*I don’t completely hate working in retail it just stinks sometimes but really, I have learned some helpful things. This is my own opinion and perspective (and should be viewed as somewhat humorous).
Things I’ve learned from working at J.Crew:
1. How to fold clothes.
Of course once you are thrust into the world of college, learning to do your own laundry is a given. But the menial task of folding clothes and simply, folding things the right way is something I never quite mastered (ask my mom). From my daily encounters folding a billion Perfect Fit Tees, Jackie Cardigans, Matchstick Denim Jeans, and Perfect Shirts per minute, I can now say that I have walked away with hands that automatically fold the “J.Crew Way” and can demonstrate the various ways button-up shirts can be folded, how to make a flower out of a sweater sleeve, and the 3 different ways pants can be folded or hung. Not only has this skill increased my productivity level while on the clock, it has allowed my own home closet to be more organized and space-efficient. Woo!
2. Always, ALWAYS wash the clothes you buy before you actually wear it.
Do you know how many people actually tried on that shirt you just bought? Do you really? Because I do. Approximately 25. But really, after working in the various areas of my J.Crew store, whether it be on the sales floor, in the fitting room, or at the cash register, I constantly witness the odious life cycle of popular J.Crew clothing articles. I don’t care if you are a size XS or XL or if it really looks like a fresh shirt on the top of the pile, you never know how many people (and smelly people at that) have tried on that exact shirt, smutted around in it in front of our mirrors, then discarded back onto our racks. Some have purchased it, wore it at home, then decided to return it to us. Many a smelly person has entered the depths of our fitting rooms and left their marks (literally) on our clothes with me, the unfortunate sales associate who can’t say a nasty word about those clothes to fold and “freshen” those piles.
3. Don’t be a total bitch to sales associates.
I know you think you’re all powerful and cool and happy to be shopping in our store and you’re the one with dough to burn in your wallet and that’s all fine and groovy but listen, there are actual human beings who work at this institution. Surprised? Yes, human beings who might not actually want to stand around all day folding clothes or telling you that you look nice on their own free will but because they NEED A JOB. Still surprised? Well consider this, these sales associates make less than $10 bucks an hour and for what, to deal with one too many extremely rude people who think we are paid as much as that cashmere cardigan costs to beckon your every need. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to throw things around the house or leave your toys all over the furniture? Why should it be any different? If you see things are hung or folded in one area, don’t take something from the front of the store and decide it’s okay if it goes all the way in the back of the store in the children’s area. Don’t blame me if we don’t have a pair of pants in stock or that the items you want to return were purchases over 30 days ago (this does not equal over 3 months) and we can’t give you your money back. Here’s some advice: remember when you buy the damn item and return it in time or not. It’s simple. Don’t act like I can change store policies or rules just because you want me too. I can’t even change the fact that I get only 2 dollars more than minimum wage for my salary. You want me to change the store’s return policy, store name, products, sizes, styles, and models for you? I’ll work on that. In the meantime, take the time to be patient, kind and respectful of the people who actually have a job trying to make ends meet and have to deal with the oh-so pleasant retail world. Thanks.
4. Employee discounts actually kind of suck.
Yes, we do get pretty sweet employee discounts (30-60%) but am I really able to afford that skirt even if it is 60% off when I make less than that in one day? I’m pretty sure the companies do this on purpose because what better way to make employees think they’re making money from the company when they’re actually just giving it right back by purchasing all the so called discounts. And everything changes monthly so it is extremely tempting to think you really DO need that sweater before anyone else. Brilliant.
5. Selling yourself and your soul is a good way to sell clothes and maybe if you’re lucky a J.Crew card.
Rewards and recognition get dangled in front of our faces if we’re good sales associates and sell at least 3 items per customer and even more if we sign up customers for J.Crew cards. It takes a lot of influencing and sucking up but I’ve learned how to be a good saleswoman. Play along with the customer, advise them of clothes that would look “so cute” on them and that are good deals “so you might as well buy 3 of them” anyway. Be a customer’s best friend or better yet, “girlfriend” who can’t get enough of how good you look in those J.Crew jeans….
6. A way to knot scarves that save you so much space.
I’ve learned an awesome method of folding scarves: fold the scarf in half, use both hands to twist ends so scarf is curled, fold in half again and voila! A neat, little scarf knot:
7. J.Crew is actually a really nice company to work for. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how nice the managers are and how corporate really cares about the store and the people in it and care to let us know what is going on with the company.