Friday 23 December 2016

Christmas in retail: Things that could only happen in the Out Of Favour shop (and a few that happened somewhere else)

The Annual Dying of Boredom Ritual (aka. Lantern Parade Day, Part One)
It’s the day of the kids’ lantern parade; a charming tradition where we all pretend the kids have made the lanterns whilst knowing that the parents have made every inch of their exactly-to-scale tissue paper version of The Millennium Falcon, or Elsa and Olaf, or whatever, in a tooth and nail, fight-to-the death game of one-upmanship with all the other parents in the town. Consequently the shop is like a morgue because they’re all touching up their (sorry, their kid’s) masterpieces at home. It’s empty. Except for MAMAA (aka Middle Aged Man Always Around) Mr SS, who spends two hours drinking green tea and recounting the weekly sales from his market stall: how many, how much, who to. Inside my head I alternate between vegetation and apoplectic rage. The Christmas love begins..…

Photo: MarinaRossi, Pixabay

Friday 16 December 2016

The annual Christmas works do, or, How to Survive a Night With The Boss

By the time I arrived in the pub, TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) had already cornered the New Favourite Shop’s Landlord and was busy schmoozing him into submission. Occasionally he’d throw pleading glances to others around the room, but to no avail. No one was coming to rescue him.

Then TBE sent him to the bar, and whilst he was away she seized her chance to drag a row of seats into a straight line directly opposite the Landlord’s vacant chair, and bizarrely instructed us employees to sit in them shoulder to shoulder. I felt like I was back at school. When the Landlord returned to his chair, there we all were: a row of staring faces, like a hostile jury with personal space issues. He looked terrified.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Friday 9 December 2016

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. It might spit in your face.

Our bright, bubbly Saturday girl handed in her notice, which was sad for TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) and for me. I was sad because I liked her and she worked hard. TBE was sad because she was under age and TBE could pay her peanuts. Of course, that still didn’t mean she was going to be replaced by another tweeny exploitee:

“You can cope on your own on a Saturday from now on, can’t you?”

As a thank you for all her hard work, TBE generously announced she would give Saturday Girl whatever she wanted from the shop as her leaving present. Saturday Girl wanted a bag in a colour that had just sold out. I told TBE.

“No problem” she breezed, with all the warmth and generosity of a Retail Mother Earth bestowing Great Favours. “Whatever she wants, she shall have. Leave it with me. I’ll sort it out.”

Friday 2 December 2016

Embarrassing pumpkin soup for Christmas, anyone?

So the local town did Halloween. How long ago was that now? Over a month. This town does Halloween in a big way: lots of dressing up and partying. And the shops join in. All the shop windows are bedecked with pumpkins and cobwebs and witches broomsticks weeks before the big night. 

All except one.

The window of the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop was still rocking floaty, summery numbers right up until the 31st October, when three sad looking pumpkins quietly appeared in the display.

Three sad looking pumpkins.But still less sad than the actual ones. Picture: htconesandroid: Pixabay

Woo hoo! At last! The OOF shop is all set to do the Retail Run-up to Halloween, which is, er, today......

The day after Halloween, the shops moved on; pumpkins, cobwebs and the like disappeared from every shop window in the high street.

Except one.

Friday 25 November 2016

Hello Treasure! Give me a smile

Three very uncomfortable looking people came into the OOF (Out of Favour) shop the other day, all middle aged, all smiling maniacally. The two men slunk awkwardly into the far corner, whilst Lady Leader advanced forward and stood silently in front of me. Smiling.

Alarm bells started beeping loudly in my brain.

Smiley smiley! Picture: Gratisography

Friday 11 November 2016

Scrumptious, with a little extra something....

In the OOFS (Out OF Favour Shop) there is a little (teeny, miniscule) café, and in the café there is cake; delicious, homemade cake crafted by independent local bakers.

Photo: lagrafika: Pixabay
At least, that’s how it started off. Unfortunately, TBE’s (aka The Boss Erratic’s) attention to detail being what it is, the cake very quickly became less homemade and more mass made. Basically, it now comes from the local supermarket. And if anyone asks if the cake is homemade (which they do), I have to tell them, “It’s sourced locally.” Great, eh?

Being (secretly) shop bought, the cake has a ‘use by’ date, and being (not so secretly) too small to swing an irritating boss in, the café has few customers, so there is often lots of cake leftover by the, ‘use by,’ date. This has to be thrown out.

Or does it?

Friday 4 November 2016

“Please Sir, I want some more” *

TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) appears to be on Shop Girl X (aka me) avoidance manoeuvres again. But I don’t mind. I don’t like her very much.

