Ah…the smell of cheap, fruity perfume mixed with musky cologne and a hint of coffee wafting from the mug you’ve stashed under the cash register. What, something’s got to get you through that opening shift! If anything I’ve described here makes you even slightly nostalgic, then you’ve worked in a teen retailer. Everyone’s got a different opinion of retail, but it takes a special place in your heart when you’ve actually worked in one. Yes, it could be tedious and downright annoying at times, but there were a lot of benefits to it, too! Who else had a giant, cute wardrobe at a discounted price that didn’t break the bank? No one! And while we definitely lament our lack of a discount now, it was fun while it lasted. And you’ve got a welcome smile that could empty a person’s wallet in seconds. But what are some other signs you worked at one of the teen retailers? Besides the bottles of cheap perfume you shamefully have pushed to the back of your closet…
1. Most of your wardrobe is from the retailer where you worked
Because when you have an amazing discount, why not buy everything you want?! You were basically a walking advertisement for them, and probably wore at least one item of clothing from your store every day. And what’s wrong with that? You couldn’t help that you had an amazing job that practically paid you to shop!
2. You have an amazing eye to tell where someone buys their clothes
Even just the design on the jean pocket was enough for you to tell exactly where someone bought them from. You can also probably admit to shamelessly complimenting someone on their outfit and asking them where they bought something so cute just to confirm your amazing knowledge of knowing exactly where someone shops. If you got it, flaunt it!
3. The smell of cheap perfume still makes you gag from memories of spraying it everywhere
I mean it totally made sense to spray the company’s best-selling perfume all over the clothes to attract more people into buying it, I guess. But was it really necessary that you drown the entire store in it? Some places would even go as far as to putting it in the air vents. And when you have to breathe that So Cal scent in for hours? Gag. A gas mask would’ve come in handy.
4. You catch yourself still giving that cheesy “welcome smile”
We’ve all done it, and we also all know how much it starts to hurt your face after a few hours. There were so many times that smile covered up the internal screaming when dealing with a difficult customer or coworker, but hey, showing off those pearly whites at least got you a lot of sales, right?
5. Every time it’s laundry day, you spend hours folding clothes perfectly
Whenever that time rolls around, you groan in annoyance, but you also secretly enjoy the meticulous folds that used to take up hours of your time. There’s a certain way to fold a tee shirt, and it’s totally different form how a camisole should be folded. And don’t even think about folding those jeans less than four times. Everything needs to properly tucked, even if it’s just going to sit your dresser drawer.
6. Walking into a messy clothing store gives you anxiety
Instant sweaty palms and hyperventilating. Just looking at the messy piles of clothing that will have to be refolded will haunt your nightmares later. You feel so bad for the associates that will have to clean that mess up because you know how long it takes to make it look decent again. You might even walk by and fold one or two for them. But even you know you can’t save them from the hours of work they’ll have to spend refolding (sigh).
7. Messing up conversion still terrifies you
It’s a real fear, and walking under the blinking light every time you open the door of a store makes you cringe. You can practically feel the conversion dropping with every step you take. After having placed conversion on the highest pedestal for so long, it is always on your mind when shopping. Why? Because when conversion drops, the panic that ensues to bring it back up still freaks you out. And you don’t even think about walking out of a store empty handed, the burden of bringing their numbers down is too much to bear.
8. You swear sometimes you can smell the strong cologne on your clothes
Digging up the old wardrobe from our retail days brings up lot of sweet memories and some not so sweet scents. What do they put in that cologne that gives it the ability to cling to clothes after so long? The world may never know…
9. The Top 50 playlist is your worst nightmare
Under any other circumstances, Top 50 is good music. But when the store insists on playing the same mainstream music over and over again on repeat? You’d rather listen to Mozart than Katy Perry for the next five hours. C’mon, they couldn’t give us any variety?
10. The words “Black Friday” make you break into a sweat
Black Friday. Yep, I said it, and you’re probably shuddering in horror at the thought. Midnight opening hours, heaps of clothes thrown all over the places, hordes of people demanding to get exactly what they want, even if it means yelling at every manager they can find. And the coffee. All the coffee. You had to try to stay alert during of the middle of the night somehow! Take a deep breath, and remember you never have to work it again. The nightmare’s over.
