As a fashion major and college student, I thought it would be wise to find a part-time job that spoke to my interests in retail. Plus, I like people and am pretty good at folding, if I do say so myself. This seemed like the best idea I have ever had. So I scored a job as a sales associate at a popular national clothing chain. When I accepted my position a year ago, it never dawned on me that there could be any flaws.
But sure enough, the retail industry does come with it’s flaws, including floor sets, angry customers and Black Friday just to name a few.
If you have an Internet connection (or a pulse) you know exactly what Black Friday is and all the physical madness, hysteria and YouTube videos that result from the biggest shopping day of the year. It answers one of life’s biggest questions: What will people do for 70% off a big screen TV? (Answer: a lot.)
But the shoppers are only one side of the equation. There are the sales associates who also wake up at the crack of down to delve out the discounts to the masses. As a consumer of Black Friday I’ve never realized how much work goes behind the scenes of the biggest shopping day in the U.S. Is there really much an associate can do when floods of people are overtaking their store? I decided to find the answer by working Black Friday. (Spoiler alert: I lived to tell about it).
To give you a little background I worked the 9 pm-6 am shift Thursday and returned Friday for a 3 pm—1 am shift. (Yes, you read those times correctly.) I survived the weekend on the multiple Venti coffees I downed from Starbucks. However, even a few days later, I admit I’m still catching up on sleep.
Ultimately Black Friday wasn’t as scary as I expected. Yes, there was a line of people standing outside our gate. Yes, they ran through the entrance in a rather cliché manner the second the store opened up. (Did I mention that the store is located at an outlet mall? Discounts on discounts; people were revved up.) I’m sure super centers like Target and Wal-Mart were far worse. Luckily, no one was camping outside our store.
Luckily I did not witness any arguments or injuries. Instead just cranky people looking for a good deal. However, these grumpy people turned out to get more irritable once they realized our “Black Friday deals” were a week long; meaning they could have skipped the line, enjoyed leftovers at home and came any other weekday. (Side note: is Black Friday becoming a week long event? I certainly hope not.)
The hardest part of Black Friday was the go backs. After the day had ended, we had piles and piles and piles (and piles) of clothes that had to be sorted and put back on the sales floor. It seemed like it was never ending. So. Much. Folding.
As a survivor of the Black Friday retail side, I’m here to tell you fellow sales associates: you can make it. The holiday season is long, don’t let the exhaustion set in now. Dear consumers, please be friendly, kind and put clothes back, it makes our lives just a little easier. And a reminder sometimes the deals aren’t worth it.