Friday, 18 December 2015

Defying the Retail Stereotype

You have no idea how long I have been planning to write this. I would go as far as betting that it's actually been sat as a draft since I first left my job at Poundland.
Yes, so for those who don't know before this cleaning job I am currently at in my little town, I worked at a big Poundland down in Newcastle. Other than that, in the retail sector I have also worked for New Look and three very different types of stores.
Anyways you all know the reputation working in retail has and by that I mean how customers can be mean, rude and downright disrespectful to a lot of workers. This was especially prominent in a 'bargain' store where people seemed to assume that by working there I was uneducated or an idiot.
 However I also had some really good times while working at Poundland and I want to share a few of those with you today.

One of my all time favorite memories had to include a dog didn't it?! In my position I was responsible for the clothing, DIY and Pet isles, can you guess which was my favorite haha. Well when stocking up pet I'd often get talking to different people about their animals and what they were buying etc. One  lovely lady was stocking up on treats as she was going to soon become a rescue Mama of a dog from Romania. She stood for ages talking to me, telling me all about the process and the dog that would be coming to live with her soon and promised that when she arrived that she'd come back so I could meet her. I loved talking to her and hearing the story but never really thought she'd come back. To my surprised a good few weeks later I was tapped on the shoulder and she said 'We got her! She's outside :)' I literally dropped everything and ran to the door, dropped to my knees and had lots of doggy love from the sweetest little rescue ever - it made my day.
Not only that but the lady must of appreciated my enthusiasm too as I was complimented by her to fellow staff members.

Another great, but sad memory is that of an old man. If you know me you know I  have a weak spot for old men and not in a weird way, but since I lost my Granda I just find myself like that.
This was a morning that I was working on the clothing section and a sweet old man came tottering round the corner from the health and beauty isle looking a little lost. I asked him if he was okay and he asked if I wouldn't mind helping him finding a few bits. I hopped down from my stool and spent about 10minutes with him picking up the bits and pieces he said he needed. Once we'd completed his list he stopped and put his hand on my arm and said, 'Thank you very much for taking the time to help a silly old man. I lost my wife a few weeks ago and she used to do all of this shopping and stuff.'. I filled up, tried not to sound too emotional when I gave him my apologies for his loss and told him it was my job to help. But he proceeded to tell me that no one had helped him or given him as much time as I had.
It made me feel bad that not every retail assistant fulfilled their job description to the right standard but I was happy to have been able to help him.

Lastly I'll include a little funny though slightly embarrassing for me! I am the type of person who just cannot be rude. When a customer is talking to you you cannot just say, sorry I'm busy and leave - unless of course you've been called to the till or something. So when a guy from Africa wanted to get my opinion on his poetry/song (that just happened to be about 10-15 minutes long) I listened. Other staff members would come by and laugh behind their hands as he sang and I stood there listening. He was so passionate and genuinely wanted my feedback, especially on pronunciation of words and if he was using the right words with English not being his first language.
I think all in all I probably stood talking to this guy for at least 35 minutes and he probably would have been there longer if a member of staff hadn't come to ask me to help with another customer, but I really didn't mind. Before my social anxiety got worse I loved meeting the vast diversity of people I did and personalities like this guy not only made my shift go faster, but with a smile too.

I met many other fabulous people during my just under a year stint working for Poundland...obviously there were the awkward, sassy customers too but they aren't worth remembering. If you have worked in a retail store before I'd love to hear about it, especially the good memories so please share them in the comments :)


  1. What lovely memories! The story about the old man made me tear up just a little bit. It's nice to read some of the positive retail experiences for once, we seem to focus so much on the negative but you're absolutely right, they're not the ones worth remembering.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I would hate to work in retail as I have seen some people be very rude and there is no need for it but you sound like you had some good times and you are a very sweet person to help out the little old man, sort of thing that I would do :)

    Pams Stuff and Things

  3. What a fantastic read! I always feel sorry for retail workers, especially at Christmas, it must be such a tiring job, I know I couldn't do it. Retail stories would be such a good idea for a new blog series!

  4. These are so sweet! I've worked in retail for the last 3 years now and have some great stories, but I hate that my work is often tainted with the nasty customers which takes away from some of the lovely people I get to meet!

