Hall, Freeman. “Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store: Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate”, Adams Media, 2009.
“Can I Help You”
Can you remember the last time someone in a store said those words to you? Retail has changed a great deal over the years just as working in retail has. Freeman Hall knew he was destined to retail as it seemed as if his entire family had been involved in it sometime. This was not what he wanted from his life—he wanted to write for the movies and he never lost that dream. Ultimately he moved to California and he needed a job so he began working at a department store (unnamed at first but referred to as The Big Fancy) that was known for its excellent public service. We soon learn that the store was Nordstrom and that Hall spent 15 years selling handbags there. And here is the book that tells us all about it.
Hall tells all from the training to the staff meetings to the customers and to say he is bitter as a bit of an understatement. He brings his customers to life as do his coworkers and his bosses and you will be sure to try to understand how and why he continued in that job. Hall looks at it as if he was a slave and he has us laughing with him. In fact he saw no way out of the job of selling handbags (not to be confused with purses). If you have ever worked retail and most of us have we can easily identify with Hall.
The book is very funny but we are laughing at ourselves. Yet the book is a bit sad as well if we take it as a commentary on how we live. We are quick to see that society is spend crazy and so many of us work at jobs that we really do not like very much but we need money so we can spend it. Combining humor and wit, we are taken into the world of retails where all is not how it seems and the poor retail worker takes a lot of grief. This is a book that you should want to read, especially since it is about all of us in some way. Author Hall is angry and laughing at us at the same time and this is a refreshing read.