Friday, December 12, 2008

The Customer is Always Wrong - Jeff Martin (Editor)


~~~~~~The Retail Chronicles~~~~~

Well this seems like an appropriate time to post this review. The countdown is on ...only twelve shopping days left until Christmas......

The Customer is Always Wrong, from Soft Skull Press, 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."

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.

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 occurrences. However there was good as well, but there aren't that many of those kind of 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.......

7 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I've worked in retail, too, and could probably write a few stories of my own. This sounds like fun.

Anna said...

My husband worked for 5 years in retail, and he's so happy he recently got out! The stories he would tell me...I just shake my head at the idiocy of some people! Sounds like an interesting book. If my hubby was a reader, I'd get it for him.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Ladytink_534 said...

I can honestly say that once you have "served the public" you'll almost always be a little nicer to those people later on down the line.

Hagelrat said...

sounds fun.

Allison said...

The stories I could tell you working customer service for the airlines!! and other retail jobs I've had...sounds like an interesting book..will have to check it out!

Laura said...

This one sounds fun, I'll add it to my list to read. Thanks!

cali said...

This sounds great. A year ago, I owned a small bookstore and lordy, I jumped into that with NO retail experience. I have some stories of my own.