24 September 2009
Living in a Material World
Unlike the woman from whose womb I sprung, I was born with a defective female gene. You know the one that incites so many women to indulge in retail therapy a/k/a the shopping gene. Many people don't know this about me but I would rather endure a root canal than go shopping. And this sentiment has only gotten worse since I have had kids (9 out of 10 times I'll have at least 1 of them trailing behind me in the store just as impatient to get out of there as I am but obviously too young to properly control this building stir-craziness) and moved to France (where I can tell you the customer certainly is NOT king).
It's funny cause once a very long time ago, I had actually dreamed of working in retail as a post-college career. The bulk of my summers were spent working as a salesgirl in various stores throughout Manhattan. All I can say is thank god, Melrose Place came along and that brainy, blonde and okay, bitchy Amanda Woodward steered me off the retail path and into a much more savvy and glamorous form of selling: the world of advertising!
Though I can say that my summers in retail entertained me to no end. I once worked in a very upscale women's apparel store where they actually encouraged us to wear the clothes during the workday, then steam them and hang them back on the racks before we left. Not a very hygenic practice; I often found myself telling loyal customers not to buy items that had been worn by one of the other gals we called Stinky Susan. You can guess why. Clothing issues aside, there was a very large aquarium in the store where the owner kept 2 baby sharks. On days that I worked with her alone, she wold send me off to the local pet store to buy feeder fish and then chuckle loudly as she fed these to the circling sharks. Hello Cruella De Vil!
Another summer I worked in a small athletic gear store next to an upscale private health club. One afternoon when I was alone in the store, Paul Stanley from rock band, Kiss, came in. He was very friendly and asked me to recommend several different brands of bike shorts. I thought he was really cool til he called me to the fitting room, "Oh miss...." and asked me "What do you think of this?" He was standing there completely naked save for the tiniest, form-fittingest bike shorts and a big smile. I probably turned 10 shades of red as I tripped back over a display and mumbled something about needing to check the front of the store. Whether or not Paul was interested in having me "take his measurements" or just giving him an honest opinion on the shorts, I'll never know but it certainly was one of my more memorable moments in retail.
Speaking of embarrassing moments, I cannot tell you how many times when I worked in a small department store this would happen: a guy would enter, start looking through the lingerie section with a kind of panicked look on his face, and when I asked if I could help him, he'd say he was looking for a gift for his girlfriend...maybe a bra and underwear set. When I would ask, well, what size do you need? He'd take a look at me and say, "She's probably about your size." Guys, I beg of you, please do not continue to do this. Not only do we find it insulting to have you staring at our privates as you mentally compare us to your loved one, but frankly it's creepy. Be kind and ask your girlfriend to note her sizes for you next time. I promise it'll be much easier for you in the store and when you take that gift home, it'll avoid the inevitable hissy fit size 6 girlfriend throws cause you mistakenly bought her size 12 lingerie. Sorry ladies but sometimes your creepy boyfriends left me no choice but to talk them into a *very* large pair of granny panties!
The one positive thing I can say about retail is the employee discount. Following a holiday season working at Bloomingdale's, I wound up with an amazing set of assorted barware. Seriously, I have a closet full of the stuff - champagne glasses, rocks glasses, martini glasses, margarita glasses and on and on. Now I've never used half the stuff but hey, I got it cheap!
Which brings me to the subject of today's post. Two retail clients contacted me recently for events at their HQ. The first was GAP who was throwing its employees a small party to thank them and celebrate 40 years of the brand. They requested 40 cupcakes in shades of white and blue with their logo. These pictured are Vanilla Lovers and Storm cupcakes with hand-made (can't you tell?) fondant decorations.
The pastel-colored minis are an order for French department store Printemps. They too were having a small co-worker together and ordered an assortment of After Eight, Chocobutter, Berry Berry Good, Cookies n Cream and Lemon Tart mini cupcakes. In my opinion, retail is best in small doses! ;P