Retail Tales: My New Job

I think I might be a little crazy. I have somehow found myself with a part-time job in addition to my full-time 9-to-5. How does one accidentally start working 20 extra hours a week, you ask? A friend from November Project posted on our Facebook group that the running store she works for was looking for a few people to help out during the busy time before the NYC Marathon. I thought it was a volunteer type thing- help out at some events, get some store credit, no big deal. One of the managers asked me to come in to speak with him, and I didn’t think twice- they can’t have someone helping out that they haven’t met- what if I was a complete weirdo? I go in and I’m presented with W-9 forms. Uhm, OK- probably just procedural if they’re going to be paying me in any way. The following week I’m in the store for “training” and I’m being given a free shirt to wear, being told I now have a 50% discount on anything in the store, and oh yeah, I’m scheduled to work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Righttttt.

I’m equal parts loving and hating this addition to my life.

I’ve never worked in retail before so this is all really new to me, which makes it interesting and challenging. I’ve always assumed I would be an awful salesperson, but when I’m selling products that I am familiar with, love, and have some knowledge on, I’ve discovered that I’m actually not that bad at it!

Here are some things I have learned on the job.

Did you know that companies have spiff sales? This means that a sales associate can earn cash just for selling an item from a certain brand! Sell two sports bras and it's like you worked an extra hour that night! It’s kind of awesome. But also kind of makes me wary as a shopper! 

(Another fun fact, spiff comes from SPIF- Sales Performance Incentive Fund).

I love being surrounded by all the newest running apparel and products. For someone who can talk about running for hours, I definitely feel at home on the sales floor amongst the gels and hydration packs and foam rollers. That sounds weird. I am one with the foot rubz. King of the Kinvaras. Sneaker joke. OK. Moving on. 

(Me, one with the mannequins. Om!)

Not to mention that when I’m working the women’s section, I’m constantly browsing the racks for what I need to buy for myself. I’m justifying my eventual purchases by telling myself that new fall and winter running clothes will inspire me to run through the winter and successfully train for a possible spring marathon. Right? Right…(more on that inner struggle later).

(Do I buy this Under Armor ColdGear shirt?! Or is it too Halloweeny? It's got thumb holes and a zippered pocket in the back! I need opinions!)

(Brooks Run Happy tech shirt? Yeah, think I need that.)

Selling sneakers is hard though. People ask me a lot of questions and I have very few answers for them…this weekend after training I’m hoping to be a little more knowledgeable! But learning how to do a gait analysis is pretty awesome!

Not everything about retail is fun. Making sure every rack is organized by style, color and size is time consuming and when a costumer goes by and ruins all your hard work it’s slightly infuriating.

Some people are rude, like the man who told me to “go get him this and that.” No thank-yous, no pleases. 

It can be super awkward when you start asking someone how they’re doing, or what brings them into the store and all they give you is a blank stare or start talking in a different language. I’m not a fan of socially awkward situations, so this has taken some getting used to.

Some people are plain crazy, like the first woman I helped buy a pair of sneakers. She backed
up into a shoe sizer
 and freaked out. Like needed to sit down for 5 minutes before she could “continue the shoe buying process.” She needed a pair of shoes that were easy to clean. I’m pretty sure she had everything from OCD to social anxiety to hypochondria. Lucky me. Hey, I sold her a pair of sneakers! (And socks.)
(Did you know this has a name? It's a Brannock Device. Boom!)

SO MANY PEOPLE DECIDE TO COME INTO THE STORE 5 MINUTES BEFORE IT CLOSES! We are smiling and being helpful, but we really really don’t like you.

I’m used to a desk job, and standing and walking around the store for hours is more brutal than I ever imagined it would be. Luckily, I get to wear sneakers and comfortable clothes, otherwise, I think I would cry. But that’s another huge perk- my “uniform” is what I wish I could wear 24/7. And the best part? I can try on and wear whatever shoes I want around the store during my shift!

(Not saying I match impeccably but...I match impeccably) 

Picking out outfits for mannequins is fun, but dressing them is really difficult. Using folding boards is also more difficult than anticipated.

A 15 minute break is really, really short.

People ask awkward questions like, “Do you think I’m a Large or an Extra-Large?” Uhm, how do you say extra-large without sounding offensive?

Overall, it’s been a great new experience.  But working 20 hours in addition to my full time job is taking its toll.  I work the closing shift. The store closes at 9, and depending on what needs to be done and what manager is on duty, that often means leaving around or sometimes after 10 p.m. Getting home at 10:30. Cooking dinner. Eating dinner at 11 p.m. (because that’s a normal Manhattan dinner time, yes?) And then attempting to get to bed and up to work out before work most mornings. 

I love the people I work with. I love the connection to running. I love the extra cash. And I realllllly love the 50% off discount.

But I think I need to speak up and have my hours scaled back if I’m going to stay on the team at the store. Woof!