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21 employees of large retail chains share their behind-the-scenes secrets.

21 employees of large retail chains share their behind-the-scenes secrets.


Many Americans spend a big portion of our lives at 'big box stores' like Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy. But though we might be able to navigate our local Target with our eyes closed (humblebrag), there's a lot going on behind-the-scenes at our favorite retail chain stores that we don't know about.

A bunch of big box store employees spilled the dirt on Reddit, and it's definitely eye-opening, even for someone like myself to attends Target as religiously as some people attend church.

Someone asked: 'Ex-Big Box Store (Target, Walmart, Best Buy) Employees, what’s some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that happens that the public doesn’t know about?' These 21 former employees spilled their secrets:

1.) From beautifulmutant:

In the early 1990's, there would be a before shift circle-jerk 'Pep' circle at Wal-Mart. People hold hands and recite pledges to be the best Wal-Mart employees. There may have been a prayer and / or a song also.

It ended with everyone holding hands and jumping in the air. I politely declined and was immediately suspect. I lasted 3 weeks. SOURCE: Wal-Mart in central Wisconsin.


2.) From bonniha:

Zellers around 2005-2007. Zellers was like a Canadian target or kmart that had a diner in it.

I worked in the clothing dept.

  • We once found a box long lost and buried in the back with girls dresses. They went on the shelves discounted, then discounted again etc. Idk if they eventually sold.

  • Would find the remains of shoplifted weight loss supplements in the plus size section all the time. I wonder if that still happens?

  • People would occasionally try to shoplift jeans, leave their old jeans on a hanger, but walk out with the size stickers still on them and get caught.

  • People shoplifted all the time, like constantly. Some would wait nonchalantly near the fitting room for the attendant to return clothes and go ham. We would find discarded tags EVERYWHERE. Employees did too, my supervisor was fired for it.

3.) From BebopBarbecue:

Market pantry (target brand) is literally delivered in Tyson boxes. You're getting Tyson chicken for a cheaper price than Tyson even though it's the same stuff.

4.) From she_rahrah:

There are often laws (depending which country you are in) that dictate how long a “promotional” price can be displayed before it becomes the “normal” retail price. Other comments mention inferior product being bought to sell at clearance prices but it can go beyond that.

Let’s say a toaster is “normally” $100. For the next two weeks, it’s on a half price sale. The two weeks after that, it’s buy one appliance, get another free. Two weeks after that, it’s buy two appliances, save 50%. That toaster’s retail price is $50, no matter how it’s worded.

5.) From Obscure_Teacher:

I worked at Supertarget a decade ago. Working in the warehouse was one of the most fun jobs I had in my young life. My boss used to walk around with a boxcutter and 'slip' next to bags of cookies and chips resulting in the product becoming 'defective' so it was up to us to 'dispose' of the product.

6.) From Jamesbondinator:

Worked at Target and if there is any price dispute at all with what's rung up and what is posted they will take the customers word for it (within reason) for example I worked in the food and we had meat for sale at 2.99/lb the sticker on the food said /lb but the signage in the aisle said '2.99'. A woman disputed it and got $40 of meat for 6 bucks.

7.) From _MKUltraViolet:

Many of the Black Friday deals are items made with inferior quality compared to the original product. They change the SKU number to protect themselves legally.

8.) From Arluza:

Stores like Kohl's or other discount retailers ship products with the'sales' price in the truck. 'Was 49.99 now 34.99' means it came to the store in the truck with a real retail price of 34.99. the big 'you saved 100 bucks shopping at Kohl's' at the receipt? That's BS. You paid the normal retail rate, and they add like 20-40% and claim you are 'saving' money.

9.) From bcm315:

Former JCPenney employee. They’ll take almost anything back. A lady came in wanting to return a pair of pants but didn’t have her receipt because she had bought them a few months prior.

She explained that she had worn and washed them several times since buying them but one of the legs got a small hole in it, and she “just didn’t think they should be tearing up already.” The manager accepted the return and gave her store credit.

10.) From cloudymecha:

Used to work at Toyrus years ago, I loved my coworkers. Everyone was a nerd for something (comic books, anime, card games, etc,) which made work really enjoyable.

But in addition to bad pricing year round, certain popular toys would experience 'price creep' starting in September/ October. Ex. EZ Bake Ovens were $40 in Sept., $60 by Nov. then during Black Friday and random weeks throughout the holidays would be 'on sale' for $40. Skylanders same thing, $10 normally, creeped to $12-13, and then 'on sale' for $10.

The kicker was they'd keep the prices high and then offer no 'sales' post-holidays so your gift cards wouldn't go as far. Prices usually went back to normal by April.

Also, at least my store was very 'customer is ALWAYS right' that 50% off a baby item coupon from Babysrus? Bring it to TRU and ask for a manager, you'll get the discount on a toy. Customer claims price tag is different? If it's within $10 don't question, just change it. If you didn't mind getting a little confrontational you could get some good deals.

11.) From Teksura:

Worked at Macy's for years. Macy's doesn't work commission anymore except in some very specific areas like Fine Jewelry and Shoes. But only if they work in that specific area. So one trick the management would do at my store to get around that was to just pull from other departments when they were short, instead of calling in someone who worked there and needed the hours. that way, they don't have to pay any commission.

Furthermore, employees are still required to make a certain dollar amount of sales. They use the same system they used back when commission was given to everyone. Used to be that if you exceeded a certain dollar amount in sales in a given day, you'd get a bonus.

But then they ditched that commission system at my store, but kept the goal number and just instead expected everyone to hit it all the time. This figure is supposedly based on 'sales made the same day the previous year', but it never really worked out that way and always came to a suspiciously round number. Failure to meet this number gets you written up.

Successfully meeting this number also gets you written up for not exceeding it by enough. The only way around that was to work in a department that consistently met the goals set for it.

They push this idea called 'MAGIC selling'. Basically it's nothing but a flowery way of saying 'Just provide good customer service'.

But they love talking about it like it's some amazing, innovative idea to Meet your customer, greeting them properly, Ask questions to figure out what you can help them with, Give them options and advice, Inspire them to buy more (in plain english, that just means upselling), and Celebrate the purchase with them before they leave.

It's really not, it's just normal customer service really. But the management thinks it is actual magic and can somehow cause someone working in the watch department for 4 hours on a day when nobody comes into the area to just create $300 worth of sales out of customers who are literally not even present.

The issue is the management has their own goals set for their departments, and they get in trouble if the department doesn't meet the goals. So the shit falls down and if the arbitrary goals aren't met their training is to ride your ass and actually prevent you from doing your job so they can tell you off for not doing your job well enough for their liking.

12.) From jackstar1107:

This is probably common sense, but just in case: You really should probably wash your new clothes before wearing them. I spent a year doing overnights at Target in softlines (the backroom aisles of clothing, shoes, and baby), and when I'd wash my hands at the end of the shift, the water would truly be deep charcoal gray.

13.) From Indy_Photographer:

I’ve worked at a few of them.

Kay’s: The corporate complaints line will do just about anything to keep from getting bad PR. The employees generally can’t do anything other than stand there and recite company policy, so don’t get mad at them, just call corporate. Also the “special buys” for $24.99/$19.99 aren’t pieces they normally carry, they are made specifically for that event, they don’t retail normally for $80.

Macy’s: A majority of the stock is on the floor at any given point in time (at least where I worked). Arguing with the employee to check the back normally results in a few seconds of peace and quiet in the stock room.

Target: If they have a mobile phone department chances are the person in the black shirt has no clue what’s going on in the rest of the store. They are there as a vendor to sell phones and have little to no cross training. Ya that’s the big ones.

14.) From Vizaughh:

I framed pictures at Hobby Lobby for a while. The Christmas crunch is a true thing. I would work through nights, on Sundays, and even up through Christmas Eve to get your pictures finished.

I tried really hard to make sure everyone had their gift on but at a certain point, it's closing time on December 23rd, there are 300 orders in line ahead of you, and I honestly don't care how important your particular thing no guarantees.

Know who will guarantee your order is completed on time? A discreet Andrew Jackson. People tip a lot in those gigs and they get treated better.

15.) From CrazyCatLushie:

Walmart regularly hires people to work full-time hours but calls them part-time so they don’t have to give them benefits. They say you’ll be working 25ish hours per week and then book you for 40 and say it’s “temporary”. It’s not.

They also don’t care if you’re being harassed. I had a fellow employee threaten to run me down in the back room with a walker-stacker machine and when I told management, they laughed in my face. The woman who threatened me had a history of doing it to new employees.

16.) From bezosdivorcelawyer:

When you ask us to double check the back and we go? We're just sitting on a box looking at our phones for a few minutes before coming back out. We know it's not back there.

Also, you think you got away with shoplifting from Target? They saw. Don't make a habit of it. Target waits until you've stolen enough (~$500) and then calls the police and gets you charged with an actual crime.

17.) From blakebray:

The NARC population at Walmart is just as big as ever. We have them all over the electronics and automotive sections. Look for anyone that gives off the 'middle age divorced dad' vibe. Huge giveaway is also when they linger but have empty carts. I've heard of other locations employing younger people to play their NARCS, but if you know what to look for they're impossible to miss.

18.) From zerbey:

I have various family who work at Wal-Mart. They have a customer satisfaction guarantee and will return just about anything within reason, even well past the warranty. The magic words are 'That's it, I'm calling 1-800-WALMART' if you are being given a hard time as they will nearly always override the store.

Just learned this yesterday whilst meeting my at Target. When you press the button summoning help they have 45 seconds to respond and an automated call goes out to all two-way radios 'Fast service needed in , who is responding?'. If they don't respond in time, head office is informed.

Stores are judged harshly if too many calls time out. So please, be nice to the flustered looking team member who helps you, they may have literally ran from the other end of the store.

19.) From Bellstjohn:

Current team member at Target. All cameras in the store have facial recognition and at my store we usually have a good bit of security walking around pretending to shop. Oh and here is a little known tip for everyone, yelling and making a scene at guest services does not help when we deny a return (which we have the option of denying for any reason)

20.) From ViolentEastCoastCity:

I worked as a manager in training at Target for a Summer about ten years ago. The most interesting stuff was in Loss Prevention. There’s usually an undercover person in the store shopping.

They always profile women with bags and watch them on cameras. There was an unbroken line of cameras from the exits to the high end electronics (at the time, it was iPods). Whitening strips and diabetic test strips were heavily monitored because of their size to price ratio.

21.) From gil_beard:

I worked at Wal-Mart for a year back in the day. They spent an insane amount of money and time keeping the sales floor clean and organized. The back room on the other hand was a hoarders dream. It was a room about the size of a small gymnasium and it was just piled to the roof with boxes and merchandise going back to the 90’s. Plus it stunk to high heaven from the rotted food and the dead rats.

Sources: Reddit
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