Customer Is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles

Overview

From mom-and-pop general stores to big-box, strip-mall chains, it is impossible to consider the American experience without thinking about the buying-and-selling retail culture: the sales and the stockrooms, the shift managers, and the clock punchers. The Customer Is Always Wrong is a tragicomic and all-too revealing collection of essays by writers who have done their time behind the counter and lived to tell their tales. Jim DeRogatis, author of Let It Blurt, for example, describes hanging out with Al himself at...

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Overview

From mom-and-pop general stores to big-box, strip-mall chains, it is impossible to consider the American experience without thinking about the buying-and-selling retail culture: the sales and the stockrooms, the shift managers, and the clock punchers. The Customer Is Always Wrong is a tragicomic and all-too revealing collection of essays by writers who have done their time behind the counter and lived to tell their tales. Jim DeRogatis, author of Let It Blurt, for example, describes hanging out with Al himself at Al Rocky’s Music Store, while Colson Whitehead explains how three summers at a Long Island ice cream store gave him a lifelong aversion to all things dessert-like. This book not only shines a light on the absurdities of retail culture but finds the delight in it as well.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The mundane tasks and indignant exchanges with impossible customers are hilariously captured in this collection of personal essays by a cross-section of writers and humorists. Some, like a spa attendant's dishy tale, are spun with a catty flair and flirt with a mild contempt for frivolous consumers; others, like Wendy Spero's turn as a door-to-door knife seller, are outrageously funny and incorporate life lessons in the litany of humiliations. Breezy and occasionally creepy musings on everything from guilt over serving fattening Swedish pancakes to seniors to the horrors of working at Sears may provide some nostalgic chuckles and perhaps even some unpleasant flashbacks as this collection elevates retail selling to a rite of passage. Two stories in particular that have less to do with the frustrations of the job and more about the impact of the experience on future endeavors: Hollie Gillespie recounts her days as an industrious child entrepreneur and maintains her steadfast optimism in humanity, and the memories of writer and one-time drummer Jim DeRogatis, who passed the time-but never worked-in a local music store reveals the enduring influence of a mentoring shop owner and achieves true poignancy. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933368900
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Sophmoric writers with nothing to say

    Having worked in retail for years, both corporate, independent and self-employed I was really looking forward to these essays. What a disappointment! My own stories of situations held more humor and suspense, much better than anything they had to say. Some seemed like they had nothing to do with customers. Drawn out stories that revealed nothing much by the time they were thru rambling.

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  • Posted December 12, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Ohh we've all got a retail tale...

    Well this seems like an appropriate time to post this review. The countdown is on ...only twelve shopping days left until Christmas......<BR/><BR/><BR/>The Customer is Always Wrong is an eclectic collection of essays penned by writers who have done time in the retail jungle. I think most of us have "served the public" in a retail capacity at some point in our lives - your first job, putting yourself through university or an extra part time job to make ends meet. For some people it's a fantastic fit, for others - well, it's not. As Jeff Martin says in his introduction, "If this book can help shed a little more light on the often-disregarded retail experience, then we have done our job and done it well."<BR/><BR/>I was hooked from the first story - a college age student's summer job in a large department store chain, the descriptions of the rah rah manager and the attitudes and antics of the staff had me laughing out loud. The tales cover the gamut - from an upscale spa, a video store, home improvement, coffee shop, porn warehouse plus more. One of the best was Wendy Spero's tale of door to door knife sales, preying on friends and family. The saddest was the porn store, though not for the reasons you might think. The most fascinating was Elaine Viets. She writes a series called The Dead-End Job Mysteries. She actually takes on retail jobs to research her characters.<BR/><BR/>Having worked in a large retail chain for many years myself, I could appreciate many of the crazy, imperious and downright odd demands made by customers. I often said to the staff that we could write a book based on the almost daily occurrence. However there was good as well, but there aren't that many of those stories in The Customer is Always Wrong. My only complaint - it wasn't long enough! I devoured it in one sitting. Martin himself works in a bookstore - I'm sure that that's a book waiting to be written.......

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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