  5. Awww, the story about the lady and her dog is the sweetest thing. It always makes a difference when you get a customer whose happy to stand and chat with you and not shout at you. I remember those moments from my retail days because they're the happy moments. These are lovely Danielle and this was such a sweet post to read too. - Tasha

  6. You know, I used to work in Tesco and I had a great time. My first job was in Poundstretcher and I met some wonderful people. I actually miss my retail job, because I loved helping people. Weirdly, despite not liking people, I'm really patient and retail jobs suit me quite well. I love to help strangers, I love that the interactions are usually quite straight forward and I loved just going home and leaving my job at work.

    I've helped many people do their shopping, I loved helping people buy their baking ingredients and chatting to people about cooking. I have a great memory for where things were so I loved being able to direct people to exactly where their product was - I loved saying things like "if you hit the marmite, you've gone too far!". I like to think I could make people's day a little better by helping them with the shopping.

    I remember one customer, he was a old man and he'd bought in a clipping from the newspaper about these cheap chickens, but I didn't know about the offer and I explained to him maybe the offer hadn't started yet and the advert was just a little early. Except about five minutes after he'd disappeared, I found the chickens and then I jogged down the store looking for him to tell him about the chickens. He was so happy and there's something so nice about making people happy for the simplest thing.

    You've made me all nostalgic for my supermarket days.

    This might sound really weird, but since we went vegan, I have been feeling so much kindness and compassion towards everything, people, animals, anything. It's almost like, I decided to give animals that compassion and respect they deserve and then boom, it's taken over my life.

  7. Ahh, what lovely memories, especially the one about the Romanian rescue dog, it's nice of the lady to come back :) stereotypes are often inaccurate and silly. I'm a florist and (although I'm not in that line of work at the moment) people always assume it's a lah de dah job where you spend time hanging about and doing a bit of flower arranging, whereas it's not like that at all, a lot of the time you're working really hard and you're rushed off your feet. A lot of people are rude to workers in retail which is awful but it's good to know that there are some nice people out there, too! Have a lovely weekend, Danielle :) xx

    ♥.•*¨ Amanda Says ¨*•.♥

  8. This is such a cute post! I've worked in retail for just over two years and I whinge about it all the time but I do have a few good memories!

    In my last job, I had an old man come in one day asking if I'd seen his wife, he'd lost her somewhere in the shopping centre and didn't know what to do. He was so upset so I sat him down in our store, made him a cup of tea and rang the centre's police officer to look for her. It turned out she'd just got on the bus home and forgotten that she was with him, but I sat with the man for a good 45 minutes chatting and reassuring him that it'll be fine. He was so grateful and the next week he came into the store again to bring me a bottle of wine and some chocolate to say thankyou.

    My manager wasn't best pleased with me because I spent so long with him and ignoring customers who were going to be making the store commission (I worked in a phone shop so very sales driven) but it meant a lot more that I could help him out and I was so happy to have made an actual difference!

    Sian xo

  9. This was such a lovely post to read, and your memories are so sweet! I'm incredibly shy and have been working in retail for a few years, and it really does get me down sometimes how rude and horrible people can be. The place where I work is quite an upmarket supermarket, so a lot of the customers are people who have never had to work jobs like that and don't seem to recognise that you are an actual person with actual feelings. A lot of them just assume you're an idiot because you work in a shop, and I hate that!
    It's just nice to be reminded that there are also a lot of really lovely people out there too, it's just unfortunate that a lot of the horrible ones are those that stick out in your memory.

  10. This is a lovely post. I never has a retail job although I did work in a chip shop for 4years as a teen and had some nice customer memories and also working on a hotel switchboard, I had most people being really rude but there was the odd brilliant customer!x

  11. Yes! Lovely post. I worked in retail in a local shop before I left to go travelling and no doubt I'll be back in my retail job when I go back.
    A lot of people treated me badly. It's very annoying as in my head I'm thinking "I have a degree, what do you have?"
    I had one man come in and start accusing me of trying to poison and kill his family because his wife came in and bought house coal which she was apparently going to use on a bbq. How is that my fault exactly? During his rant I told him not to be so rude. He asked to see the manager who then apologised because "the customer is always right." Once he left, my boss agreed with me that the customers were both morons.
    BUT then there's so many lovely customers too like the ones who ask me for recipe ideas and give me chocolates at Christmas. The good with the bad.

  12. I love this post Danielle! Lovely stories. I couldn't hold my tears when reading the second story :(
    The first one is wonderful! So nice to hear that you met the dog. The third one is funny XD those people sure do make one smile and make someone's day xo