Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Is How We Make The Retail Sausage

I ache in places I never knew existed.

Even in my youth, I never worked retail. My introduction to the working world started in Princeton University's Firestone Library, and I have barely budged from the library world. It's a sedentary world filled with chubby women in bad clothes. We sit in chairs 90% of the time. My people! What am I doing abandoning you for customer service-oriented retail?

Oh wait, this is a job I can actually hired for and have a chance at. Hummph.

We started putting the store together on Wednesday. Our opening day is October 4th, and that gives us 3 weeks to learn the product, our coworkers and their quirks, and make the decisions about what to showcase and when to bring out the backstock. What we are doing now is putting every item on the shelves and fixtures.

I start work at 8am, just after the inventory and stock team have put the first truck's pallets of shoes on the floor. Then the whole store starts working like a little ant colony. We pick up some boxes and we take them back to the shelves for that size. Some people deputize themselves as carton openers, some as box breakers, but most of us dash down the aisles, saying "excuse me!" as we hunt for the shelf for the 6N shoes and try to remember which are the athletic brands.

Then we have a break with a little chat and a morning rally, and then break up. We, the women's division, vacuums our floor and dust our fixtures and shine the metal, and wax the racks. And then our pallets are ready and we get to work. We unpack and hang the items, take off the plastic, and put it out on the floor. The process isn't micromanaged--we move already as a team. Sometimes you notice the boxes are piling up and you break them down. Sometimes you put the last item on the rack and you take it to the floor. Sometimes you notice that one other woman is diligently unsheathing the dresses and you step in to help and meet her in the middle of the pile. Just keep doing is our motto.

I am on my feet and moving 8 hours a day. I told my mom and sisters that I would be getting a manicure/pedicure just for the chance to sit in the massage chair for an hour.

But oh, the clothes! We have so many nice things. I totally miss you, Cookbook and Genevieve, because I want to drag you into the store and dress you up. We have a brocade dress that Cookbook would look great in and we are also opening with a plus line so Genevieve and I will find clothing that will not make us hate our bodies. (Dibs on the olive green sweater with electric blue trim.)

As for me and my budget, I have vowed to buy for the size I am, not the size I think I am. I am also looking to purchase items that I can use to build my wardrobe and wear for a long time. I get a 20% discount on merchandise, but the day before the store opens we will have a little party and employee shopping day where we can get 30% off. Additionally, the buyers and vendors for the women's division (which is where I'll be working)have given us a bonus budget of $150 for clothes that can be worn at work (interpreted loosely). So odds are that yes, I will buying a pair of jeans. Not only a fashionable pair of dark denim, but a pair of jeans that actually fits. And if they are too long, I going to get the in-house tailor to hem them for me.

And I'll be using my employee discount for Christmas/birthday presents. Let me know what you want! Single Stila eyeshadows for everyone! Onesies for the babies! Sweaters galore!


Anne At Large said...

Wow! I am kind of jealous since it sounds like you have a good team and some fun perks, but most of all I hope you are wearing good sensible shoes during all of this! Hope you pick up some good duds while you're there :)

Kerry said...

Oh, I will! :)

And yes--the first day I wore some older sneaks, but shortly realized my feet smelled like swamp creatures and then decided to wear my nifty new houndstooth Nikes.

Birdie said...

I second the sensible shoes! I spent the last two years working at a coffee shop, so kind of food service retail. What I remember most about the early days were backaches and finding muscles in my shoulders and thighs I never knew existed. It sounds like a cool place to work. I'm glad I came across your blog - this was a delightful and well-written post! Thanks!