Here Are 4 Important Lessons I've Learned Working Retail

Retail. It’s the modern day Hell. From the customers, to the drama and management- retail can really suck the soul out of you. Most of us don’t realize we have choices. We can either choose to stay in a toxic environment or walk away.

By: Jason Suerte Felipe

Easier said than done. Especially when we have bills to pay and student loans to pay off. Don’t get me wrong- retail is easy money. But at the end of the day, is it really worth it? 

Check out a horror retail story here.

One time, I had a customer notice my ethnicity and he happily shared his perception that Filipinos have strong core values- family and everything else before work. And that got me thinking- it was the complete opposite for me. I realized retail had consumed the entirety of my year. Not really having much time for family, friends and alone time. I lost interest and energy for creative pursuits and to me, that was watching myself die.

A bit dramatic, but true. I invested so much time for the company- hours upon hours- that I stopped finding the time for myself. 

So I quit. Now, I totally understand not having the opportunity to leave a retail job. As we mentioned, we have debts to pay. But to me: if you are in a place where respect is not reciprocated, there is no reason for you to be there. 

Untitled designWorking retail was an experience and it was not all bad and ugly. You do get a chance to meet and work with some wonderful people. If you’re like me, you thrive in a team environment and those are the people you want on your team. And if and when the time comes, they’ll be happy to see you go.

It’s been one hell of a year working retail and within the year came a few lessons. Of course you learn the obvious like time management and communication skills. But there are some things people don’t tell you. 

Here Are 4 Lessons You’ll Learn Working Retail

  1. Don’t take things too seriously. There will be moments you get monster customers. I found myself carrying home all this anger and frustration. I realized that doing so is just letting them win. It’s good to remember a quote one of my managers taught me: Leave the work bullshit at work. So simple yet so satisfying. You are not responsible for the lives and bitterness of your customers. Once they are out those doors, they are out of your life. So why bother? You provided exceptional customer service- the customer’s anger is with themselves, not you.
  2. Prepare for Injustices. Every now and then you will stumble upon a manager that unfortunately favors the customers over their employees- even when the employee is right. It’s frustrating to see a when a manager does not have your back and in times like these, just remember it’s not hurting you- it’s hurting the company. A bit harsh but true. And if you are dissatisfied with how a manager or customer handled something, you can talk to another. There is always a way to voice your concerns and know that you are in the right.
  3. Exercise the power of “NO.” Although it is sometimes great to be a Yes-Man, you have to learn when to say no. If you get mistreated, you have every right to refuse service and Pass the Buck. 
  4. You and you alone have the right to leave. I felt stuck working my retail job and I didn’t find any growth or development, so I made the sole decision to leave. Easier said than done. But consider your well-being and know that there are plenty of opportunities out there. You just have to keep looking. And if you need to stay in that job before you find the next- that’s okay!

Those are just a few lessons I learned working retail for a year and I’m sure more will come to mind. Working retail is one hell of an experience and you come in with certain skills and leave with life lessons. Everyone should work retail at least for a year so they understand basic human interaction and decency. 

But that’s just me.

Do you work retail? Share with us your retail stories and lessons in the comments!

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