I’ve done my fair share of retail work. I was a “visual specialist” (aka person in charge of making the store stay pretty) at JCPenny and also spent a better part of a decade working in bridal shops. Big Box stores and Mom & Pops are each their own brand of crazy.
With a department store, you get corporate crazy. Lots of underemployed men bossing around other people who are underpaid, working way too hard and treated pretty much like dirt by both the corporate office and its management underlings. Nothing like having just graduated from college, only being able to land an $8 an hour job and having a lower management guy talk to you like a child to ruin your enthusiasm for being a useful member of the workforce. I’ll never forget bursting into tears in a post-graduation “What am I doing with my life? Am I about to be FIRED?” moment and having my boss pull open his desk drawer to reveal a readily available box of tissues and saying something to the effect that this wasn’t the first time a woman had cried in his office.
Mom & Pop small businesses are like joining a dysfunctional extended family – both wonderful and horrible all at the same time. It puts you much closer to all the money anxiety and therefore closer to all the crazy behavior of the owner. The stories I could tell you about the behavior of bridal shop owners under stress are chilling. I’m talking, trying to pass off shop samples as new gowns and one particularly horrid Saturday morning when a bride called the cops because our shop owner was holding her dress for ransom over an alteration dispute. Did I mention that it was HER WEDDING DAY? The stress level at two out of the three bridal shops I worked at was insane and it was all on the owners. The brides themselves were dreams – sometimes slightly neurotic, but they were brides. They are entitled.
Needless to say, I don’t miss retail. I loved matching people with the perfect product. I loved talking to people and making them happy. I hated working for other people either on a corporate or personal level.
Enter Direct Sales. The only person I answer to is me. When the budget is tight, its on me and I can get crazy like my bridal shop bosses or I can realize where I need to change and improve things and – WAIT FOR IT – I can do those things. No waiting around, hoping and praying that corporate give me a raise or that our sale will go up that month so the owner stops yelling at all of us. I’m the boss. I make the changes, do the hard work, and change the outcome.
I’ll never go back to regular retail. Owning my own Pure Romance business has given me all the best parts of sales and none of the worst.
Have you ever worked retail? Tell me some of your experiences!