Black Friday is almost here. And while you’re out sleeping overnight to save four or five dollars on a Blu-Ray of You’ve Got Mail, retail employees are brewing an extra pot of coffee, gathering their name tag and trudging to work hours early. I have worked a few different retail jobs in my time. I have worked at Macy’s and the department store, The Jones Store, that Macy’s bought. I have worked at a computer store and I have worked selling toys. I survived Black Fridays at all three establishments. Here are some things to know to minimize how miserable the trip through the throngs of people will be, for you and those working.
Know what you’re looking for
With the advent of the internet, the thousands of paper ads going out with your newspaper, and the fact that one would hope that you have a general idea of what to buy your loved ones this holiday season, there are almost no excuses for arriving with no clue of what to look for. It’s not that we, as retail employees, don’t want to help you find that perfect gift, we just have thousands of other people grabbing at our shirts, and their time is just as valuable as yours.
Have your payment method ready and confirmed
Paying cash? Great. There’s no need to wave it around like a flag in a parade, but have something near the amount handy. And by handy, I don’t mean at the bottom of your purse, under a gathering of used tissues. Are you paying by credit or debit card? Awesome. It’s always a good idea to contact your credit card company beforehand, especially if the purchase is a large amount, or something the credit card company would deem as a “flagged” or “unusual” purchase. I’ve had many, many customers spend hours on the phone with Visa or Mastercard because their card was declined while purchasing a computer, despite having the funds. I’m sure your excuse for why your card won’t go through is nice and valid, but if I had the ability to adjust your credit, I wouldn’t be behind this register for a living.
If we say we don’t have the item in stock, we don’t have the item in stock. Retailers, especially around the holidays, have nearly militaristic communication techniques, and there’s no need exerting energy to argue about something that isn’t in stock.
If you’re looking for deals or tips or some sort of discount, I wish you the best of luck. Most retail employees have little to no leeway on prices. The kid working at FAO Schwartz isn’t named Eric Schwartz (ok he might actually be, but that’s just a coincidence) and he can’t get you everything for free, despite the fact that you waited “so long outside, and it’s so cold.” As I worked in retail, I would occasionally be given a coupon / small ability to help out a customer, and every time, I would use it to help the people who took a moment to acknowledge me as a human, or even just smiled.
And finally, just try to be kind
The littlest bit goes a long way. We know you’ve been here a long time, and it’s crowded, and your kid is crying (Oh and a quick tip I forgot: leave your kid at home. No quicker way to make enemies at a retail store than a crying baby); But try and remember that we have probably been here for hours, too, and will be here hours after you leave. On top of all of that, it’s highly unlikely that we are making enough money to even buy whatever toy / computer / TV / novelty item that is sold where we work.
Kyle also horrified you by digging up The Murky History of the Hot Dog.