Attention Retail Shoppers:

Black Friday is upon us. To retailers, this is theoretically the day they end up in the black for the year. To shoppers, this is the day to celebrate the meaning of the season by enjoying sales on already overpriced merchandise. Or something like that.

For retail employees, this is just another day…times tentyfive.

I’ve been a retail employee at the same store for nearly five years. In that time I’ve seen my share of the good, the bad, and the just plain stupid in humanity.

So here’s some advice from a lowly retail employee:

1. Please check the expiration date on coupons. After five years, I’ve gotten over the irritation with people who present out-of-date coupons. Now I just think you can’t read or you read selectively. At this point in society, it seems we all are aware most coupons have expiration dates. So this Black Friday, buy a calendar to help you compare the coupon date to the current date.

2. Understand the rules of your coupons. If the first point was news to you, I guess this one is, too. Most coupons have some stipulations. For example, you can’t use coupons on charitable purchases at my store. We explain this to people and we usually have no problems. But we did have a customer last week complain about this, even after we explained the items were to benefit the Children’s Hopsital in Greenville. I have no sympathy for you, lady.

3. Expect to wait in a line. When you loudly sigh while standing behind three people in line, you just seem like a douche. If you’re shopping on any weekend day from now until after Christmas, expect a line. At the very least, expect to wait behind one person with two cartloads of stuff.

4. If the line is backed up, try to keep your special requests to a minimum. It just seems like the considerate thing to do. If you’re asking me to bag Timmy, Tom, Alice, Jack, Jane, & John’s gifts separately because they’re going to separate places, you’re just being annoying to the people behind you.

5. If something seems like it’s on an incredible supertastic sale, get to the store early. Seriously people, if you’re expecting to show up at 4 p.m. this Friday and get the camera that was $50, I’m going to tell you you’re about 12 hours late. We do get people like this. Yes, we do get a lot of those big sale items. Yes, they do sell out quickly. Why? Because the grass is green.

6. Try to have some idea of how much you are about to spend. I’ve never understood how some shoppers approach shopping. I’m sure most people enter a store with an idea of how much they are willing to spend. We get a lot of customers who seemingly pick up everything they could possibly want, then come to the register and ask how much each item is, then say they don’t want 3/4 of the items. This leftover merchandise can’t always be put back on the floor immediately, especially on busy days. By doing something like this, you’re preventing other customers from being able to purchase the merchandise because, you know, they can’t find it.

7. Exercise common courtesy. If a new cashier opens and you’re number 3 in line, don’t cut in front of the others just so you can check out. If you’re returning merchandise & hoping to purchase more at the service desk, make sure there aren’t 10 people behind you waiting to return merchandise. Try to at least hang your merchandise back up when leaving the fitting room. And if you’re a frequent shopper, you should expect to hear the cashier ask the same things at the point of sale…things about signing up for credit cards & the like. It’s just their job to ask. You can politely decline instead of making a scene (which I have seen many times).

8. Expect to show ID. You’d think I wouldn’t have to say this, but we’ve also had our share of people who act like they’re offended we’d ask for ID with a credit card or, of all things, a check. It’s just a fact of our modern society; we need to check your ID.

I think you’ll have an easier shopping experience this holiday season with this advice. Of course, maybe you’ll just find me & call me bitter. I’ll just smile and say, “Have a nice day!”.

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