Monday Musings. Retails From The Dark Side

Happy Monday everyone!   The sun is shining. The outside temperature is warm, yet cool enough to allow for a great hair day. The humidity hasn’t ambushed the tresses yet. I should be outside but I’m incredibly happy to be in front of my computer and writing the blog!

A great hair day

A great hair day and HAPPY to be writing today!  I wanted a big pic of me so you wouldn’t forget what I look like!

I’m still getting used to the new time management—and during last week’s days off, Roman came to visit. As usual, we had a great time!

me and Roman

Always fun with Roman!!  We had a most enjoyable time with each other!

As I rest my aching little size 8 1/2 feet, I want to tell you what I’ve experienced in the world of retail thus far! I’m not talking about the merch (That’s insider for merchandise. I feel so cool).

My aching feet

My feet need to rest upon fluffy pillows because…

Via Spiga flats. So pretty. So painful.

 Although these beautiful Via Spiga flats are so incredibly stunning, they are incredibly painful to wear for more than 6 hours!  My feet were crying!

No. I’m talking about the customer experience and other realizations.

I never realized that the majority of sales assistants were paid on commission. But the reality is, in high-end department stores as well as other major stores, the sales help is paid strictly on commission for the items that they sell.  Some lucky S/A’s are paid both hourly and commission, but for the most part….

And that’s the most daunting part to me of working retail.  When I sell something, I hate getting caught up in that commission bullshit.  I want to sell a product that I believe in.  I don’t want to sell something that someone is on the fence about and I don’t want to force someone into a sale.  I want  customers to be sure that the purchase made will be a lasting and permanent one because I don’t want a return.

when someone looks at merch like this. Its going back

When a customer gets this look you KNOW that the item purchased is coming right back!

Returns = draws against commission. 

I want to help a customer who is pretty much decisive in what they are looking for and someone who treats me like an equal and not the household help.

It sucks when I very pleasantly ask someone if they would like assistance only to have them say “I’m just browsing”  and seconds later find that same customer is  working with a different sales assistant.

What am I?  Chopped liver? Is it my crossed-eyes?  Am I not hip enough? Is it my fish lips that need fillers? My Long Guylind accent? My fat ass??

Lucy it doesnt work

Am I THAT disgusting to you, dear customer?

 Regardless, I’m enjoying most of the customers.  And 99 percent of the people who come in to shop are really, really nice. And it is fun to engage in conversation with other humans rather than talk to Chippy or myself all day!

You talking to me

Chippy in his “You talkin’ to ME?” mode!  Um. Yeah Chippy. I AM talking to you. Nobody else will talk to me!

Some days in retail are fantastic!  Lots of sales, activity and all-around great customers. Other days can be atrocious—no customers, no sales—and wondering just how many times the merch can be arranged or the shelves dusted.

Then there are the crazy days.  Those days when you work, work, work so hard and have the customers that don’t buy. They only bye-bye!  The days when some costumers who don’t buy are seemingly testing your limits of sanity.  That was my day yesterday! For some reason, my retail timing was slightly off and the purchasing customers eluded me.

nervous breakdown

Yup!  That was a part of my  yesterday!

An hour was spent with a delightful woman. I swear, she was a riot and I had a wonderful time with her and her sister.  I will call her “Small Handbag Lady“.  She brought her little dog into the store. Little dogs are always fun—especially when they are well trained. They are actually better behaved than the wild wolf offspring of parents who allow their little darlings to run through department after department destroying every display they can pass. This is especially entertaining when mommy completely ignores the feral fruit of her loins as he screams, flails, and performs gymnastics routines in front of the glass cabinets!

department store gymnastics

Oh trust me, I’ve seen kids perform department store gymnastics more intense than this while mommy and daddy ignore the dangerous feats of humanity!!

Anyway, Small Handbag Lady was looking for a small cross-body bag to use while travelling.  We studied every small bag in the department.  Bags were either too small or not small enough.  Straps were heavy. The bags were heavy. There weren’t enough zippers.  She almost found one but wasn’t sure.  Her sister didn’t like it.

In the meantime, to get the proper feel, she tried each bag out by placing items from the bag she was carrying into the bags she was looking at. One of the items was a Zip-loc bag of doggie treats. This meant that every bag in which the bag of treats was placed into was left with the scent of doggie treat. It was not a pleasant scent.   And while we were walking around, she noticed a table of beautiful and functional scarves in the accessories department. She asked me to accompany her to the scarves.