11. You can spot shoplifting from a mile away
Yep, those sneaky little pre-teens might have gotten away with it at first, but as time went on, you developed a nose for theft. Shoplifters beware! More stolen merchandise meant less money in your paycheck, and no customer was about to take those precious dollars away from you. Sometimes you still find yourself following a suspicious person or two around the store you’re shopping at, but unfortunately, you can’t take the joy of throwing them out like you used to.
12. The resentment for other competition stores was REAL
Nope, don’t even mention their name. Anyone who worked in the teen retail world knows that there is a certain hate for your competitors, especially amongst the big ones. You wouldn’t be caught dead with a competitor’s logo on your clothing, or you might as well not even show up to work.
13. Paying full price at any clothing store makes you miss your discount
Full price. Two words all former retail workers hate to hear, because you simply aren’t used to paying it. The reason your closet was so big was because you could use your discounts as recklessly as you wanted! Sigh. It’s over now, and so are the days of having so many clothes that you would have to shove your closet doors shut just to fit it all in. At least your bank account is saved! Your minimalistic wardrobe, not so much.
14. You know the customer isn’t always right
Contrary to everything your company would tell you about customer service policies, you know that this one is so true. Yes, sometimes someone did genuinely mess up and the customer deserved to be a little angry. But also, there were those customers that yelled, cussed, and were just plain rude for no reason. If they only knew the words you hid behind that cheesy customer service smile.
15. Your ability to get others to spend their money is your superpower
Thanks to your charming smile and amazing customer service skills, this came easily to you. It was fun to set sales goals as a challenge because it meant trying a little harder to be the smooth talker they taught you to be. Who doesn’t love that? Aside from the pride it brought, you were also able to build some amazing relationships with returning customers, and honestly, is there a better feeling than that?
16. Even hearing “floorset” has you running in the opposite direction
It didn’t matter how many extra hours you could be promised in exchange for setting up the new floorset, nothing could persuade you. Hours spent censoring, folding, and setting up new stands? No thanks. You were much more comfortable with strolling into work after it was all done to see what you wanted to buy next after everything is all set up.
17. Sales competitions in the store gave you trust issues
Everyone is all friends until there’s a sales competition set in front of you. And when there’s a prize involved? Forget respect; you were out for blood. This was a chance to show off your best smile and selling skills to get your moment in the sun. Dirty looks were exchanged, sales were stolen, and maybe a tear or two was shed. But in the end, it taught you determination, no matter how many elbows you had to throw to learn it.
18. You clean up after yourself every time you go shopping
Retail guilt is a very real thing, and it happens every time you go into a store and leave a shirt unfolded, a fitting room unemptied, etc. You try your best to make sure the store is nice when you came in as when you left it. Because the last thing you’d ever want to do is be that customer.
19. You have flashbacks of holiday sales
Walking into a store packed with customers before you even start your shift. Long nights spent preparing promos long past closing. The same ten holiday songs playing over and over again while you try and keep the line that reaches almost out the door moving quickly before you get yelled at by customers. Feeling overwhelmed yet? It’s ok, these scary holiday sales can’t overwork you anymore. They do, however, frequent your nightmares every holiday season, no matter how long it’s been since you actually worked one.
20. You wouldn’t trade the experience for all the graphic tees in the world
Even though not everything about retail was all sunshine and daises, you still won’t change a thing about getting to work in such a cool job. You were able to stay up on the latest fashions, buy as many clothes as you wanted (without totally killing your wallet), and learned some very valuable skills! And you could probably win a folding competition any day. It gave you some great memories, and you get nostalgic every time you walk by a store that faintly reeks of that special cologne. It almost makes you want to go back… actually, on second thought, the memories are enough. You’ll stick to being able to actually breathe at work.
What are some other signs you’ve worked at a teen retailer? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo: cnbc.com
Grand State University '20. Journalism Major. CLE - CHI - GR.