Everyone who grew up in the early 90s and is wondering what happened to the livelier version of retail stores.
Working in retail has never been more difficult. The grueling work hours, getting berated by your supervisors and handling obnoxious customers are a part of retail workers' daily routine. However, have you ever wondered if this line of work was any different a few decades ago? Reddit user u/YepperyYepstein, a person who grew up in the early 90s, turned to the Reddit community to find the answer to a question that is not asked often.
The person posed a question, "Was the morale and experience of working retail different in the late 80s and early 90s than it is now?" This person shared their earliest memories of retail stores from 1994-95. "I remember my parents shopping and bringing me along, employees seemed happier, less stressed and more laid back and casual, and companies were way better staffed. I remember my parents actually sitting down with a blinds and wallpaper consultant at HQ/Builder's Square back in the day and remember the process being really specific and thoughtful," the Reddit user recalled.
"Now at Home Depot, the employees all look sad and most are too busy to stop doing what they need to do to have a discussion, let alone sit at a desk for a consult," the post continued. "I remember early trips to places like Sears and the mall with my dad. The people seemed more lively and hopeful than now, at least in my memories. There seemed to be a higher density of employees than now, where back in the day there was more money spent on customer service and proper staffing."
The individual added how it seemed like there were customer service representatives in each store back then but over time those roles were removed. "But again, it could just be how I was young and naive and my memory may have totally mis-observed the true reality of what I was seeing. Now everything feels like it's just bare bones, running on fumes of its former self. Stores are just empty brands with staff who feel hopeless and are clearly stressed and overworked," the post added.
The post concluded with the person asking fellow Reddit users about what could have brought this drastic change in the ambiance of a retail store through the past decades. What could have happened that made the companies change their attitude toward the retail stores and the people working in them? Is it because of inflation or the stress that retail workers go through on recent dates? A few retail workers dropped down in the comment section to share their experiences of working in retail stores.
u/PlantedinCA wrote: "Society was a lot more polite and patient. When I worked in retail, you were a cashier, no one would interrupt me in the middle of a transaction to ask a question. It was considered exceptionally rude and you would be called on it. Nowadays half the time I check out at a drug store the cashier is interrupted by someone who wants to know where something is or wants access to a locked case. They interrupt mid-sentence. With no respect for the person the cashier is currently helping."
u/Seabeak commented: "The internet has played a big part in this. A lot of retail barely makes any profit and is essentially an advert/showroom for their (and Amazon's) online store. I recall queuing for ages in stores and banks. Now we call our service provider and queue in phone queues." u/Kaitlyn_Boucher added, "That's exactly how it was. I remember going to my local independent department store, and there was someone who would measure my foot and bring out shoes for me to try. I'd always end up with a pair because they were so good at finding just the right thing. It's better than going to someplace like Marshall's where the shoes are all in disarray, and no one knows anything."
In a similar story, a retail store employee u/funwithpigeons, shared on Reddit how they quit their job at a Burlington store within 15 minutes of joining. During the orientation, the supervisor acted coldly toward the new employee and upon reaching the store for their scheduled shift the supervisor showed her true colors and gruffly told them to get out of the way and start from Monday. The employee also revealed that they were diagnosed with severe social anxiety, which meant they had a hard time dealing with people.
The fact that the supervisor was so rude made it much harder. They wrote on the Reddit post, "Perhaps I should have sucked it up for the sake of a paycheck, but I can't handle people like that. I just can't. Not to mention that she didn't even know I was supposed to work Friday and that no one seemed to be on the same page as to how the work should be done. I could tell it was a toxic, disorganized work environment, and I have no regrets that I left."