Now understand, we can and are allowed to cross-sell between departments. And it’s cool but one of the workers in accessories is a commission shark. She is very territorial.  Like a rabid pit bull. She barks and bites if she feels that anyone is stepping into her den of accessories!

pitbull lady

I’ve been bitten by this Accessory Pit Bull Lady! Her bark is rather loud too!

So naturally, I was full of anxiety as I helped Small Handbag Lady pick out a scarf.  Accessory Pit Bull Lady must have been on a break, because as I rang the sale up, I didn’t hear barking!   Small Handbag Lady asked me my name, thanked me profusely for my time and said hopefully she will be back before her trip.

Quite honestly, I hope she comes back when I’m scheduled to work because I had a blast with her. It didn’t matter that she left without the bag she searched for. She was kind and nice and I understood her completely.  She refused to purchase a bag that she was not in love with. I get it!

My next prospect was, to say the least, an “are you kidding me” experience.  I spotted a young woman by the Tory Burch bags.  I walked up to her with the intent of asking if she needed assistance.

OK—let me explain something.  I’m great with understanding a heavy French accent, naturally, because of Bonaparte!  I’m also adept at an Irish brogue because it is the accent my grandparents and other family members speak with.  This runs true with Australian accents because of family living in Brisbane. 

I have a hard time understanding heavy Asian Accents, however.  After about ten seconds of speaking with this prospective customer, I realized she was a tourist.

Instead, before I had the chance to open my mouth, she asked me, in broken English and her heavy accent: “You herlp me?” 

It occurred to me after a minute that the “herlp” she wanted was not going to be a purchase. She pointed to her cell phone, which, I noticed her texting was not in English characters, but was in Chinese. I didn’t know what experience lay before me.

After pointing to her phone, she asked “You take pick-cha of me?”  With what turned out to be. Every. Single. Tory. Burch. Bag. In. the. Store.  For. Her. “Flen”. (friend).

And this wasn’t a quick snap. Oh no! She carefully planned out each pose and the way she was holding each bag.   In some pics she was holding two bags.  Her facial expressions ran the emoji gamut of surprise and happiness for bags she liked to sadness for the bags she did not care for!

facts_8 (1)

Oh yes.  This little tourist emoted every facial expression known to retail sales assistant while I snapped away like a female  Richard Avedon!

My emoji face went from happy “dah-rah” sign to anger.

MOney emoji

Another delusion. My retail ignorance led me to believe that my little tourist would actually PURCHASE something…..

Bad emoji

….leaving me in a state of THIS!

It gets better. When she realized that we were having a large percentage off on another designer brand, she grabbed wallets of every shape and size and not only arranged them on the counter for additional photography moments, but she requested that I figure out the price point of the unmarked discount. This entire process took approximately two hours!


This is an actual ad that Bonaparte’s grandfather, J.H. Lartigue did for Vuitton.  My tourist friend artfully arranged the wallets on the counter in similar fashion. Your’s truly got to take the photos. I am no J.H. Lartigue!

The end result was her “flen” (and I doubt there was one) back home didn’t like any of the items I photographed!


Really????  My time spent with someone who had no intent of purchasing while all my co-workers were cha-chinging it up!

All throughout my travels in France, Asian tourists had selfie sticks. How come my tourist shopper was a rebel without a selfie-stick cause who needed my less-than-stellar photo skills?

LWelcome to my paris

Seriously. Welcome to my world. On my trip to France last summer, I was bruised and attacked by selfie sticks gone wild. Where’s the selfie stick when you want it???

A returned bag was next.  The bag was purchased over 6 months ago and I was told it just “didn’t work”.  Why would someone purchase a bag that doesn’t work?  What the hell does that mean anyway?  The zipper was in fine order. The straps were intact. There was plenty of room in the handbags interior. How could it not work?

It doesn't work

I’ll tell you this woman was a pro at returning. She didn’t even think about telling me that the bag just “didn’t work”!

I was to find out moments later that “certain” customers are known for their fine reputation of being serial returners.   These customers will shop at least three times a week, load up on merchandise only to come back to the store to return. But they “save” their returns for months later—as if the sales assistants don’t notice.


Excuses for return

I”m quickly learning that the word “purchase” really means “rent”!

This kind of behavior is appalling to me.  If I return an item it is either because someone gifted me with an article of clothing that is not to my taste or it is because I didn’t have the time to try something on, got home and realized my thighs became too thunderous or my ass got too fat to wear the purchased item so I went back for a bigger size! 

It's going back

If I was “gifted” with one of these two get-ups, there would definitely be a return. But it would be returned neatly folded, unworn, and with a gift receipt! I would also be cowering and timidly apologizing!

