2020 · January

Can You Hear Me?

*Enters slowly carrying a box*

Oh Lord, is that a soapbox?

*Steps up to the mic, taps it*

“Is this thing on? Can you hear me?”

Today, I’m going to talk to you about a rather touchy subject. A subject that encompasses nearly every human on the planet, there are exceptions I’m sure, but I’m not going to talk about them right now. Today we are going to talk about retail and it’s employees. Every day, employees who work retail, open the doors of stores across the country and around the world. They give you, the consumer, the opportunity to purchase things you need, want, or even don’t need or want. Suppliers ship all sorts of items for your purchasing pleasure and the retail employee ensures it is available to you, the consumer.

Day in and day out these employees, clean, stock, price, scan, and provide customer service to you, and more often than not, do it willingly and with a smile. There are times when they have an ‘off’ day and can be a bit grumpy, but they show up and do their job nonetheless.

You, the consumer, walk through the doors of the establishment, grab a buggy, a shopping basket, or think you are an octopus and try to carry everything you pick up. Somewhere along your journey, your rational brain kicks in and decides you don’t need to purchase all of this stuff you’re toting around. So you begin purging items from your arms. You don’t simply put them back from whence they came, no, you lay them willy nilly all over the store.

There are several types of willy nilly’s walking through retail establishments hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Let’s meet them.

The Shelf-ers

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

This shopper, comes into the store, sometimes with a specific item(s) in mind. They typically aren’t browsers. They come in to pick up what they need but quickly become distracted by something they forgot they needed or wanted and so begin collecting items in their buggy or basket. Somewhere along the way, they remember why they are actually in the store and begin talking themselves out of items they don’t really have to have right now.

OH LOOK, an empty shelf, I’ll just put this here.

I don’t need this, I’ll just lay it on top of this candy rack.

I don’t want to buy this right now, I’ll just tuck it away behind this box of cereal.

I can get this another time, I’ll just drop it right here.

I’m at the register and don’t really want this, I’ll just plop it right here on top of the gum.

The Freezer/ Cooler Snatchers

Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash

This shopper is in need of food. They pop in the store and head directly to the freezer/fridge aisle. The selection is pretty good and so it begins, opening doors, grabbing a bag of frozen this, a box of quick heat that and before they know it, their arms are full and now they need a buggy or a basket. They carry their treasures to the front of the store, grab a basket and head back to the arctic aisle. They now have a basket or buggy full of delicious frozen and refrigerated delectables and head toward the registers. Somewhere between the frigid aisle and the land of cash, they begin thinking…

I don’t really need this ice cream bar, I’ll plop it right here in the tool section.

I don’t really have to have milk today, I’ll leave it on this book rack.

Oh no, this lasagna takes an hour to heat up, I don’t have that long. I’ll lay it here next to the laundry detergents.

Do I really want this ice cold pop? No. I’ll just put it here in the makeup aisle.

The Basket Dumpers

Photo by Марьян Блан | @marjanblan on Unsplash

These shoppers tend to be browsers. They don’t really need or want anything specific. They come in because they’re bored or just want something to do. They grab a basket or a buggy, you know, just in case, and commence walking every aisle. Up one aisle, down the next, looking and touching and putting things they like in their baskets or buggy. They put general merchandise, groceries, frozen, refrigerator, and whatever else catches their eye, in the basket or buggy. However, something in their brain snaps and suddenly they decide shopping really isn’t for them today and they need none of the items they put in the item catcher.

I don’t really need to be doing any shopping today. They stop, look around, and simply walk out the front door. The buggy or basket is now fully loaded and has been abandoned.

The Sneekers

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

These are the shoppers who look like almost every other shopper, but they have secrets. They like a challenge. A dare. A thrill. They like a distraction. Rarely are they alone. They like to shop in groups of three or more. They pop in, typically head for the small but accessible items such as earbuds, candy, or health and beauty items. You know, the things that fit easily in the palm of a hand or snuggles into the depth of a pocket. Yet, they don’t stop at keeping it hidden, oh no, they want you to know they’ve helped themselves.

Let’s throw this empty packaging right here on the floor so it can be seen.

This empty candy wrapper looks nice right here on the edge of the bathroom sink.

The box for the earbuds should sit right here on the edge of this cracker box.

Ok, so maybe we should hide a couple of empties here behind the rolls of gift wrap or in this display of stuffed animals.

By now, I’m sure you’re wondering where I am going with all of these introductions. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear one main theme among all of the shoppers I’ve introduced. Before I clue you in on the reoccurring theme I need to tell you…

Retail employees work their asses off to ensure the places you shop are fully stocked, cleaned, organized and an overall positive experience for you. They often spend a good majority of their shift straightening and doing what some places call recovery. They walk every aisle looking for out of place merchandise and then they spend time putting that merchandise back in its proper place. Is this always effective? Sometimes the answer is no. The short and the long if it is, retail employees do the best they can with what they are given but the fact is, the customer always outnumbers the staff.

I’m sure by now, if you haven’t already connected the dots, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what the common theme is. Wait no longer. The common theme is,

Shoppers leave merchandise all over the store.

Now, retail employees don’t come to your place of business and pick things up just to lay them down elsewhere. They don’t stop by your office and pick up your pens and leave them lying in the bathroom. They don’t come into your homes and grab a bite to eat out of your fridge or freezer and then leave it lay on your sofa to defrost and melt, and yet, somehow, many don’t even think twice about doing these sorts of things in a retail establishment.

Some of you may say, “Well it’s job security.” Bullshit! Retail employees’ jobs are secure without needing to go around picking up all the shit you didn’t want and were too lazy to at least attempt to put back where you picked it up from. The retail employee’s job is not contingent on acting like every customer’s mother and picking up after them.

Imagine all the things retail employees could accomplish if they weren’t spending so much time putting back the things you misplaced for them.

Imagine how much cleaner the establishment would be if you simply took the time to put back the items you didn’t want or, here’s a novel idea, gave them to a staff member or even the cashier. They don’t mind, really. They would much rather have you hand it to them than have to find it later when they are trying to do other tasks.

In what world does it make sense to pick things up with the intent to purchase them, change your mind, and simply pile them up where they don’t belong? Is this how some of you live? Do things in your home not have specific places? Does your frozen and refrigerated items not need to stay cold or frozen and therefore can be left out at room temperature? Would it make you angry to lose the hard-earned money you spent on those items? Well, retailers are losing money hand- over- foot from theft and lost merchandise from items, especially frozen or refrigerated, which are simply not making it to the cash registers.

Retail employees know you don’t work there. They get it. It’s their job. The truth of the matter is, there are more of you than there are of them and it more than doubles their workload when you’re too lazy to do the right thing. That’s what this comes down to, do the right thing, or are you one of those who don’t put their cart in the cart corral either?

*steps off soapbox, backs away from the mic, and silently leaves the room carrying the box so she can put it back where it belongs*

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