Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate

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"I think you left these behind," I said, handing them to her. This happens all the time when women try to return bags they’ve used. Tampons, lipstick, coins, Tic Tacs, and condoms are the top treasures found.

'Greasy' let out a sigh, as if I were the problem. "I was just trying my things in it. I really don't see what the problem is here. It's none of your business what I keep in my handbag."

It is when my ...

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Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store: Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate

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Overview

"I think you left these behind," I said, handing them to her. This happens all the time when women try to return bags they’ve used. Tampons, lipstick, coins, Tic Tacs, and condoms are the top treasures found.

'Greasy' let out a sigh, as if I were the problem. "I was just trying my things in it. I really don't see what the problem is here. It's none of your business what I keep in my handbag."

It is when my commission is at stake! I'm not your Designer Handbag Rental Service! My name is not BagBorrowOrSteal.com!

Enter Freeman Hall, an aspiring screenwriter who sets out to realize his Hollywood dream, but instead plunges into the seventh circle of Retail Hell when the rent comes due, selling animal-hide Hobos and overpriced clutches to Lookie-Loos and Picky Bitches—but always with a sunshiny smile.

Freeman toils in the handbag (that's handbag, NOT purse) department of the Big Fancy department store, where he sees, hears, smells (and unfortunately, feels) it all! Here, he provides a true—and truly shocking—account of life from the other side of the handbag display. From early-morning RA-RA RALLIES to the craziest crazy-lady customers, Freeman's horrific and hilarious workday tales redefine Juicy Couture.

As Freeman begins to plots his escape, he realizes that despite the Big Fancy's lax return policy, for him, there really may be no returns . . . no exchanges . . . no way out.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For Hall, retail was destiny, for he came from a family of retail workers, including his great-grandfather, who owned a furniture-and-appliance store in his hometown of Reno, Nev. But Hall, as he explains, had a different dream: he wanted to be a screenwriter. He didn't give up those aspirations, despite having retail jobs during his growing-up years. When he moved to California to get closer to the film industry, he looked for a job that could help him pay the bills and look fabulous at the same time. He landed a job at a department store he calls “The Big Fancy,” an upscale emporium known for its customer service. Those who've worked on the front lines of the service industry will relate to Hall's bitter memoir (and recognize the retailer as Nordstrom, where he spent 15 years as a handbag salesman). Hall's memoir chronicles wacky training exercises, sleep-inducing staff meetings and, of course, the customers. Every nutty client becomes a character, from foul-mouthed Lorraine, aka Shoposaurus Carnivoarus, to more generic Serpents and Bloodsuckers. Screenplaylike renderings of Hall's dreams pop up throughout the book, as do rants about co-workers, customers' endless capacity for lying in the service of returning obviously used items and more. Hall's voice is sharp and sometimes funny, not unlike a retail-centric Perez Hilton—but the book will leave readers wondering why Hall stayed in retail for decades if he hated it so much. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605501024
  • Publisher: Adams Media Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/18/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Freeman Hall (Los Angeles, CA) is a retail survivor who began slaving in retail at the age of twenty at Macy’s. His most notable retailicious experience was with specialty clothing store Nordstrom, where he spent fifteen years as an award-winning handbag manager and salesperson. Check out RetailHelltheBook.com for his blog, videos, sounding board, and more.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 73 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(21)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Quirky in a Good Way

    I have never worked in retail and until I read this book I really never thought that much about what the job entailed. I certainly do now. The author not only let the public in on what goes on before the doors open at Big Fancy, but taught us that there is no such thing as a purse, it's a handbag.

    The author also introduced us to some of his customers ~ in detail ~ and many of them were laugh out loud funny. I had no idea there were customers who came to department stores on a daily basis, customers who requested discounts on top of discounts, or there were "customers" that returned items incognito as their handbags were never purchased at the Big Fancy or in some cases, at all...

    This book, although meant to be funny, has given me a new respect for those who serve the public. I don't envy them.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2009

    Been there!

    I have a feeling the people who didn't like this have never worked retail. If you've worked retail there's no way you can't relate to at least some of this. Its easy to read, fast and if you want to laugh out loud definitely give it a try. For those of you who have never worked retail and think it can't possibly be true, oh yeah, it is. People are pigs.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    A must read for anyone in retail!!!

    So I have always worked retail....I have been the low man on totem pole and the General manager ...This book is a MUST READ for anyone who has ever worked retail... I never laughed soooo hard from a book before...I am glad someone put into writing, what we, in retail, deal with every day!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great for anyone who's ever worked retail!

    I just finished this one, and it made me laugh out loud during my breaks at work (which IS retail, albeit much less horrifying than Mr. Hall makes his job out to be). I have to believe that some of these anecdotes were exaggerated because if I had snapped back at any of my customers as he did, I would be in serious trouble! But either way, this book is hilarious and easily relatable for anyone who's worked in retail. Returns, cranky customers, psychotic coworkers...it's all there. Took me about 2 days to finish. Read for a good laugh!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    Best recommendation ever

    Had me in tears laughing while on retail hell lunch hr. His terms for the customers that come through. He inspires me to write more on what i experience on a day by day basis. Driving me to a caffeine overdose once a month. Left me wanting more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    Don't Bother...quick read but not even worth that effort

    As a formal "retail slave" I had been looking forward to reading this book as soon as I heard about it. Unfortunately the author manages to make what should be funny relatable stories...uninteresting and filled with whiny dribble.

