I worked retail for about four years starting at the end of high school and supporting myself through university. While I learned so many useful skills in the customer service field and all the tasks it takes to run a store, I also kept to myself many unsaid thoughts about retail and minimalism that I finally want to speak out about now.
I won’t name the place, but it was mainly a shoe retail store. And don’t get me wrong, I loved working there and still visit coworkers from time to time. The problem was with consumerism and how the retail industry is anti-minimalist in values. Of course I understand it is all about profit, profit, profit. For example, meet your sales quota, sign up customers for loyalty programs to keep them coming back, etc. But from years of experiences, I saw what it was doing to people. And it was not good all the time.
Our store always had promotions going on, one for every single holiday…even the “fake” holidays like Valentine’s Day. The thing is people thought they were getting a good deal, when in reality retail prices are raised so high so that a promotion won’t affect the discounted item much. Many times I felt bad for certain families that I knew barely had enough to buy their kids a pair of shoes from the clearance racks. I wanted to give them the best discounts I could, but of course company policies first.
Retail myths and more debunked (from my experience):
The more you buy the more you save? Not entirely true. If you truly need more pairs for your family, yes. But if you are just getting the extra pair for the discount and don’t really want it, then no…you still end up paying more money.
New and updated styles, so you need it? No. It is the same shoe, in a different shade or color with the same features. The season changed, so did our styles, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
But it’s 70% off…that’s a deal! Not if you didn’t need it before seeing the sale. It is 100% off if you don’t buy it in the first place.
Don’t even get me started on the waste consumerism causes with the plastic and packaging. I was happy that or store used mostly cardboard boxes and barely any plastic, besides the checkout bags. But sometimes I wish the grocery plastic bag fee in California also applied to retail stores, so people would bring their own reusable totes.
All in all, working retail has taught me more valuable life lessons than just a job skills set. I no longer buy anything full retail value. I will always look online for any coupons or wait for it to go on sale. If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. I have a list on my phone of what I came to the store for and stick to it, anything else goes back to the shelves. So I encourage and hope to inform my blog followers to be conscious about your purchases before you buy.
(Disclaimer: I am not completely anti-consumerism. I still enjoy shopping and get excited about it when I do go, but am now a “conscious and mindful” shopper after having seen what the industry is like from working in it.)