Book: Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail
Author: Caitlin Kelly
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
Date To Be Published: April 14th, 2011
Source: Uncorrected galley from netgalley.com
Star Rating: 4 out of 5
This was an interesting read about the trials and tribulations of not just one women but many people trying to make it in the dog-eat-dog world of retail during the recession. Caitlin Kelly fed up with the lack of writing gigs coming her way decides to head for the comfort of a job working part-time at The North Face ready for a steady paycheck.
Kelly’s experiences really helped to show just how much we forget all the hard work for very little the people behind the cash wrap go through just to make a paycheck. She talks about crowded storerooms, inadequate lightning, space, equipment and people that happens not only in her store but retail environments everywhere and really makes you feel it, even if you have never experienced it before. All this frustrates her because how are you to create positive shopping environment when you can’t quickly get to the product or so short-staffed you only have a short time to dedicate to the customer.
Kelly also peppers the book with interesting facts covering all aspects in the retail world; from tidbits about working conditions in many stores, discusses the turnover rate compared to pay, frustrations stemming from the recession and many more. Every fact she brings up really helps to bring home the fact that the ones who serve us behind the counter are often giving the short end of the stick, they help make our world go round.
I am only too familiar with the retail world although unlike Kelly I could only handle it for no more than a few weeks. I just hated being just a cog in the machine, the second I clipped on my name tag and strolled through the aisles I just felt my identity slipping away. Kelly first enjoyed it but soon it just started dragging her down. The environments retailers often create are just not one that creates a positive mental vibe. From both my experience and from reading her book I feel like I am more contentious of how I am treating the person behind the cash register or roaming the aisles. Even if for just a brief period I want to help brighten their dull day, most of them I know don’t really want to be there but it is all they can get to help support their families.
This book may not be for anyone but if you want a little expose on the knitty-gritty of the retail world, pick up this book. Kelly presents her frustrations in a way that never feels like she is just a whiney but truly wanting to express her feelings. This book would be great for a business major or anybody interesting in how every piece of a business works especially those who own or manage a place of business. Even though this book shows the dirtier side of working retail it could even be beneficial for a recent high school grade or even their parents. I can only hope that some sort of lesson can be taken from this book that can help us work on creating a safer, happier and less detached working environment.