    What had the potential to be a laugh out loud funny read turned out to be 277 pages of listening to a man complain and whine like a immature baby. If I wanted to listen to that I would have stayed in retail and listened to my co-workers.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Very funny

    I laughed all the way to the end. Great fast read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    Retail Hilarious

    Some stories were laugh out loud funny. The things described are real and sometimes gross. I'm glad Freeman wrote this book. I did get tired of the f word mid way thru the book. Better editing next time - several wrong words used.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    Who Would Ever Choose to Work In Retail?

    I found this book quite recently. Being relatively new to retail (approx 2 years) my department is next to 'handbags' and I found this book quite a revelation. Hilarious, yet sad in places . I found the language a bit strong and not entirely necessary in some parts but haven't we all experienced some of these scenes in our own lives? Purchased copies for my team and we can all relate to some parts of this book. Very witty and well written. Recommend for all those in retail, especially high end handbags!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    I Love This Book!

    I read this book on my flight to Hawaii and couldn't put it down. I was laughing out loud. The passengers around me were dieing to know what I was reading, including the Flight Attendant. I have to give Retail Hell 5 stars for its humor and originality. I look forward to book 2!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    SO delicious

    I have been in retail since I was 16, and have encountered almost everything that Freeman has described, excluding the 9000 steps of hell. I think that everyone should read this book, if for no other reason than to understand the real crap that retail workers endure every day. Perhaps the entitlement complex that most customers feel might diminish in the slightest bit. Good luck, Freeman. I hope you meet a cute boy who needs his inseam measured!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2009

    Everyone needs to read this book!!!!

    Im sure at some point in everyones lives we work in some type of retail.... This book just speaks for all of us who are a slave to the store. I was rolling on the floor in laughter through the whole thing. This book needs to be passed out at all retail stores to get us through the day! Thank you Freeman Hall for making me smile!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2014

    Eye opening

    I really enjoyed this book. I can tell all of you that I am not wired to be in retail. Prison would probably be the outcome. I sometimes felt like Freeman might be pumping up the story a bit, but then I thought of some of the people I have met in my life and now it's not so unbelievable. I will buy Return to the Big Fancy sometime soon. I can't imagine what made him go back.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Once u start reading this book u can't put it down

    This book is highly recommend for any one who wants to work at Nordstroms !
    It shows you what it's like working on Commision only!!
    I worked there in the women's clothing dept. and this books truly tells it like it is !!
    Good luck to all my friends that are still working there .

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    It was entertaining

    A story about a gay male that sells handbags ar a large expensive store

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Love it!

    Freeman is hilarious, and so relatable for those of us who work in retail!

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    Hilarious from Cover to Cover!

    I find that most books I buy are impulse buys. I rarely go into a bookstore looking for something specific. On this occasion, however, I was in the biography section in search of a birthday gift for my Grandmother. That's where I spotted this little gem.
    When I read the back of the book, I thought it would be an interesting read. One of my best friends has a retail job and I loathe it, because we work very conflicting schedules and rarely get to hang out. So I thought reading a no-holds barred confessional by experienced sales associate Freeman Hall would give me some insight into her job.
    I don't mean to say that I think a retail job is easy. I worked retail in high school, and I know it isn't easy. But Mr. Hall's account takes it to a whole new level.
    I positively devoured this book. The reactions I had while reading ranged from mildly amused to utter disbelief. The antics he describes sometimes sound a little exaggerated, but it makes it even more fun to imagine that they happened exactly as delineated. If I hadn't picked the book up in the biographies, I would swear it was fiction. I laughed my way through this book, and can't imagine anyone not having a similar reaction. Mr. Hall displays obvious talent as a writer - it's fresh and fun, and his characters (real people?!) are larger than life. He describes them, and then, if they deserve it, he properly eviscerates them. Yet all the while, you can't help but want to be his best friend! Anyway, if you're looking for some fun non-fiction, I'd suggest hitting up your local bookstore for this one. I can't remember non-fiction ever making me laugh this much.

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

    So good

    Laugh out loud funny. So relatable, must read for any current or former retail slave!

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  • Posted July 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Read As A Last Resort.

    It has its funny parts. But overall, not that captivating. If you're really bored... and it's free. Read it. But don't buy it. I made that mistake.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2009

    If you have ever worked in retail, this book is for you

    Freeman describes the perils of working in a high-end retail environment with such wit and humor that you won't be able to put this book down. A good friend of mine worked for a high end retailer in their China and Crystal Department--excuse me--Fine Gift Gallery, and would share horror stories similar to the ones that Hall shares. The characters and stories have to be true, because it would be impossible to make them up. Hall is a vivid and colorful storyteller. I read this gem in three days. A great gift for anyone who has had the endure the horrors of waiting on the public.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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