. And even though it’s a bit scary, it’s also pretty exhilarating.

Security is comforting and, yes, it keeps us from being hurt. But being safe can lead to such a stagnant life. Since graduating, and since quitting my internship and my retail job, I’ve found myself slowly peeling away my security blanket and walking slowly through the world without that extra layer of protection on my shoulders. I know that there are a lot of changes and situations that I’m going to have to face throughout the coming year–some of which I am very hopeful about, and some of which I’m not so sure of. But you only live once!

I will certainly miss my co-workers. Before working at that store, I had never been around so many people who understood my way of thinking and my interests. I will miss discussing video games for eight hours with a certain co-worker, and I will miss pondering the meaning of  life and whether we are all in the Matrix with the forty year-old hippie dirtbiker co-worker. All in all, there was never a dull conversation at that store. But, in the end, I walked away from my one and only retail job with a smile in my face and a new-found sense of self in my soul.

I certainly would like to continue this blog with some new, non-retail material. Stay tuned!

After two weeks, I return to retail. Chaos ensues.

14 Mar

Oh crazy customers, how I missed you

In the past two weeks, I had a temporary vacation from the world of retail. And, while I did enjoy experiencing what not working during the weekend felt like, I also felt terribly bored. All I could really think about during my weekends was what I was missing. How could I live a week without the drama of crazy customers? How was I going to function without witnessing a shoplifter or getting yelled at by super rich women who get kicks out of using coupons even though they probably cut them up with kitchen shears from Williams-Sonoma? I realized that after working in retail for almost six years, I have been somewhat conditioned to expect a certain percentage of drama and craziness in my life. And without it, well, life just seems so boring.

Last weekend, I was finally called into work. As I walked into the store, I breathed a sigh of relief: employees were standing off to the side bitching out customers under their breath, my boss was walking around and emmiting the typical American Psycho aura that he always seems to give off, and customers were setting off security alarms. In the words of J.K. Rowling‘s oh-so-profound last sentence in the Harry Potter series, all was well.

For like ten minutes, at least.

After that, it was as if our store had been punished for letting me back in. In a matter of an hour, the paper in our digital photo kiosk ran out, two people were caught shoplifting (one of which was a particularly gutsy customer who power-walked out of our store with a gift bag full of items), there was a consistent line of at least six customers at any given minute, and as I was running to the back of the store to grab a can of tuna for an elderly customer, I was asked by two different people to let them into the restroom. After I came back to the register and dealt with the line of customers, I turned to my co-worker and said, “Jeez, why is it so busy?” He gave me a weird look and replied, “Um, it’s always busy on Sundays. Remember?”

It seems that I really had forgotten what working in the store was like. After having a wealthy customer throw money at me and then ask me if I had counted it correctly, I realized that customers weren’t as kind and kooky as I had remembered them to be. At the end of that Sunday, my forgetfulness also caused me to scan in the magazine credits and seal them up into the envelope without putting the shipping label on. After telling my co-worker that I needed to open up the sealed package in order to get the shipping label still in there, she began cutting it open. As I was ringing up a customer, I heard her laughing. Not only had I managed to seal up the envelope with the shipping label still inside, but I had also managed to put fifty sheets of price adjustments in the envelope as well. I wonder what the magazine company would have thought if they had received those in the mail! My co-worker then turned to the customer I was ringing up and said, “Better count your money when you get it back. She’s not all here tonight.” She then proceeded to run off, still laughing, to tell our shift supervisor. I was not taken seriously for the rest of the night.

All in all, being back at work after the two-week respite allowed me to sink my teeth back into the healthy dose of chaos and craziness that I had been missing–even if a portion of it was entirely my fault.

Would You Like To Eat My Nuts?

2 Sep

Up-selling products has been a trend in businesses and retail for quite a while. One of the most common up-sells, as many are familiar with, is the age-old and often dangerous “Would you like to supersize that?” question. While I do not work at a McDonald’s and will hopefully never have to eat any sort of supersized meal in my lifetime, I have often found my managers asking me to go above and beyond my job as a cashier and promote certain items that are monthly “up-sells.” Based on my discussions with fellow retailers, up-selling (or suggestive selling) has quickly become just another typical duty of cashiers all over the country. And, in my opinion, suggestive and promotional selling are not activities that I feel my enthusiasm getting “supersized” about in the near future.

Some cashiers, as I have witnessed, are naturally good at suggestive selling. It could be a completely random product–like loofahs–and they will be able to effortlessly ring up a customer’s items, point over to the promotional item and say something along the lines of “Well, hey! Would you like to buy a loofah for that body wash that you bought today? They’re great value and our customers absolutely love them!” My favorite up-sell was when we had to promote selling nuts, which made us all crack up consistently. “Hey (insert co-worker name), want to taste my nuts?” “Hey, want to try my nuts? They’re extra salty.” Yeah, you can imagine.   My approach to up-selling promotional items is a bit more, well, lazy. I usually put a few of the promotional items near the credit card machine and, after all the items have been rung out, I simply point to the product and say “Would you like to add one of these to your order today?” Through trial and error I have learned that even mentioning the product is often too confusing for customers. A few months back, for example, our promotional up-sell was cookies or some kind of sweet snack. My district manager actually called our store that day, spoke to me (since I was the main cashier) and told me that my goal was to sell 20 of these cookies and then call her at the end of the day and report back my total sales. So I figured I’d attempt to not be lazy and actually focus my energy on selling the product. Here is an example of the results:

Elderly lady puts her Fleet enemas on the counter and I begin scanning them. I point to the cookies.

Me: “Would you like to try some of our cookies today? They’re only a dollar and they taste great!”

Elderly lady: “What tastes great?”

Me: “Those cookies. They are a dollar. Would you like to buy some?”

Elderly lady: “I did not buy any cookies.”

Me: “Exactly, which is why I’m asking you if you’d like to buy some today.”

Elderly lady: “Buy what?”

Me: “The cookies.”

Elderly lady: “Well how much are they?”

Me: “A dollar.”

Elderly lady: “Five dollars? Wait how much do I owe you? Do I have the receipt?”

Me: “Forget it.”

I kid you not, this is how the majority of my transactions went that day. Or if, God forbid, my customer wasn’t elderly and actually understood what I was saying, they often said that they were either diabetic, didn’t like the store brand cookies, or had already bought dessert items/were on diets and didn’t need to eat any more. Oh, and let’s just say I kind of pulled a trick out of the elderly book and “forgot” to report back to my district manager that day. I bet she doesn’t even eat our bloody cookies.

Despite my failed attempts at up-selling, I still managed to nab fourth place in our yearly district competition for people who have done the most up-sells. I blame it on the fact that I work a lot at one of the highest-traffic stores in the area, but who knows, maybe people really do need a lot of loofahs and cookies after all.

Does anyone have any funny/scary/interesting suggestive selling stories? I’ve love to hear them!

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