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Ramblings on Retail (Part 2 - FINALLY!)

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Firstly - I am sorry this one has taken so long for me to release…🙈

This thing happened, where I got SUPER preoccupied with what other people were thinking about my blog… What if someone reads this who I used to work with? What are my friends thinking? My family? My fellow yogi souls? The list continued…as did the over-thinking…😅

I gave myself a bit of time and space… and eventually, I came to realise that my experiences are uniquely my own. To share only if I want to. And I do…🙌

If my musings help just one person feel less alone in their thoughts; job done 🙏 So, here goes (again)…

Getting ready for work became a significant part of my day. Before this, I would throw my clothes on without much thought. I wore what I was in the mood for. Sure, I would look in the mirror - but just a quick glance. But at this point in my life, mirror-time was becoming a thing…🪞

It was before work. On the way to work - either by walking past glass-fronted shops or sometimes even going into a store on the way to work to use their mirror - just in case something disastrous had happened to my outfit during the 40-minute bus journey! Crazy, right? And then I was surrounded by mirrors for my entire shift.

Not only that, the people you worked with would comment on your appearance all the time.

“Those jeans look good on you.”

“Your hair is cute today.”

“You look like you’ve lost weight.”

The longer I worked there, the more pre-occupied with my appearance I became. Notably my weight. I vividly remember the store manager commenting on my improving figure, saying something like “those salads are working for you Posh” followed by a sly look…

The Store Manager's office was on the Men’s floor and after a few months, I noticed that me and a few of the other girls who worked there were treated slightly differently. We would be asked to go and run certain errands around town or get more leeway with shift patterns...

One example is that we had nicknames. “Posh” was mine. The link being Victoria Beckham (namesake) and the fact I was travelling from Sutton Coldfield - a seemingly ‘posh’ part of Birmingham 🤷‍♀️

There would be a shout from the office,

“Hey Posh!”

“Here take this.” A single note would be pulled from a wad of cash out of his pocket.

“Go buy me some lunch and get something for yourself too.” This was oten followed by an awkward hug…

And yes - you guessed it, I felt special 🤔

From my first shift, I was put on the Men’s floor. I started off folding T-shirts for shelf displays - one after the another - sometimes for my entire 4-hour shift 🥱 Each pile was checked and signed off by the floor supervisor. I witnessed piles being thrown up in the air because the logos were not quite aligned 😂

It’s funny when I think back now. But in reality, that’s the level of perfection we were all working towards. My supervisor would definitely know if I someone had used 3 pieces of tissue paper when folding as opposed to the standard 5 - you know to get the exact height for each pile of t-shirts 😵‍💫

USC was a store that housed top-end brands, from Lacoste tracksuits (yep - we’re in 2003 remember) to New Era snapback caps. My wages were often put right back into the till 🙄 I distinctly remember my tan-coloured, Timberland boots peeping out from my baggy Diesel jeans (neither of which I could afford), which I teamed with a cropped, black T-shirt that read ‘Jesus Is My Homeboy’…😅 as I stomped around the store to the backdrop of Franz Ferdinand 🤘

“Victoria, that’s blasphemous!” said my Mom.

“No Mom. It’s cool.” I replied.

It wasn’t long before I was put on the men’s changing room, where I seemed to have a knack for telling blokes they looked great in the latest skinny jeans. And to be fair - most of them did 🤩 I was 16, so as you can imagine, I had daily crushes! My chatiness definitely helped with sales, so I was soon trained up to be on the till - mainly to sell store cards 💳

Store cards aren’t really a thing now, but back then, pretty much everyone could get store credit. And it was a relatively easy sell. The average pair of jeans was £100 so with a 10% off promo for every store card sign up, you were saving decent cash. Some of the credit limits I got signed off were crazy, which often encouraged them to purchase more! The APR was something crazy like 30%, which I didn’t even have to disclose 🤯

At the time, I didn’t understand that I was getting people into debt. I was just told to hit my target whilst being reminded that subtle flirting always helped…😶

I suppose my point is, without knowing at the time, I was part of this strategy whereby the way I looked was being used to influence sales. Moreover, my own feelings towards the way I looked were slowly being eroded and influenced by the people and environment around me…🙁

To this day, I am not a fan of mirrors. Or photos - I usually pull a silly face or offer to be the person who takes it. Those of you who practice at the yoga cabin will know that there’s no mirrors in there 👀

Isn’t it interesting how we carry these things with us through life…🧳

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תגובה אחת

Hi Vicky, I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your blog posts. I only just discovered them after poking around the IAY site and got hooked reading them back to back! As a fellow (tomboy) millenial, I can not tell you how much I have related to your posts.... such a blast from the past with all those iconic moments (Spice Girls, sportswear, tamagotchi's), but also the awful focus on body image and being stick thin. I was never and will never, be built that way, but I remember so clearly hitting pubity and my mum (who is built that way) encouraging me to go on the Atkins diet because I had curves. I also spent summers…

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