I used to. After all, she comes across as warm, bubbly and personable. But underneath that candy floss sweet exterior I found something more akin to a rusty old nut: hard, stubborn and flaky. Yes, that’s it; I reckon she’s a candy floss covered rusty old nut. Lovely!
Photo: Potztausend: Pixabay

It was The Minimum Wage Episode a couple of years ago that really started the scales falling from my eyes…..

Friday 28 October 2016

I’ve got the ghost of a Feeling…but it might just be wind

How come those customers (you know the ones) always pick the exact day I really, really want to leave on time to come in near closing and be weird?  How do they know I’ve got tickets for a show and need to be on a train within 45 minutes of closing time? How do they know!? It’s spooky…..

This time it was a mother and daughter. They came in fifteen minutes before the shop was due to shut, looked briefly and disinterestedly at the stock (‘Yay!’ I thought. ‘They’re obviously not going to stay long….’), and then the mother asked to sit down (12 minutes to closing and counting). 

Friday 21 October 2016

Umm... where exactly do you think you are?”

It’s always a good idea for shop owners to make it clear what they’re selling. If you make it look like a duck and make it walk like a duck, the chances are customers will realise you are actually selling ducks (obviously not literally, although I suppose there are people who sell ducks…).

Photo: Alexas-Fotos:Pixabay

Friday 14 October 2016

Warm and fuzzy; and that’s just the milk..

So, the gloriously refurbished Out Of Favour shop was reopened, with fancy wallpaper, gorgeous displays of jewellery and scarves, beautiful clothing, and a sweet little vintage café area in the corner. Customers think this is marvellous. They love sitting on a vintage chair at a vintage table and having coffee and cake from vintage china (well, vintage style. In reality it all comes from Ikea). And who doesn’t love coffee and cake on vintage china? But pull back the curtain and the shoddy workings are revealed: the refurbished Out Of Favour shop has no fridge.

Friday 7 October 2016

Queen Cnute is in the house…

I saw her coming up the road from a long way away.

There is something about a seasoned eccentric that allows you to clock them even when they are much too far away to focus on properly. In her case it was probably something to do with the odd looking battered straw hat, the unusual looking wicker shopping basket, the mismatched clothing and the way she was muttering angrily to herself that gave the game away.

(Note: I’m not saying wicker baskets are a sign of window lickers per se. In fact, I have one, generously given to me by my mother in law, and I love it).

Photo: ATDSphoto: Pixabay

Friday 30 September 2016

Wipe clean and recycle: the charitable fetishist’s motto

Volunteer S from the charity shop next door came in dragging a full bin liner behind him and smirking all over his face.

“I’ve had the best donation ever!”

I’m used to the volunteers moaning about dirty chip pans, stained tracksuit bottoms and broken picture frames, so this was new. He put his hand in the bin liner and slowly pulled out a very short, very tight, shiny plastic nurse’s uniform, complete with full length zip, little white cap and white stockings attached. I stared at it. Who would even bring something like that in? And who on earth would want to touch it? But he wasn’t done. Next he pulled out a short, frilly, low cut black number, with a red pinny, and black stockings attached, which was clearly a naughty maid’s outfit.

Picture: OpenClipart Vectors: Pixabay

But there was more. 

Friday 23 September 2016

How to (almost) lose a good shop girl part 2: in five weeks

Photo: Schuldnerhilfe: Pixabay
I was having a lovely holiday. I was feeling happy and relaxed……and then I got a text from The Boss Erratic (aka TBE). (A quick word about TBE: she always texts. She never calls. It’s a way of keeping those annoying people who want your time and attention at arms length – like employees).

The text said:

Friday 16 September 2016

How to lose a good shop girl part 1: in ten seconds

Colleague Cockney wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea; she couldn’t spell (deciphering her messages was an interesting task), she had a foghorn voice that was drenched in nicotine, and she talked incessantly. Her cockney accent also drew comment (mainly from shop colleagues and The Boss Erratic, it has to be said, who were a bit sniffy).

Photo: 947051: Pixabay
Communicating with Colleague Cockney via phone was very different to communicating with The Boss Erratic (aka TBE). She liked to chat, in real time. 

In contrast, TBE does everything by text (it is not unusual for me to not see or speak to TBE for three or four months at a time. But that’s another post – I’ll let you know when I’ve written it).

Still, Colleague Cockney was new, and she was learning. She was fine in the shop on her own (there is only ever one person in the Out Of Favour shop at any one time), her attitude was good; she was cheerful, popular with customers and she had a good work ethic.

