I’m In It For The Clothes

Chronicles of a brief retail employee.


​Think back to the last time you went to the mall to go shopping. Maybe you already knew exactly what you wanted or maybe you just felt like looking around, but the freaking sales lady (or man) wouldn’t leave you alone! Don’t you just hate those people. Those overly aggressive, overly smiley, spurters of useless information. Yeah, i’m one of them now.

Fake it ’til you make it
That’s what the girl I shadowed on my first shift told me after I confided in her how nervous I was. Smile, sound enthusiastic! she said. Meanwhile, I’m telling about ten people a minute that “our scarves are on sale”, “two for $30”, how enthusiastic can you expect me to be? I mean nobody truly cares. That last guy didn’t even make eye contact with me. Like c’mon man “How’s it going?” is a QUESTION, not a STATEMENT.
Complain as i will, this environment has no time for my insecurities. It’s cut throat, expecting each employee to individually sell close to two thousand dollars worth of merchandise each shift. The manager overseeing this doesn’t take shit from anybody. It’s like she’s the head of a covert mission to infiltrate the shoppers of Toronto and exploit them for their money. Not a single person comes through that door without you greeting them. We even have walkie talkies so we can take down the shoppers more efficiently. Passing on your left, ON YOUR LEFT, help that girl find a size. And to make sure we’re actually completing our missions as told. Shannon, you have thirty minutes to make $300, you best leave that folding station and sell some clothes right now girl.

All of this in heels by the way. It’s expected of you as an employee to look presentable. At a restaurant this typically means clean. In retail, this means well dressed, wearing makeup, hair done. I was actually told before I was hired that should I come to work having a lazy day (for example, my hair in a bun) that I should compensate in some way, by doing something extra with either my makeup or my outfit. Needless to say, I looked good and just about killed my feet in the process. Operation retail lasted six hours instead of the intended five because the mall closes at nine but refuses to rush people out of the stores (as mission exploit shoppers of money never quits). I spent about twenty minutes convincing a pregnant woman that she looked great in a jacket meant for someone half her age and that buying it was absolutely a good investment for her even though she was most definitely going to out grow it in a month. Only 5 months along? You should be fine. It fits you so well and that colour is honestly perfect for your hair. Yes i know how fake I sounded, they converted me. It’s OKAY, i hate myself too.
I also hate the customers though. The savages who made me spend two hours refolding stacks of t-shirts and jeans. You awful people. The only thing that sustains me are the outfits I envision while I fold. The shirt over there with the pants over here. Note to self: buy that once my discount kicks in. Im literally in it for the clothes.

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