Inside the Closet: A Glimpse Behind the Scenes of Working in a Lingerie Shop

I’ve only been working at my new retail job for a few weeks, but I’ve already had the chance to meet a BUNCH of interesting characters. It’s not always fun, meeting these strange new personalities, but at least it keeps things interesting. In order to keep myself from going completely crazy, I’ve started cataloging these personality types in my mind, and whenever I meet a new one, I add him or her to the list. I thought I’d share that list with you now.

**DISCLAIMER: The names of the people listed below have been changed/omitted to protect their identities. All character types may or may not be are definitely based on real people (who am I kidding?…I can’t make this stuff up!).**

“Did somebody say ‘SALE’?!”

The Chipper Chipmunk:  You know the type. She is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at all of the worst possible times. She is DEFINITELY a morning person! She is never EVER in a bad mood, and she can talk so fast for so long that you wonder how she manages to breathe. With a Chipper Chipmunk, everything is just so EXCITING!!!! I have the grave misfortune of working with a Chipper Chipmunk manager. (Never fear…she’s not the only manager. She’s only on duty sometimes.) And while the sound of her voice does make me want to stick something sharp in my ear, I really think she’s found her calling, working at this lingerie store. She can talk anyone into buying a $65 bra so fast they don’t even realize what they’ve done until ten minutes after leaving the cash register. It’s that endlessly chipper chatter–it tends to leave people in a bit of a daze, and they answer with, “Huh? What’? Umm….sure. Okay,” without even realizing what they’ve just agreed to. She’s also exceptionally skilled at barking out orders at the people on staff without seeming overtly unpleasant. “Uh oh, ladies…I see some panties that need folding!” she’ll exclaim in a sing-song voice, as if this is a task to look forward to. Or how about, “Hey, I went ahead and scheduled you for an extra shift on Sunday night! Aren’t you excited? This is gonna be SO MUCH FUN!!!

“You need me to explain it to you again?”

The Know-It-All: She’s been working at this store for SO many years, and it’s understandable that you haven’t (and probably will never) reach her level of expertise. Because working in an upscale lingerie shop is a really REALLY tough job–not something that the average college graduate can handle. For example, the other day I was told to scrunch the sleeves on all of the hoodie sweatshirts hanging on a wall display. It was okay that I didn’t realize that all front-facing sweatshirts needed to have scrunched sleeves (at a standardized length, of course) because I was new at this. Silly me, I began rolling up the sleeves on the first hoodie, and Know-it-All instantly ran over to comment on my work. “Um….you’re doing that wrong,” she says. I assume she must be joking, but I turn around and see that the grave look on her face indicates otherwise. She lays a tender hand on my shoulder and says, “Here sweetie, let me teach you the art of scrunching.” I step out of her way and say, “Oh, of course. I didn’t realize that there was an art to it.” She takes my sarcasm for sincerity and says, “That’s okay! Most people wouldn’t realize that. But I’ve been here for a long, long time, and I’ve mastered it. See, what you were doing was rolling the sleeve. This is how you scrunch.” She demonstrates what looks to be almost exactly what I had been doing a few minutes earlier, and gives me an expectant look. What does she want? Oh! I know. “Um…thank you?” I say. And with a final tilt of the head and a sympathetic pat on my shoulder, she walks away. Her scrunched sleeve immediately unfurls itself. I check to make sure she’s not looking, and I roll it back up again.

“This is my natural, everyday look.”

Malibu Barbie: Her makeup resembles some sort of ancient Native American war paint more than any cosmetic enhancement. You look once, glance back a second time, and rub your eyes to make sure you’re seeing clearly….and it’s still there. Can she really be wearing that much makeup on purpose? Does she have any idea what she looks like to the average, unsuspecting passerby? It’s almost enough to cause a car accident. Warning: These types of women will often also be sporting one or more of the following: faux fur accessories, hair carefully hairsprayed/spackled into some sort of a hump, an orangey-bronze spray tan, tights worn as pants, ridiculously fluffy or sparkly Ugg boots, and occasionally, a very tiny dog residing in a very expensive purse. 

“I love browsing through lingerie stores on the weekends.”

