Monday, May 26, 2008

10 tips to make your retail work more fun

So, I was talking with my mom, while she was driving me to work.

I don't own a car, I don't have a drivers license.

So, she's driving me to work, and I'm looking at what she packed me for lunch and there's no goddamn snack-pack!

So, we're there and... what. OH yeah. In the car. Talking.

So I explained to her that, thus far, I've had to sign up for 9 different websites, to get the word out about Retail Hell (ish).

Let's see.

flickr (though this is just fun)

I mean, seriously? If I was 35, I'd be finished. I wouldn't be able to keep up.

Thank god I'm only 34.

So she asked me about the business blog.

"Well," I said, "I can get us on some directories and all that, but promoting a blog about soap isn't really going to get too much action. I mean, it's a niche blog, very specific. It's not like humor or web expertise or movie reviews or news or political blogs... those are things people look for every day. People don't really go around looking for soap blogs on a daily basis."

Now I found out that isn't true. I don't know how I stumbled upon (not by stumbled upon) this group, but it's simply amazing.

The United Small Soap Business Bloggers Blog Collective or TUSSBBBC for short.

Moving on.

So, she asked me what I can do for THIS site, to get more visitors. I told her that there are people out there who are interested in reading about the qualms of retail workers the world over. That my blog has a kind of niche quality, and if I continue to add funny videos, wavs and posts, that other people will come and read and comment and enjoy.

So then she said "Well, what if you wrote a post to try and show people how to make retail better."

So here are the top ten ways to try and make your retail job better. Not in any order. Although #1 is my favorite so far, as I type this.

#1 - Have a dead pool - I've worked in some crazy places. One place, the guys were so homosexually repressed, a group of them grabbed me and brought me into the basement and tied me to a poll with duct tape (true story). And then they laughed and licked their lips. (not true).

It was shortly after that that I decided to start my own dead pool. And it was so funny because the first guy I had on my list to kill die didn't die first. It was poor planning on my part, #3 got it first.

#2 - Pretend you don't see selective customers - This might be harder than it sounds, but there is a group that does these little things all over the country... I can't remember the name, hold on, let me look it up.

Ah yeah, Improve Everywhere. They do these like things where people go to a store, synchronize their watches and then freeze at 5pm, or whatever. Pretty neat.

So I think the reverse can be done. They do it in retail stores, like home depot... why not have the counter people do something similar.

You're at the counter, someone comes up and puts some products down... make pretend they aren't there. Then take the person behind them as your next customer. Look down at the products customer 1 put down and say "Where the hell did these come from?"

Hours of fun. This has a 9 out of 10 on the 'looking for a new job' scale.

#3 - (my new favorite) Pretend you're a ghost - If you work the floor, and have even the smallest amount of acting ability (like crying on cue)... meander around a bit... look down trodden... and then just let out this big sigh. You have to come across as almost giving up.

Then, when a customer asks you a question, at first act a bit surprised... then look at them. Look around you. Look behind you. Look back at them.

Say "are you talking to me?"

They say yes...

Start with the water works. Cap it off with:

"You can see me??"

Ad-lib as necessary.

This is like a 3 on the 'look for a new job' scale, because you can take this all the way and follow them around (if you have other workers in on this with you, it'll be classic) or you can let them in on the joke.

#4 - Pretend you don't speak English - Only really works if A) you know a second or third language or B) can make up a language on the spot.

Best if you're white and speak in a really heavy thick Spanish accent. Or black and can speak Yiddish.

#5 - Take your break / go to the bathroom - Ok, sounds really simple, but think of the possibilities.

You work at a grocery store, on check-out. Someone's just piled a ton of groceries on your conveyor belt. You ring in half of them... and then say "Oh my god, I have to do #2 so bad!" and take off.

No one can fire you for that... I don't think. There's actually a published case about this...
Brown vs. the state of Rhode Island.

Uh huh. Again.

#6 - Talk about the wrong item - this would work only in an electronics store, or a dvd store, video game store...

"Is Atonement a good movie?"

"It's an awesome movie. It's got car chases and... do you like Mark Whalberg? He's awesome, drives this little mini-car like... it goes like this, up a sewer pipe? He gets to bang Charlize Theron, but... pshhhh, you don't get to see it."

#7 - Become instantly allergic to the products you sell - this can go a whole bunch of different ways. Scratching, sneezing, rubbing your eyes.

You can do this with food, cosmetics... you're there, working at Macy's, and you just started your day. You're one of those perfume chicks that walk around with bottles and spray the air for people to smell and bathe in.

Customers start coming in and you wrinkle your nose... your hand slightly itches. You greet someone and they say "Can I smell?"

You spray... and then close your eyes tight and... well, this will probably get you fired. You didn't want to be a perfume girl anyway, did you.

#8 - Get into a fight with your retail worker buddies - this is always a classic.

My favorite is when your co-worker 'admits' to sleeping with your girlfriend.

You must have an audience for this.

you - "You what?"

friend #1 - "Sorry dude, it just happened like... four or five times."

you - "You slept with Sally?"

friend #1 - "I wanted to tell you..."

friend #2 - "Yeah, we all wanted to tell you. Ran the train on her last week..."

Make sure A) that Sally doesn't exist and B) you're single. Your girl (or guy) finds out about it, they usually won't be too happy.

If your girl/guy is REALLY cool, you can stage a supernatural break up... the possibilities are limitless.

Hey, Dean Yager! (inside joke)

#9 - make subtle jokes of customers - ok, subtle isn't the right word.

Let's say you work at a bakery. And you see one of America's overweight. Chances are, you get some in from time to time, at a bakery.

Hell, I'm slightly overweight, get off my back.

"Oh my god, I could eat all of this!"

"Yeah, I know."

See? Nice and subtle. You don't have to say "No kidding." although that wouldn't be so bad... but "You think? Stop breathing, I feel the pull," or "You can if you want, we just got a defibrillator in," or "This is the third time you've been in this week, I think you are eating all of it."

Those would be... well, you say them if you want to quit or collect unemployment.

#10 - be honest with your customers - this should really be #9a, but I'm getting tired of typing.

This works for people working at clothing stores, electronic stores... pretty much everywhere where customers need the advice and opinion of trained and knowledgeable sales forces.

Anything having to do with taste and the edification of the purchaser.

"What do you think? Too tight? Too hippy?"

"I think you look like a neon sign that says "I'm a single mom and I'll take anything that doesn't openly drool."


"I'm not sure if this is what I need for my computer."

"Yeah, I figured that. You work at the movie theater as an usher. I've seen you. You take my ticket. You're really good at that. Stick with what you're good at. Here's an ipod. My blind cat has an ipod."

And so on.


So, there are some simple things that will probably get you fired, unless you're smart, but will most certainly make a boring day a better one.

I do not endorse these things... you do them, you get fired... not my problem. These are just for fun. I can see some moron try to sue me after doing #1, specifically, or #7.

Christ, to even have to write that in this day and age makes me think bad thoughts.



Alex Mcone said...

I go to retail stores. And if I see one of them do any of the things you just said, I'm going to scream "JACK PAINZ !!"

John Painz said...

... who the hell is Jack Painz?

Anonymous said...

This is incredible. I work at a small hardware store and while I might not do any of these exactly (I actually need the job), I hope it will spawn some ideas.