The sins of selling stock for a living

a-woman-carrying-several-006By Scott Mills

For some of us, when we hear the word ‘retail’, the images of someone walking down Oxford Street immersing themselves with bags upon bags of Selfridges’ finest strike across our minds.


For some of us, it is the sweet sound of the till draw closing that acts as a therapeutic getaway from the stresses of everyday life.

But for the majority of us, it fills us with the nostalgia of working alongside someone we can barely stand whilst trying to upsell a plastic bag to 60 year-old ex-sales assistant Bernard, who despite your efforts to try and serve the next customer, will happily tell you about why one of his 10 marriages never materialised.

Day after day, you arrive at your workplace with a smile on your face and the mentality that no matter what the shift throws at you, you’ll rise to the challenge more gracefully than Madonna when she threw herself off stage.

However, we all know that like most things in life, it is never that simple.

It’s 1pm and upon returning from your lunch break, you find that not only is there a queue forming a sort of conga line that goes out the door but the till has crashed, the products don’t scan, five customers want refunds and there is no supervisor to be seen.

Despite this, you manage to power through it even though you’ve been told how useless you are on at least four occasions and how that said customer can apparently do the job better than you.

During this time, you are guaranteed to hear some absolute corkers come out of the mouths of some of your customers that make you wonder why there hasn’t been some sort of Martin Luther King inspirational quote made out of them.

But fear not, as I am here to uncover some of the best and most memorable quotes to ever be spoken whilst working in retail.

  1. ‘Sorry do you work here?’ikea-staff-reading2

Despite being plastered with a name badge, staff identification, shoes that Gok Wan wouldn’t been seen dead in and an oddly coloured polo top with the companies name and logo on, you always look puzzled when you hear this question.

Whenever a customer asks this, you are always fighting the urge to reply ‘nope I just wear a top with sales team written on the back and some trousers with a crotch hole in just for banter’.

2. ‘Is there a manager I can speak to?’

Ah yes there’s always one.

Usually dressed wearing a top, denim shorts and a pair of FitFlops accompanied by a bob-styled haircut and a pair of kids who are creating their own World War III in the corner of the shop by launching sweets at each other, it is very rare to get through a shift without encountering this type of person.

If you see this hairstyle, you may as well call the manager down now.

If you see this hairstyle, you may as well call the manager down now.

Whilst they most definitely have already told you how to do you job properly, they also refuse to listen to the answer you have given them despite the fact you are following the companies guidelines, policies and what you have been told by your superiors.

When the manager eventually does come down to provide you with aid in your hour of need, the answer is always the same as the one you gave the customer in the first place, hence why the result always leads in you wishing this difficult customer to enjoy the rest of their day with a smug look on your face.

3. The ‘I seemed to have misplaced my *insert name of product here*, can I have a new one?’

No, just no.

It is the equivalent of me losing a single trainer then walking back into Footlocker and asking for a new one.

You just don’t do it.

4. ‘It doesn’t scan, so does that mean it is free?’

This is probably the one saying that if every cashier received a pound for, they’d be currently sitting in a Jacuzzi in Los Angeles sipping strawberry daiquiris with Hugh Hefner and the rest of his bunnies at the Playboy mansion.

As the queue builds longer and longer, this moment of frustration always seems to occur at the busiest of times.

When your trying to find a solution to this temporary problem, it is then when you’re hit by this moment of comedy from the customer which is often met by a sarcastic grin and laugh by the cashier.

cashier one

Nothing crosses a cashiers mind at this very moment then the phrase ‘haha it is not funny but I need to laugh anyway to keep my job’.

5. The close down.

So it’s 7pm, tills are being cashed up, stock being replenished, the shop floor is being cleaned and the doors are finally shut.

It’s Friday and despite the fact you were meant to close an hour ago due to some customers choosing to come into the shop at 5.59pm stating that they only wanted to grab something quickly only for them to walk out with half the shop, you still get the odd person who wishes to ignore the fact the doors are closed.

Completely unaware of the fact that the shop looks shut and that you too may have lives of your own, they will still proceed to walk into the shop thinking that is open even when there is no money left in the tills.

As you leave work for the day, everyone is oozing with the excitement that the weekend brings.

The possibilities of spending more then you earn on a bottle of overpriced vodka to impress a girl that isn’t even interested continues to loom in the air, but not for you.

For those of us that work in retail, you are probably working all weekend and the only excitement that fills our minds is the reality of a nice dinner waiting when we get home and perhaps a nice eight hour sleep before we have to repeat this all over again.




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