*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.
I’ve been frequenting my local public library since I figure it’s the one true form of free entertainment left in America. I’m probably the only one my age in this town who goes to the library anymore or who still remembers where they’ve kept their library card all these years (mine is always in my wallet). Even though i’ve been confused as a high school (I guess I always will) a few times and I probably could play the role, I think it’s pretty smart to utilize all the free books and movies that pretty much just sits around my town’s library since everyone else is too caught up in consumerism to understand the words “free” and “borrowing”. Ok, so not your typical Halloween flicks but here are the movies I recently rented:
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! What better way to get into the Halloween spirit than this classic Charlie Brown flick. My favorite part is when the kids go trick or treating and all the kids reveal the great candy they’ve collected while Charlie Brown keeps getting a rock. classic fail.
Love & Other Drugs I remember I was dying to see this movie back when it was in theaters (mainly so I could see if it really was a clone of my fav “No Strings Attached” but I never did get around to it. After watching the DVD i’m glad I didn’t pay that $14 ticket price, because this movie was pretty awful. And long.
Annie Hall Classic Woody Allen film which I’d been meaning to see. Now I know why generations have raved about this movie. Diane Keaton was amazing and Allen was hilarious. I would love to steal all of Annie Hall’s outfits from this film.
Funny Face Watched it with my friends in college and remembered that I hated it (probably the first Audrey Hepburn movie I hadn’t liked) so I wanted to give it another try. Never got around to it but I’ll watch it sometime again!
Whip It I loved this movie! Small town girl bored with her life, wanting to do something big and make something of herself….it was funny, heartbreaking and inspiring. The acting is absolutely memorable. I’d recommend this!
Living on a part-time sales associate salary means that I’m having to skimp on lots of things like food, clothes, entertainment, etc to make my weekly paychecks really count. Being smart about purchases, services and acting thrifty whenever I can are good skills I’ve sharpened over the past few months.
1. Free movie Tuesdays. My town’s leading cable and internet provider, Optimum Online provides a reward program for households that subscribe to all 3 of their services (phone, internet, cable tv). This program includes a rewards card that entitles subscribers to 2 free movie tickets to local cinemas every Tuesday. Thanks to this thrifty program, I’ve seen a new movie every week without spending a dime! (aka $14/ticket)
2. Baking homemade bread. Our house has decided to swap spending extra dough for baking our own dough (harhar). All we did was dust off our old electronic bread machine, buy some yeast packets (quite inexpensive), whip up some dough, and let the magic of the bread machine produce a fresh, deliciously yummy loaf of bread. What’s even more delicious is the small savings we’ve made on purchasing bread from the supermarket and the varieties of bread we’ve made.
3. Free food (or close to it) using sites like ScoutMob.com or Groupon. I recently signed up to the free coupon site called, ScoutMob which finds local restaurants and food vendors with discounts and coupons in many US cities. The great thing about ScoutMob is that receiving the coupons/discounts are free (unlike Groupon where you need to pay) and they can be used instantly using the ScoutMob app on a mobile phone. When visiting my boyfriend in DC recently, we found a deal on ScoutMob for a free (yes, FREE) slice of pizza at a local pizza store. And so, we each showed our coupons at the restaurant and each received a delicious jumbo slice of pizza (it was bigger than the size of my head)! Can you say, free lunch? Yup.
4. Digging into the depths of my own closet. I never realized how much clothes I had that I have never worn before I slowly started cleaning and inventorying my closet. Sometimes saving/keeping clothes is worth it, there are so many articles of clothing that I already have that are back in style now or I can find ways to wear them appropriately for the upcoming season. A family friend also gave me a closet-full of her old work clothes and suits during the summer which I hardly looked through because I was trying not to think about fall clothes or getting a job. After looking through the goods recently, I’ve found so many great pieces I can start wearing as the weather turns chillier, most of them from top designers and already dry-cleaned or barely worn. Having generous friends is blessing to post-grads!