 Perhaps it’s just that I am not a returner because I care too much of what others think of me and I don’t want to get a bad reputation.   Yeah. That’s right. Trampy sluts aren’t the only ones who get bad reputations.  Serial returners are in that same bad-girl grouping!

My day ended with a woman whom I’ve helped before. She’s nice but a bit unusual.  She came rushing to me to let me know that Macy’s gave her a discount on a bag that wasn’t supposed to be discounted. She went on to further explain to me that she knew manufacturers sent the same bag to every store but with “one-inch” differences in the straps and “half-inch” differences in the bag’s size.

Hey. Maybe she’s right! Maybe she isn’t.  But she’s nice. And she told me that she would be by to visit me next Sunday.   And I’m cool with that!


I do believe that the Macy’s customer was legit. She WILL come back to visit me next week. I hope she makes a purchase from me!

And Bonaparte is beyond cool too. He’s joyously happy because I told him that working retail has made me not want to shop anymore.  It’s true.  I don’t want to spend my days off running back to the mall.

Alright. So I made ONE purchase. A small crossbody bag. I need it for traveling and when I don’t want to carry the contents of our home with me!

I have a closet full of bags that I need to rotate.

I have heels that have gone unworn for a year and-a-half. And these shoes patiently wait the day of returning to working in an office. I hate to tell my heeled shoes that chances are I’ll never go back to office work again due to ageist corporate values.

Bag and shoes

My Vince Camuto heels will have to wait patiently until I find a “real” job. (I sound like an actor who is waiting tables until they find a “real” role). In the meantime, my red flats can be worn when I use my new red leather Longchamp bag!

Instead, I’ll focus on the good.  I get to exercise while working because I’m on my feet and can bend and stretch while dusting and rearranging merch!

The two managers I work for are encouraging and enthusiastic!  The people who are in my department are nice and helpful and fun.

And whether I help people who purchase or assist people who don’t—they help to make the time fly by and help me to better educate my people skills.

It’s all good!  Enjoy today.  I’m off to make a necessary purchase. Hair dye!  My roots are awful!

Hmmmm…retailing has brought back memories of this oldie. Handbags And Gladrags. Remember it? Chris Farlowe for you!

Talk to you tomorrow! XOXOXO!!


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Accessorizing, Beauty, careers, Fashion, humor, J. H. Lartigue, Retail Musings from the Dark Side and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Monday Musings. Retails From The Dark Side

  1. 😘😘😘😘 Catherine!!!! Happy Monday GF!!! I can’t even begin to tell you the last time I was in a mall!!!! Years 😳😱

    • Catherine says:

      LOL. Lynn. I just returned from Sally Beauty to get a purchase of my dye. I really REALLY should have gone into the supermarket as well but I didn’t even want to venture in….I’m chillin for the next three days! XOXOXO!!!

      • 😄😄
        Arrived home yesterday after a week up in Pa….today the pollen is kicking my ass….weather app hit the nail on the head when it said high pollen count in Chincoteague! 😷😷

      • Catherine says:

        Alright. Pun time. Does the pollen count mean that …… your….eyes……are…”Misty” of Chincoteague????????????????????? BWAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!! XOXOX!!!

      • 😂😂😂😂😂😂 I’d take the ‘Misty’ puffy eyes over this painful sinus s$$t!!!!’

  2. Happy Monday, Cathy!
    That LV pik, OMG….LV is my fav fav brand!

  3. Leslie Preston says:

    Very interesting and entertaining! I’m glad you’re looking at the positive sides to retail. Keep posting these stories. They’re great!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Leslie. Oh. I need to look at the positive side to retail or else I’ll be as cuckoo as the birds in the Swiss clocks! I have a feeling if I don’t get fired, I’ll have a ton of stories to tell! I’m reading a funny book right now. Retail Hell and it’s hysterically funny! XOXOXO!!!

  4. spearfruit says:

    Happy Monday Catherine! You have more guts than I do to do that job – I could not do it – the store would lose customers. As always your posts bring a smile to my face! 🙂

  5. Haylee says:

    I admire anyone working in retail – I’d hate to have to push sales, so I’m totally with you on that. Glad you’re enjoying I though.
    Hey, maybe that tourist was photographing everything so they could make replica ones back home. You could be an ‘accessory’, haha! 😉

    • Catherine says:

      LOL! Haylee. I could be an emoji! You could be correct though. Perhaps the tourist was really a Tory Burch spy and took the photos to make dupes!! Hmmmmmm…Now I’m thinkin……XOXOXO!!!