Skanky Guy: Why is it, I wonder, that a guy shopping around in a lingerie store thinks he’s found a good place to hit on women? Most of the women in the shop buying sexy negligees already have a man whom they are buying for, and most of the men in the shop buying sexy negligees already have a woman whom they are buying for. So in theory, the guy who is hitting on women at the lingerie shop is either: a) a lone creeper who goes into underwear stores for the sole purpose of watching the women browse and using his pickup lines on them or b) a guy who is shopping for his wife or girlfriend, but he gets a little *ahem* distracted before he reaches the cash register. The other day I saw two twenty-something-year-old guys wandering around the store, looking very out of place, until they found my pretty friend and co-worker at the panty bar straightening and folding the thongs. “Do you guys need help with anything?” she asks in a cheery, professional voice. “Uh….” Skanky Guy #1 chuckles nervously, “We’re here for the panty party…hehe.” (Now, granted, this would have been extremely creepy if we didn’t have a large banner in the front window welcoming customers to the “7 pairs for $26 Panty Party,” but it was still obvious that these guys weren’t actually shopping for underwear.) He surreptitiously elbows Skanky Guy #2  in the ribs. “Uh, yeah! And we’re here with our girlfriends. They’re around here somewhere,” his friend chimes in, vaguely glancing around the room in a feeble attempt to locate his girlfriend. My friend informs them of our special discount offer, giving them the benefit of the doubt and pretending that they are serious shoppers. However, when she indicates the table full panties in the next room that are on sale, they stay put and decide to chat with her instead. “So,” Skanky Guy #1 says, casually leaning on the panty bar with one elbow, “Are you a college student?” Skanky Guy #2 chimes in with his questions as well, and they both seem to be deeply fascinated with my friend for the next ten minutes. Finally, she asks, “Didn’t you say your girlfriends are here? Where are they? Maybe I can help them find what they’re looking for…” Skanky Guy #1 and #2 are forced to retreat, making lame excuses about how their girls are probably finding everything just fine without any help. I can’t keep myself from rolling my eyes at them, but she seems unfazed. Apparently this happens to her quite often.

We also had a visit from Creepy Stalker Guy just last week. Creepy Stalker Guy was an overweight man, perhaps in his early forties, and he came in to return a lacy red negligee/garter belt getup that he’d bought a few weeks ago. I offered to take care of the return for him, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the main reason he was here. “Is Cindy** here by any chance?” he asks me. I check, and see that she is not. “What about Tricia**?” he continues. He rattles off the names of five other favorite store employees, but we are a pretty large store, and none of those girls are on the clock at the moment. He finally gives up and hands me his return, but the tags have already been removed from the clothing (I don’t want to ask why), and he has no receipt, so I am forced to call a manager over to assist him. As she works on retrieving his transaction from the computer database, he asks her several questions about the first salesgirl he was hoping to see tonight, Cindy.

“You know…” he begins, “I was just really taken with Cindy when I first met her. She is just really an outstanding girl.”

“Yeah, she’s a sweet girl,” the manager affirms with a smile.

“I was really just so struck by her when I saw her last time I was here, I was hoping to get her number this time. Do you know her phone number?”

“I’m sorry, sir. We can’t release any personal contact information about any of our employees,” she says, still smiling politely.

“Yeah, I figured that,” he admitted bashfully. “That’s why I was really hoping she might be here tonight. Hey! You’re friends with her! Let me get your opinion. If I were to ask her out, what do you think she would say? Like….do you think I’m her type?”

I don’t know how my manager keeps a straight face during this whole interaction, but she remains really professional the entire time. “Well…I don’t really know Cindy’s ‘type.’ You would probably have to ask her,” she replies.

“When do you think Cindy will be in again? Can you tell me her schedule?” he persists.

I have to walk away at this point. I simply cannot keep it together! I can distantly hear my manager smoothly explaining that Cindy really only works a couple of hours a week because she has a second job, so the chances of  just running into her at the store are pretty slim. She adds that the schedule for the following weeks has not been written yet. It is a lie, but one that Creepy Stalker Guy will probably believe.

Another customer is waiting at the cash wrap, so I am forced to return and try to endure Creepy Guy’s antics with a straight face again. When I arrive at the register, I overhear him debating his return.

“You see,” he explains, “I actually bought this for a woman who I was dating a couple of weeks ago. But we’ve broken up now. Which is why I was thinking about asking out Cindy. Do you think I should just keep this outfit…you know…for the next girl who comes along?”

I ducked under the counter to retrieve a shopping bag, unable to keep the horrified expression from my face. Seriously?! I’m sure, Creepy Stalker Guy, that the next girlfriend you have will really appreciate the fact that you have a negligee/garter belt combo already waiting for her in your bedroom closet, in exactly the wrong size, with the price tags already removed. Girls LOVE that sort of thing.

Thankfully, he ended up returning the items and leaving the store with a merchandise credit. Unfortunately, that means that he will be back at some point to spend it. I’m so glad I’m not Cindy.

Categories: Retail, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Inside the Closet: A Glimpse Behind the Scenes of Working in a Lingerie Shop

  1. Tammy

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! I love it!! Luckily, when I was at VS I worked at a really teeny tiny store… And none of my managers were “Chipper Chipmunks” while the majority of our customers were very average 20-30 somethings shopping the 5 for $25 tables…. although aren’t they 5 for $27 now???

    • They are actually 7 for $26 for five days only! Then they go back to being 5 for $26. I’m just glad that I don’t have to work with Chipper Chipmunk every day! She is always extra caffeinated!

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