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What I Learned During the Holidays

December 31, 2019
By Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

As I sit in front of my computer at work wondering what to write about, my mind keeps reverting to the holiday season and jobs I've had.

After college, I got a job in August at the Kmart in Spencer, in of all places, Ladieswear. Anyone who knows me, laughed at the idea of me working in ladies fashion.

Growing up on a farm, I am a tomboy through-and-through so to me ladies fashion was jeans and t-shirt. Sorry I digress.

Anyway, I had about three and a half months to prepare myself for the holiday shopping season. You may think that would be plenty of time. I'm here to tell you there is no way humanly possible to prepare yourself for the first time you work retail during the holidays.

Co-workers at the store told me stories of their experiences during the holiday shopping season, all of them agreeing that it's really not bad until "Black Friday" and then "Boxing Day." Honestly, I thought they were just trying to scare me, I should have known better.

First thing to remember is that I am talking about the late 1980s when I started in retail. This was a job I continued for almost 25 years. In those 25 years, I have seen just about anything you can think of when it comes to the holidays and retail sales.

Holiday Barbie, remember these. Different dresses every year and dated.Those were definitely a collector's item and when the store only got in a dozen, well you can imagine.

Then there was Furby. Furby was a little fuzz ball that looked like a really cute gremlin and came in many different colors. As a child played with it, Furby learned words and would interact with them. Every kid wanted one and, well when they first came out, our store got two dozen for Black Friday.

An employee would need to stand at the endcap of Holiday Barbie or Furby to make sure no one took one got hurt.

People would be standing in line for hours to be first into the door just to get one of these toys. I have seen grandmothers in their 70s fight over Holiday Barbie. I have watched men push pregnant women down for Holiday Barbie. I have seen people climb shelving to get to Furby. This is a time when I really wondered about what these people were like six months from now or if this was who they truly were.

"Boxing Day" was another dreaded day in the life of retail. It is the day after Christmas when everyone brings back those items they received and didn't want, were too small, or just no real reason for the return.

Most had no receipt; yet, expected. rather demanded, a full price refund and never wanted an exchange.

Most people need to take just a simple one hour turn behind a counter over the holidays and they will understand why retail is so stressful during this most wonderful time of the year and to realize, the customer is not always right.



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