Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Confessions from Beauty Retail...

Hey everyone! As I'm sure most of you know, I work in beauty retail. I can't say where, exactly.. but if that orange picture up there gives you any clues.. I'm sure you can figure it out.

I've been debating writing this post for a while, but I'm actually not going to shine a bad light on my employer. I see all of these "Secrets of the Makeup Counter" articles that make us out to be demon bitches and they frustrate me, because they're not accurate to my experience at all. 

I want to kind of break down that customer/employee barrier today and tell you what it's like at my work. Now remember that I can only speak for my company, and not even all stores within the same company operate the same. But based on my job experience, this is what I've learned:
  1. Upselling isn't big in my store. I'm not told to sell you the most expensive product first. Instead, I'm told to ask how much you're willing to spend and work within that range. I'm also not told to tack extra products on to your purchase, but if we're out of something you wanted then I am supposed to offer you a similar product. We want you to leave happy, not broke and with buyer's remorse.
  2. I know the all black clothing can be intimidating, but I'm not here to judge or scare you. I genuinely want to help you find products that will work for you. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to talk makeup with people all day long! I love sharing my favorite products, so please don't be scared to ask for help. It's really what I'm here for.
  3. On the flip side, please also realize that I am still human. There are days where I wake up late or have to clean up cat puke in 7 different spots while I'm trying to get ready, so I may have minimal makeup and less than stellar hair. However, I do still have feelings, too.. and your open judgments of my appearance can (and do) sometimes hurt my feelings.
  4. I'm a nice person, and I don't mind helping you out. But my store has policies that I have to abide by. Yes, half the store doesn't qualify for the coupons. I know, it sucks. But that's because those companies have it written into their contracts that allow us to sell their products. I'm not trying to screw you out of money.. the computer won't take the coupon even if I scan it.. and if I manually override it, I could get in big trouble. I'm all for helping you out, but not at the detriment of my job.
  5. I'm always going to be honest with you. If I know we get a specific product returned all the time, I'm going to tell you before you buy it. I'd rather dash your hopes and dreams than tell you it's "the bestest thing EVERRRRR!!" and know that you'll just return it in three days when it breaks.
  6. You can TOTALLY return stuff even if you've used it. Our return policy is 60 days, but you've got to have everything that came with it (free gifts included). My location requires that the product still be 3/4 of the way full when you return it, but I think that's still pretty lenient. We want you to love what you buy. If something's not working for you, let us find something else that will.
  7. I am not legally allowed to advise you on boxed hair color. There are a couple of reasons: Namely, I'm not a chemist and have no training on the chemicals. Also, there's no telling what you've done to your hair in the past, and everyone's hair is different.
  8. Unfortunately, I can't just give you samples. 99% of ours are a free gift with purchase, and they are actually a part of our inventory and have to be scanned out with the product. If not, it can fall back on us. And if the security camera footage gets pulled and we're found to be passing out product samples like candy, we would get in trouble. We're not cool like Sephora, and we don't make samples for you. I'm actually telling you the truth when I tell you I don't have any that I can give you. Want to know the BEST way to get samples? Be awesome and appreciative. If you make my day a little bit brighter, I'll definitely hook you up when I can!
  9. Items that aren't on the shelf really are out of stock 9/10 times. We have a VERY limited inventory of surplus stock in the back. If I tell you it won't come in til Tuesday, it's pointless to keep after me to "just go look in the back." I do truck every week, I know what we did and didn't get, and I'm only going to go look if I legitimately think we have it. Otherwise, I'd rather spend the time calling another store to find the product for you.
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And there you have it! Some confessions from the other side of beauty retail.. were they things that you suspected, or did some take you by surprise? I know sometimes it's easy to forget that employees of stores are actually people, too.. especially if you've never worked a retail job.

Oddly enough, I have a love/hate relationship with retail. While I could never do clothing retail again if my life depended on it, I have a strange love of working with cosmetics. Granted, I don't think I'd like working at a department store makeup counter, but I'm actually very happy with the company I work for now. I get to give great guest service, and spend all day talking about makeup and hair products! Plus, my coworkers totally appreciate my nail art every time I have a new mani.. and what blogger wouldn't love that?! ;)


  1. Oh retail... I hate retail but it's pretty much all I know so I feel like I'm stuck in it. Thanks for the tips :-) 

  2. Mrs. Burnie SamoszewskiMarch 21, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Wow, you amaze me and wanted you to know that I appreciate your truthfulness..Thank you so much for sharing.. I have a even greater respect for the girls at the cosmetic counters...