But Colleague Cockney got the sack. I am reliably informed it happened like this:

Friday 9 September 2016

Safety procedures? Us? Ooo, you are funny!

New people have moved into the office upstairs. One came down to ask about our fire safety procedures:

Who was our fire warden?
How often did we have fire drills?
Where were our fire alarms?
When was our next fire safety check due?

I stared at him blankly for a few long seconds and then shrugged. Which, in hindsight, was probably not very helpful or reassuring to him.

Picture: Stock Up: New Old Stock

Friday 2 September 2016

Who on earth do you think we are?!

People mistake the Out Of Favour shop for a charity shop ALL THE TIME!

This isn’t as random as it seems. The Out of Favour shop is next door to a charity shop, and because there is no name above our door people get confused easily. They shouldn’t. It seems perfectly clear to me, especially once inside. It’s bleedin’ obvious it’s a nice, normal boutique. But that doesn’t stop people trying to foist their plastic sacks full of broken, unwanted tat on me all the time:

“I’m just leaving this with you, love, OK?” (Um, no).

The trouble is, I have yet to find a polite way to tell them they’re in the wrong shop. It always comes out sounding horribly patronising. Let me offer you an excruciating example:

Photo: Pexels:

Friday 26 August 2016

To wee or not to wee: the art of toilet trips

It’s all about timing. Mid mornings and early afternoons are usually better than first thing or mid-afternoon - when the yummy mummies are on the prowl. And it’s useful to check there’s nobody dodgy-looking outside who might dash in and empty the contents of the shop into a duffel bag whilst I’m mid flow.

It’s the being on my own. It causes problems when I need the loo. I can’t just lock the front door because;

1) The Boss Erratic has spies everywhere, and she’ll know; 
2) There’s always a bunch of stock displayed outside and it would just be too much of a pain to pack it all up and get it inside every time I needed a pee.

Photo: Unsplash: Gabor Monori
No, I just need to get the timing right.

And the preparation. Preparation is key.

Friday 19 August 2016

The Great Rota mystery

Hello. Shop Girl X here. I’m at work today. And then…who knows? The Boss Erratic hasn’t done a rota. So I have no idea what I’m working next month, next week, or even in two days time!

Sadly, this isn’t unusual.

The Boss Erratic (aka TBE) seems to find compiling rotas a bore. Actually, TBE seems to find quite a lot of things a bore: health and safety safeguards, any sort of team communication, food sell-by dates. A queen of visual merchandising she may be, but a stickler for the rotas (and practically anything else) she is not. 

Picture: Pixabay: Artsy Bee

Friday 12 August 2016

The mystery of the invisible shop

Photo: Pixabay: Graphic Mama
At least once a week a random customer will come in and ask me if this is a new shop. Not so strange, you may think. Except this has been happening for almost five years. The conversation often goes something like this:

“Are you new here? You must be new here.”
“Not really. We’ve been here for almost five years now.”
“No. That can’t be right.”
“Er, well yes, we have.”
“You weren’t here the last time I was in town.”
“When was that?”
“A few months ago.”
“Um, yes. We definitely were.”
“Oh. But I haven’t seen you before.”
“You haven’t? OK….. Well... er.... I’m sorry about that, but we were definitely here then”
Sounding most put-out: “Oh.”

Awkward pause……and we’re off again:

Friday 5 August 2016

The bonds of love…

A lovely lady came in. She didn’t move very well and had a stick. She said she wanted to buy some scarves so we starting looking at the scarves and discussing the options. I asked her whether she preferred lacy edging or plain edging, and she told me she liked to be tied to her bedposts using them.

Photo: Pixabay

Friday 29 July 2016

What’s in a name? What name?

There is no name above the Out Of Favour shop. There never has been, even when it was the only shop TBE (The Boss Erratic) had. Consequently, most people never knew what the shop was called, which is good because it’s not called that anymore.

Photo: Pixabay
Now that the second shop, (The New Favourite Shop), has opened, the new name of the New Favourite shop is the old name of the Out Of Favour shop. The Out of Favour Shop is now called something different entirely. But nobody knows any of this because the New Favourite shop doesn’t have a name above it either.

Friday 22 July 2016

Come meet the locals

Considering the Out Of Favour shop sells ladies clothes there are an awful lot of middle aged men who come to visit us. I called them the MAMAAs: Middle Aged Men Always Around. They don’t come to buy clothes, obviously. They come to talk. And, of course, I have no choice but to listen; I am a captive audience. I can’t tell them they’re talking rubbish, or they’re boring, or to shut up and go away. I’m paid to be nice. Tragically, I think they mistake that for genuine interest.

Let me introduce you:

Photo: Pixabay