Retail Craziness and Chaos

Any of you ever work in retail? I’m sure you have. A lot of us have. And one of the things I dread about working in retail is sale day.

You see, I work at Value Village. Value Village is a used goods and clothing retail store that receives donations from the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Ontario Federation of Cerebral Palsy as well as the general public.

Before I started working there a little over a year and a half ago, I had only been in one Value Village store and it was only for about a minute because whoever I was with went in to try and find something for a costume. And all I thought at the time was that the store just sold used clothes. But now that I am an employee at one of the stores, I now know that they sell a lot more than just clothes:  furniture, electronics, sporting goods equipment, shoes, bed and bath accessories, books, jewellery, house wares, home décor and appliances make up the inventory. I also now know how crazy people are for Value Village merchandise – especially on sale day.

You wouldn’t think (or at least I wouldn’t and previously didn’t), that people would be scrambling on a sale day for a bunch of used stuff. I mean what’s the big deal? It’s not like it’s brand new. But, you’d be surprised.

The sale day that we just had this past Monday was similar in many ways to previous ones, but it sure didn’t start out the same.

About a minute after we had opened the store, the power went out all around us and the surrounding area.

At first, all the employees and customers stood around near the front of the store as per the store’s power policy.

Then after a little while, we got some flashlights and walked around the store with customers so that they could look at merchandise and not worry about running into things or other people. Now, since the cashiers were not operational due to the power failure, some customers picked what they wanted, put the items in a bag with their name on it and came back for the bag once the power came back on later, while others stuck around the store for a couple of hours until the power came back on.

Needless to say it was the slowest and easiest start to a sale day I have ever experienced. But, as soon as the power came back on, a whole bunch of people came in at once.

It got really busy really fast, and I ended up doing fitting room duty. People would try on a bunch of clothes then decide what they didn’t want, giving  a whole bunch back, and leaving me to organize the mess on the clothes rack for someone else to roll it back to the floor. This happened continuously during the rest of my shift and with the fitting rooms so backed up, at one point there were two of us in the fitting rooms and two people rolling the stuff back to the floor.

And let’s not forget the kids. Oh the kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I like kids. I do. But what I notice every sale day (like I did with this one), is that there are a fair bit of kids in the store that are crying and whining because they don’t want to be there or they are tired (and some should be in school anyway) or playing with really loud toys and won’t be quiet.

Overall, the day was crazy with its own brand of chaos thrown in for good measure.

Let’s just say the end of my shift on Monday couldn’t have come sooner.

So, if you work in retail and you’re having a sale day, try not to get too frustrated with customers and keep telling yourself just a few more minutes to go until the end of your shift. And, if you’re a shopper on sale day, please be patient and wait your turn in line.

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