As a writer for a shopping website, I’m usually explaining things from consumer’s perspective and doling out advice on where to get deals and find the best stuff. But, long before my journalism career began, I had a lot of odd jobs—and most of them were in clothing boutiques. Retail work definitely had its perks—I got some pretty sweet discounts and learned a lot about the fashion industry—but it can be a thankless gig, too. You spend a lot of time on your feet and often have to deal with some very frustrating shoppers.
I recently had dinner with a group of girls, Sarah, Kirsten and Sandy*, who all work together at the Manhattan outpost for a popular contemporary label that’s done a collaborations with several well-known brands. After a few drinks, it wasn’t long before our conversation turned to crazy customers.
Sarah: Once, these two women came in the store and one of them seemed really loopy and out of it. As they left, we saw a horse pill sized Vicodin on the counter. It had fallen out of their purses.
Kirsten: Oh! The worst people I ever helped was this couple. The husband or boyfriend or whomever kept barking orders and snapping his fingers at me like I was a dog.
Sarah: Wait, I know! Do you remember that when that creepy brother and sister came in?
Kirsten: Yes, and the brother kept ogling his sister and talking about her breasts and how good she looked in everything? That was so weird. And there’s Molly*, too. She’s terrible.
Sarah: Oh god, Molly! We have this customer who has been coming in regularly for years and more recently, like everyday. We think she’s some sort of professional singer or musician because she talks about being on stage all the time. But everytime she comes in she says, "I’m a size 6 trapped in a size 12 body. I can’t buy that because I’m going to lose weight soon."
Sandy: But she has been the same size all five years I’ve worked there. Even though it’s really annoying that she refuses to try on her correct size, it’s even more annoying that we have to spend all that time helping her, listening to the same story over and over, and then she won’t buy anything.
Kristen: Yeah, she comes in the store to look at everything at once and then goes and tries to find it on sale at a department store. Then, if something is wrong with the size, which as you can guess—it usually is—she comes crawling back to us.
Sarah: And there’s nothing we can really do.
*names have been changed
Got any retail horror stories? Share them with us in the comments below. You can also email them to me on Alison_Syrett@condenast.com or tell me on Twitter: Follow @Alison_Syrett
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