Monday, May 4, 2015

how to shop like a decent human being

As an employee of the retail world for almost 3 years, I have been collecting words of advice for customers and future customers on what to do and mostly what not to do when shopping at your favorite clothing store. These are bits of wisdom and advice that might come off harsh, but trust me, they are only the actions of a decent human being.
1) Someone helped you or greeted you or tried to help you. Do your best to remember who it was and assume he or she is working on commission. If you can't remember a name, describe what they look like or what they were wearing. Nothing is more frustrating than spending 45 minutes with a customer looking for sizes and offering fitting room advice and then having that customer approach the register and say no one helped them. Someone tried. If you truly go into a store and know exactly what you want and pick it up all by yourself, point to someone. Someone said hi to you when you walked in. 9 times out of 10 associates are working on commission or have sales goals they need to reach and only get credit for the sales that customers acknowledge when they get up to the register. Unless you walk in and no one greets you and every sales associate blatantly ignores you or your cries for help, someone helped you or tried. Acknowledge them.
2) If the store closes in 20 minutes or less turn around and go home. I've made it a personal rule to not enter a retail store with an hour left before closing. Why? Because they're trying to fold down the store and get everything looking nice so they can close and go home. I loved when customers came in at 8:45 PM and breathlessly said to me, "I used to work in retail so I know you guys are closing, but I'll be really quick!!!!" You used to work in retail? Then you know how annoying you are and you know how little I care that you used to work in retail. I'm pretty sure you'll be ok if you don't get a new sweater at 8:53 PM. Stop messing up our piles and wait til tomorrow.

3) I want to have the your item. I am floored when I check an item for a customer, we don't have it and then they look at me suspiciously. Like why would I lie to you? I want to sell you as much crap as possible. My job is more difficult if we don't have the item. When we say we don't have it, we actually don't have it.
4) "Can I help you find your size?" is retail code for "do not mess up that effing pile of shirts I just folded." All clothing stores have different organization and appearance standards, but usually when an associate offers to find a size for you, they just folded that pile and don't want you to mess it up. Just let us help you, please. It will save us both time and me silently cursing your existence watching you pull your medium t-shirt from the middle of my beautiful stack.

5) Keep your final sale garbage and last season trash. Don't try to return it if it's a final sale or past the 30 day or whatever policy. You're confused if you think we don't recognize stuff from last season or 4 seasons ago and we talk about you if you're the idiot who's trying to return a sweater from 3 Christmases ago. Just stop. Final sale actually means final sale. I'm sure you have returned something that was supposed to be final and whined about it to the cashier and they let you return it because we don't want to argue, but know that it was annoying and know that you were wrong.
6) We definitely talk about you in the back if you're rude, high maintenance, annoying or all of the above. We have nothing better to do and you make our lives more difficult, so of course we're going to talk about you. And please don't try and tell me you don't do the same thing at your job. Also we will point out your craziness to our co-workers and they will subtly try to avoid you. So don't be annoying because everyone will know.

7) Your 65 year old grandmother is not a student. J.Crew offers a student and teacher discount and I have never seen this more abused. The student discount is this nice thing we try to do for poor college students who can't really afford our clothes but still want to go in debt buying it. My favorite is when I ask to see someone's student ID and they wave it weirdly or cover up their face or give it to me upside down or flash it for 2 seconds. Yeah I'm gonna give it to you, but just know that you're a liar and I know you're a liar.
8) The discounts and promotions are what they are. J.Crew is always running promotions left and right and they're hard to keep track of, but usually they last a few weeks and associates get the gist of it and know what's discounted and what's not. Don't try and tell me you went to another J.Crew and they were offering 50% off sale instead of 40% and you're a student and it's also marked down even more online. Give it up already! I don't know about other clothing retailers, but I think J.Crew offers very generous sales so take what you can get and stop making up your own discounts. If you can't afford it, don't buy it.

9) Please don't make me call multiple stores and check our inventory for you $24.99 50% off final sale tshirt. What we have in the store is what we have. Yeah, we can definitely order stuff online for you, but if it's sold out online, get over it. I also love when customers tell me, "Oh I you had so many a week ago!" or something. Why didn't you buy it then? I have no sympathy for your indecisiveness. You snooze you loose, especially when it comes to J.Crew final sale. On a similar note, I am very happy to check other stores and online for any full price item we currently are out of in the store. 

10) If you don't know what 50% off an item is, go the eff home. It is astounding to me the number of people who ask me how much something is 50% off. CUT IT IN HALF. It's literally the only discount I can do in my head. Totally ask me how much 25, 30 or 40% is, but know that I'm going to get a calculator to figure it out, so maybe you could use the one on your phone because that's what it's for.
11) You are instantly the most annoying person if you're complaining about our municipal bag charge. A lot of cities in the U.S. have been adopting a bag charge to cut down on paper and plastic waste. Usually it's a 5-10 cent charge WHICH IS LITERALLY NOTHING in comparison to your probably $20 purchase. So when you complain about it I think you're 1) poor 2) hate the earth 3) the most annoying person. It's 5 cents. That's one nickel. I have 8 floating at the bottom of my purse and I want to grab it and throw it between your eyes. Also it is not cute when you say you don't want a bag, realize you're not getting a bag then ask, "oh, can I actually get a bag?" Yeah, it's 5 cents.
12) Please buy your excursion vest when we get them in the store AT THE END OF AUGUST so I don't have to call Manhattan on December 23 cuz your basic daughter needs it for Christmas. If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider yourself blessed. This vest sucks and people ask for it from October-April and we sell out around the first week of December. Oh and the herringbone one is ugly, I don't care that it's on Pinterest and you can only find it on J.Crew Factory, so go home.

13) We are human and we make mistakes. I am so so sorry that I forgot to check for your tank top because I was trying to help 16 other customers, put clothes away and cashier. There is a difference between an associate who genuinely forgets about someone versus an associate who hears a request and chooses to ignore it and I know it's impossible to tell which one, but assume it's the first one. Remember we want to help you and have your item because it makes our life easier.
I know this was long but it was necessary. There are probably 6,000 more things I could say, but these are the biggest pet peeves and annoyances for me. Also I recognize that sometimes a store has genuinely terrible service, you don't get helped and you feel ignored. I have yet to go into that store, but I totally understand that this is how you might feel about your shopping experience and in that case, I'm sorry.


  1. I actually love this! Some of these things I had no idea about! I'm not a huge shopper, and when I am I try to be nice and remember the names of the people who help and rave about them at the register! But things like the "can i help you find your size?" thing are good to know hahaha i'm totally that person who just goes through the whole pile, then tires to fold the shirts myself and they just look like shiz haha. This post is honestly great.

    1. Thanks Brooke :) Glad I could shed some light!

  2. I love Brooke's comment haha. And I agree with all. My biggest pet peeve working in retail for 2 ish years was when people would get real sassy and judgey about how expensive things were. I know the jeans are very expensive ma'am. That's why I work here -- so I can get a discount so I can afford them.

    PREACH. I always love your posts sista.

    1. Haha remember how you walked into this store and decided to shop here? I'm glad you have felt my pain :)

  3. hahah i loved this and i laughed multiple times, especially at "like why would i lie to you?"

  4. hahahahah i loved this. died at the nickel part seriously L-edOL