I work in beauty retail. I’m a seasonal employee with The Body Shop in Miami. I’m lucky that I get to pick my own uniform (head-to-toe black with basic dress code decency) of which the most difficult aspect is finding pretty, yet comfortable shoes that allow me to stand up for five to eight hours.
What do I do? I restock the shelves. I learn everything I can to sell the products to customers. I offer demonstrations and samples of skincare and make-up. I’m friendly and approachable and try to make my customers feel welcomed and beautiful. I keep the store clean.
This may all sound unremarkable and for anyone who has ever worked retail this may very well be true. However, what makes working in beauty unique are the sorts of customers we often get, particularly with this specific brand. Here are some of my special categories:
The “I’m Manly, But I Need a Gift” Gentleman: This fellow rushes in usually around the holidays, with a slightly terrified look in his eyes (the closer it is to the special date, the more frightened he looks.) The second I so much as turn towards him, he loudly declares that he’s in our store for a gift, so that no one can possibly make the mistake that he is here for himself. When asked about the gift recipient’s tastes (“Would she prefer a fragrance set or a bath kit? Is she into floral scents or fruity?”) the best answer I’ll get is a blank stare and mumbling about “She likes… you know… nice stuff.” These customers will never purchase single items to form a gift basket, but will always rely on the premade sets. 80% of them will buy Satsuma. 40% of them will flirt with female employees.
The “Greenies”: These customers are all about being green and have likely been following The Body Shop for several years (“There used to be this lovely fragrance called AquaLily…”) They love to gush about how awesome and environmentally conscious we are, at best, and at worst, try to educate me, the employee, on my own store. I’m not here to debate the company’s ethics (we do have several critics,) but sometimes I get the urge to take them into the backroom and show them how many trees have to die whenever our shipments arrive.
The “Penny-Pincher Princesses”: These are, by far, my least favorite. They stroll in and make a bee-line for employees on the floor. They ask questions about all the products shown to them, want demonstrations, will ask me if I can do their make-up, and generally do everything to hold my attention for a minimum of half an hour. And then, they leave. Oh, they don’t always leave without a purchase, but it’ll be the smallest, cheapest product they could find. I know The Body Shop’s items can be a little bit overpriced, but these ladies, whom are always hard to spot, seem to want everything on discount. If there’s a buy-two-get-one, they’ll still complain that the cheapest items are the ones given for free (seriously, what store doesn’t do that?) They’ll also want samples. Of everything. Sure, I know that a well-filled sample of Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion will keep you until you have enough money. I use that trick myself, but there’s a difference: I work here, for just about minimum wage, so I get the perks.