  6. mareymercy says:

    Danskos are great retail shoes…they make their standard ‘nurse’ style in a black patent leather that looks hella COOL. I once saw a saleswoman at the Chanel cosmetics counter with some on and they actually looked hip and stylish, so I went out and bought a pair. A little stiff at first but once they break in they’re great for the feet! I worked retail all through high school and college and have sold just about every article of clothing there is, so I have lots of customer stories too. 😉 People are interesting, that’s for sure. But usually the days flew by and I was never bored and there were always other salespeople around to chat with, so I always enjoyed it.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks marey for the encouragement! The time does go by faster than slower. And I’m going to have to check the Danskos out. If I could go barefoot through the store, I would be such a happy camper!! Oh girlfriend, I would LOVE to hear some of your customer stories too! XOXOXO!!!

  7. BunKaryudo says:

    I can definitely understand where you’re coming from when you say you don’t like getting caught up with the whole commission thing but would rather concentrate on selling products you believed in. I think from the customer’s point of view too, it’s uncomfortable always having to ask the question, “Does the sales assistant really think this suits me?” Anyway, at least you are getting to meet an interesting variety of people. 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bun. Oh, that’s why I probably rank in the “bitchy” customer category. I’m fine to always take the name of a s/a when I go shopping when they approach me so that I can make sure they get the commission. However, when they get all pushy, that’s when I politely tell them I know what works best for me. I know its kind of hypocritical–but that’s one of the things I despise about working on commission. At least I’m making a few bucks! XOXOXOXO!!

      • BunKaryudo says:

        I think you’ll be great at the job, Catherine! You know a lot about the subject, and you’re aware of the need to find the line between being helpfully informative and being pushy. 🙂

  8. calensariel says:

    I think you have the perfect personality for this job. But I can see how you absolutely would hate to sell something you don’t believe in. Thanks God it’s purses and not not makeup. Or do you get to sell that, too?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lady Calen. I would not even make an attempt to sell cosmetics to anyone in the store! A lot of super high-end product and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s the pushy cosmetics assistants that bug me. Don’t tell me a yellow-based foundation will work for me. I know what looks good on me. Here I go again! Hehehehehehe!! XOXOXO!!

  9. Margaret says:

    Oh I can really relate to the “serial returners.” I worked for Macy’s years ago and we had one who returned a nightgown that was 9 years old (yes, 9) because the hem started to rip. This woman would buy and return every single week, plus treated the sales help like dirt and made a big mess of the department while she was at it. That day I had enough of her and refused to process her return. She made a big fuss, annoyed the rest of the customers with her nonsense and had the manager called, who ended up doing the return but agreed with me afterwards. She got away with it one more time but we never saw her again (probably moved on to another store). Despite all that, I really enjoyed retail too and hope you have a blast at your new job. Have you tried Clark’s shoes? They’re very comfy and much more stylish than they used to be.

    • Catherine says:

      Margaret. Ugh! Nine years! The sick thing is that I can visualize it. I had a bag returned last week that looked like it had gone through decades of use. WTF???? I am having fun though. I gotta check out the Clark’s shoes–it’s all about the comfort these days! XOXOXOXO!!!

  10. It’s always good to get ‘insider’ knowledge about certain professions. I don’t think there is a job that doesn’t involve some sort of compromise.

  11. Hi Catherine, I’m a bit late in commenting as I’ve been away, but just love your description of what could be quite a tricky job as a sales assistant sounding such fun!!! Two things from my perspective as a Brit i) someone could return a purchase after SIX MONTHS. Gosh, they’d be sent away with a flea in their ear here, as there’s a definite time limit (approx 6 weeks) I mean, that’s a long time to decide ‘it doesn’t work’!! And ii) I’m not sure about this commission thing. It’s a hard life as a sales/shop/worker and the thing is, surely, you should be paid, end of. And that sadly is why we had trade unions – once. Ours were destroyed by that Maggie woman (who was riding along with the beginnings of Neo-Liberalism – she was very influenced by Milton Friedman) yours also I believe are not strong. But there’s a reason for them. And shop workers are hard done by, imho, if they have to work all day looking nice and being a representative of the whole department store yet earning nothing if they don’t get a sale – hmm. One day, sometime in the future, someone will say, I think a union might be a good idea!!! Love from the leftie (sometime I might explain that we call ‘liberals’ left-wing and I’m not mentioning the ‘socialist’ word) Penny xxxx

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Penny. Oh. Bonaparte is absolutely amazed at the return policy here in the states. He said in France NOBODY returns and when they do, watch out!!! I wish neo-liberalism here would put into effect laws that corporations MUST hire older people. I’m missing working in an office so much that it hurts. I went from over $24.00 an hour to poverty wages. Oh well. Speaking of which, I need to get ready for work! XOXOXOXO!!!

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