5. Eliminating splurging from my life. Not that I previously splurged incessantly before, but since I was only in school and not really thinking about money or my savings, I never really thought twice about shopping every single week or buying things I liked as soon as I saw them. Nowadays, I’ve learned to really think through my purchases and remember all the things I already have at home. Limiting the money I spend going out for lunch, coffee, dessert, and instead cooking my lunches for work, making my own tea/coffee, etc are helpful penny pinchers. Learning to repurpose, reuse, and re-style my possessions has been a key lesson here. Weighing out my spending priorities and the value of my purchases have helped curb my spending habits as well.
Think I’m going crazy? Me too. But I’m still hoping, still praying a good job will find my way soon. I know it will.
Photo source: James Maher Photography
Me: Hi, I just received an email saying that I need to update my graduation status and employment information in order to update my credit.
Lady from credit card company: Ok, great! So have you graduated from school yet?
Lady from credit card company: And when did you graduate?
Me: In May.
Lady from credit card company: Well, congratulations!!
Lady from credit card company: And are you currently employed?
Me: Um, yes…a part-time retail job.
Lady from credit card company: And how much is your salary?
Me: Uhhh….I don’t know….
Lady from credit card company: Well, do you have an estimate?
Me: ….um…no, not really…i…um…well…
Lady from credit card company: ….Ok well how about you call back when you have a better idea and you can update it then! Ok?
Me: oh. right. ok thanks.
my last day of being 21 years old and guess how i spent it? training for my new part-time retail job. whoopee! i’m actually feeling very blessed and grateful that I’ve gotten a part-time job (meaning a somewhat regular, though minimal, paycheck) and a virtual internship which will give me good experience and time to still be searching for full-time jobs. I’m excited to meet new people, broaden my retail skills, and keep my career horizons open. I feel optimistic as each day begins and confident that my life can only go up from here as long as i keep making the effort.
tomorrow i turn 22 and although 21 was a great number, i guess i can only hope for just as much joy and contentment that being 21 gave me.
here’s to the post grad grind.
I’m trying to be more positive everyday and I think it’s working. Some opportunities have creeped in slowly and I’m grateful things are picking up.
I don’t know why I’ve been watching old 90s tv shows about high school and teenagers but I’ve been watching episodes of my old favorites, “My So-Called Life” and “Freaks and Geeks” whenever I can. There’s something about summer time that makes me feel nostalgic for high school, or now, school in general but after watching these shows as an recent college grad and self-proclaimed “real” non-student, I’ve been noticing so many things I never had before. The themes of these shows were so real, relatable, and even educational in so many ways that teenage shows nowadays can never be. It is sad how shows today are not as deep as T.V. used to be in the 80s or 90s. Maybe I’m at the stage in my life again where I’m feeling depressed or down on a regular basis, maybe I’m feeling like a overly emotional high schooler again. Either way, I feel as though I can still relate to these shows and that they are even giving me some words of wisdom, as weird as that may sound…
In the the Pilot episode of the “Freaks and Geeks”, the main character, Lindsey (Linda Cardellini) is your average high school teenager who decides to change her attitude, friends, and her school life after her grandmother dies. When Lindsey is forced by her father to go to the homecoming dance, she is extremely upset and annoyed, feeling as though she is experiencing the worst possible punishment in her post-pubescent life. Her guidance counselor, the calm, long haired, hippie-esque, Mr. Ross sheds some light on the situation when approaching Lindsey at the dance, ”If the worst thing in your life is somebody making you go to a dance, then I’d say you have a pretty good life.”
Mr. Ross’s words not only comment on Lindsey situation but seems to permeate to life in general. For me, all the little things I’ve experienced and worried about don’t seem so bad. So what if I still don’t have a solid job or a regular paycheck? Never again will I have this much free time to reflect on my interests, learn more about careers, spend time with family and friends, travel, or pick up hobbies like playing the guitar or dance. Never again will I have a life without a 9 to 5 job or adult responsibilities like paying rent or commuting to work. My opportunities are endless right now even if it seems like there is nothing in the here and now.
I’m beginning to realize that even if I’m forced to reconcile that I now must live a post-grad life, it’s still a pretty good life to be living.