Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail

3.8 45
by Caitlin Kelly
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

One woman's midcareer misadventures in the absurd world of American retail.

After losing her job as a journalist and the security of a good salary, Caitlin Kelly was hard up for cash. When she saw that The North Face-an upscale outdoor clothing company-was hiring at her local mall, she went for an interview almost on a whim.

Suddenly sheSee more details below

Overview

One woman's midcareer misadventures in the absurd world of American retail.

After losing her job as a journalist and the security of a good salary, Caitlin Kelly was hard up for cash. When she saw that The North Face-an upscale outdoor clothing company-was hiring at her local mall, she went for an interview almost on a whim.

Suddenly she found herself, middle-aged and mid-career, thrown headfirst into the bizarre alternate reality of the American mall: a world of low-wage workers selling overpriced goods to well-to-do customers. At first, Kelly found her part-time job fun and reaffirming, a way to maintain her sanity and sense of self-worth. But she describes how the unexpected physical pressures, the unreasonable dictates of a remote corporate bureaucracy, and the dead-end career path eventually took their toll. As she struggled through more than two years at the mall, despite surgeries, customer abuse, and corporate inanity, Kelly gained a deeper understanding of the plight of the retail worker.

In the tradition of Nickel and Dimed, Malled challenges our assumptions about the world of retail, documenting one woman's struggle to find meaningful work in a broken system.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kelly's debut book reveals the thankless job of a tireless retailer in a very personal way, after becoming one of the legions of low-wage workers persuading customers to buy marked-up goods. She worked for two years and three months as a retail sales associate for North Face, an upscale outdoor wear maker, after leaving her chaotic journalist career when "unwanted drama" as a reporter at the Daily News convinced her to seek solace in a mindless retail job. At age 50 and adrift careerwise, Kelly thought the retail position would be a cinch, until it became a punishing tangle of long hours, erratic shifts, rude customers, excessive workloads, and insensitive bosses. It's a stretch when she compares the horrible plight of Chinese and Asian workers to herself and her crew; their overworked, underpaid American counterparts definitely fare better. Burned out, bored, and physically deteriorating, Kelly quit the store before she reached the boiling point. While Kelly's tone is slightly whiney, she does offer an intriguing look into the retail business.(Apr.)
From the Publisher
"After losing her job as a journalist in 2006, Kelly, middle-agedand mid-career, went to work as a part-time salesassociate in a suburban mall. This is a clear-eyedaccount of the often thankless world of Americanretail: the low pay, physical demands and corporatebureaucracy."
The New York Times, paperback row
Kirkus Reviews

A frank look into the world of low-paying retail work.

Following her unexpected dismissal from theNew York Daily News, Kelly pursued freelancing writing. Though she wrote for numerous national publications,one year of chasing paychecks and working alone was enough—she wanted something "simple and steady." When a branch of The North Face opened in a mall near her home, the author signed on as a part-time sales associate. Initially, Kelly enjoyed her work, easily connecting with customers, and she regularly exceeded her sales goals. For a time, "being needed, being relied upon, even for simple tasks at low wage, was a balm to my soul."Eventually, however, the relentless corporate demands, spoiled and wealthy customers, chaotic working conditions and low wages diminished Kelly's intellectual and creative zest. Though data reveals that 50 percent of those hired for retail positions are gone within 90 days, the author stayed at The North Face for more than two years. In parsing her work experiences, Kelly often arrives at blunt and depressing insights about her working conditions. She weaves in disconcerting stories and facts collected from retail workers outside her store, widening her narrative lens. Kelly deftly pulls back the cleverly constructed curtain between the shiny, corporate image presented to mall shoppers and the degrading work environment inhabited by the individuals toiling behind the counter. "Working as a retail associate," she writes, "means being reminded daily that you're merely one tiny cog in an enormous global machine, from the workers six time zones away stitching apparel to the equally invisible, distant CEO collecting millions. You're completely disposable."

Despite occasional repetition, a startling story of one reporter's extended peek into a brutish new world order.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101476376
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/14/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
669,091
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"After losing her job as a journalist in 2006, Kelly, middle-agedand mid-career, went to work as a part-time salesassociate in a suburban mall. This is a clear-eyedaccount of the often thankless world of Americanretail: the low pay, physical demands and corporatebureaucracy."
-- The New York Times, paperback row

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >