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Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store Paperback – Oct 18 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media; Reprint edition (Oct. 18 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440505772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440505775
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #388,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

About the Author

Freeman Hall began slaving in retail at the age of twenty at Macy's. His most notable experience was with specialty clothing store Nordstrom, where he spent fifteen years as an award-winning handbag manager and salesperson. In 2007, he created the popular "Retail Hell Underground" blog and videos, generating a satirical sounding board for retail slaves worldwide.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By discordkitty on Feb. 10 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a fellow retail slave, I truly appreciated this book. Many examples of customer types could have been pulled out of my own experiences - and I don't even work in a department store or somewhere that sells purses/clothes etc. Freeman writes in a way that vividly describes the situations - to the point where you are pulled in and feel as if you are there - and invites you into his world. You feel more like a friend and confidant than just the reader of his book. If only entitled customers everywhere would read this book and realize the errors of their way - but of course nothing like that will ever happen. For now, we console each other from behind the counter and share in tales of the truly strange customers we deal with. No one does this better than Freeman Hall - he has me wanting to plow through and read the book until the end but also savor it so doesn't end too quickly. I wish there was another book following this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By discordkitty on Feb. 6 2011
Format: Paperback
As a fellow retail slave, I truly appreciated this book. Many examples of customer types could have been pulled out of my own experiences - and I don't even work in a department store or somewhere that sells purses/clothes etc. Freeman writes in a way that vividly describes the situations - to the point where you are pulled in and feel as if you are there - and invites you into his world. You feel more like a friend and confidant than just the reader of his book. If only entitled customers everywhere would read this book and realize the errors of their way - but of course nothing like that will ever happen. For now, we console each other from behind the counter and share in tales of the truly strange customers we deal with. No one does this better than Freeman Hall - he has me wanting to plow through and read the book until the end but also savor it so doesn't end too quickly. I wish there was another book following this one!
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Format: Paperback
This is a fun and easy read. Mr. Freeman Hall is honest and his opinions and perspectives are conveyed in a hilarious, yet true-to-life way. This book had many laughable moments inserted in what are real life experiences of a person working in retail. A highly recommended read!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By carole seeley on Sept. 30 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved it!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 144 reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Funny, and Tragic Sept. 16 2009
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Freeman Hall spent 15 years as a handbag (not 'purse') salesperson at Nordstrom's. His "Retail Hell" summarizes those years in a funny and undoubtedly accurate manner - bosses, co-workers, and customers, as well as the orientation rituals aer covered. He originally got into retail sales following his father and grandfather; coveting the employee discount and time to write his dreamed-of "Million-Dollar Screenplay" were other factors. Handbags, however, were not his choice - being gay, Hall tells us his preference was 'measuring trouser inseams," but there were no openings and the store wanted to try a male in the handbag department.

The book opens with a customer demanding a last minute of the day return of an obviously used $2,000 handbag by a 'customer' that Freeman remembers is not the one who bought it. On the other side, however, he's pressed by customer-service focused manager that directs him to accept the return, which also docks his commissions. Unfortunately, this farce is repeated a number of times throughout the book, cheating both the salespeople and the store.

Then Hall flashes back to his first day on the job - orientation. Loads of corporate H.R. baloney (eg. emphasizing "How key," "How important employees are," all the while one realizes from other presentations on rules that you're expendable, disposable, and replaceable. The conflict is most obvious between the Employee Handbook (1 rule - You're in Charge), vs. the reality that there is a long list of expectations that must be met - else termination.

Then it's onto the sales floor the next day, learning handbag lingo (Lesson One: They're 'handbags,' not 'purses'), studying the Handbag Guide, and trying to also understand the various handbag materials - all while answering the phone, dealing with more returns, serving customers at the counter, etc. Then we read of the ongoing conflict between the 'Demon Squad' (fellow salespeople who steal sales from others) and the 'