Tracey Jackson

Jun 27 2017 | Comments


As most people are aware retail in the country may not be dying, but it’s certainly on life support. People are shopping.  Not me.

I’m doing well, thank you all for asking. Pretty much on track here, half way into month two of #traceystopsshopping. Basically, no slip ups. OK, some make- up but just a little bit. Nothing to write home about or a blog about .

Each day I have new insights. I’m keeping a journal and have much to say. But today what is on my mind is not about my shopping and purging but the experience of shopping and why people are not in the stores.

Stores are closing right and left, malls, Mom and Pops, big box chains and neighborhood institutions. Which would tell me people need jobs in retail.  In fact, here is a little fact for you.

In its annual report on wages and occupational employment, the BLS found that 4.6 million Americans worked in retail sales while 3.4 million more worked as cashiers, making up almost six percent of total U.S. employment.

That is a big number.  So, with stores closing you would think people who work behind the cash register and in stores would –

  1. a) be on their game
  2. b) and stores the that are open would make sure the people they have working there are ready, willing and able.

Yesterday I needed a few things at Duane Reade. For those of you not in NYC or a place with Duane Reades, they are like Walgreens or Shop Rite. CVS.  You get the picture.

Anyway, I go in with my list. The one I do not deviate from. Yesterday my list was Extra Strength Tylenol, (nobody write in and tell me it’s bad for me, I love the stuff) Gummy Bear Vitamin D’s for Lucy, (Lucky, she doesn’t read these) Q-Tips and eye drops.

While I was searching for the eye drops in the empty bottom floor of the store, a woman was desperately seeking some item and plaintively asked me if I had seen anybody who worked there who might help her. I had to admit I hadn’t and I was unable to help her. There was not even a pharmacist behind the pharmacy counter and it was only 4:30 PM.

Leaving her to roam and moan in the bowels of Duane Reade I took my items to the checkout line where there were no less than 15 people and  only one cashier; Who looked like she was a finalist in the who can ring up items the slowest competition.

I caught her eye.  My look said, who knows how she interpreted it, it was meant to say how can you the only one here and can you speed it up. This silent exchange only made her go slower.

I waited five minutes in which time she took care of one customer so I gave up.  I took my items and I did the thing you are not supposed to do.  I did not put them back from whence they came.  I just left them in a neat little row by the Doritos and  left.

Look if they are not going to make my life easier which they are supposedly there to do, then I’m not making theirs easier.

And I am the one in the dressing room who leaves everything on the hangers in perfect order when I am done trying them on. I do not leave them in a pile on the floor. I say that so you know it’s not my way to make sales people’s lives any more difficult.

Look the pay is shitty, it’s like on average 22K a year and my guess is no benefits. So, there is no incentive for doing a great job as the upward mobility in that job is non-existent.

So, it’s a lose- lose situation.  For them and for the customer.

After I left my items in the Dorito section I went home, turned on the news, got my computer and ordered everything from Amazon Prime and it will all be here tomorrow.

If I had really needed any of it I would have had to stick it out or go to another Duane Reade they have one across the street, another problem with these chains they are all in little bunches next to each other.

But in this world where Amazon and the internet are eating everything up you’d think they would try harder.

But they don’t and it doesn’t look like anyone is in any danger of changing things.

I find this upsetting.  I like the store culture. I like interacting with people. I like the process and the energy.  I don’t want to live on my computer and I hate seeing store after store close down. I hate seeing jobs disappear even if they are not high paying, they are entry level and for many people better than nothing.

Every block in New York is littered with empty spaces with for rent signs. This means many jobs lost in many areas, from window washers, to delivery people, cleaning people, florists, in many cases guards and stock room people. The trickle down is more of a river than a trickle.

On my walk home tonight in just a two block segment there were seven for lease signs.

Until landlords stop being greedy and lower their rents and make it possible for shops to remain open and the owners of the stores make sure their employers are polite and efficient I guess the world will continue to be Jeff Bezos for the taking.



  • Greedy landlords killed Columbus Avenue in the 80’s. No lessons learned.
    I hang up all the clothes in the dressing room too. 🙂

  • It is really sad to see all those stores close and the loss of jobs. I love the whole experience of shopping and the exchanges with sales people. Shopping online while convenient is isolating. I am afraid technology is taking over everything. Hopefully Mr. Bezos will do some good with all his profits.

  • Tanis

    And we, the consumer, need to find more patience.

  • Karen Moline

    I boycott the CVS nearest to me as they got rid of the cashiers and make you check yourself out. Everyone complains but it’s a corporate decision. The CVS a few blocks away is bigger and has cashiers. It’s ludicrous.

  • I know. I always screw up when I have to check out myself, I would make a lousy cashier. But people need those jobs. And of course it’s corporate but it’s wrong. They are doing away with half the jobs at McDonalds. Those are great entry level jobs for kids and young people. Not everyone can be a CEO and it’s all screwed up.

  • On that I might disagree. Service business is supposed to mean service. And people once took pride in their jobs no matter what they were. Now everyone thinks they should be a Kardashian and all jobs are menial. And many are, but all are important. And many a stockboy has risen to be CEO. If you choose to go into the service business then you need to do it well, do it with a smile or move on. It”s like me saying the publisher has to be patient if Im late on a book or the producer needs to be patient if Im late on a draft. No way. I have a job to do – I have to do it according to the rules, and I need to be efficient they do not need to be patient. I think there in lies one of the many problems. and I almost always agree with you. But that is what is food about open forums we start conversations and you are great about chiming in and I really appreciate that Tanis. oxo

  • Look at Bleecker and SoHo and everywhere else around town. You have the mind of a business woman I do not, but I don’t understand how an empty store with no rent is a better choice than a rented store with money coming in. I just don’t get that.

  • I’m all business and I don’t get it either.

  • nancy clausen

    I do not go to any store where there are not cashiers or salespeople and that included nm which I love–but wow the salesperson that does not offer to help me. I do not pump gas nor do I self check-out at the grocery store. All these places have allowed machines to replace workers and I am so against that.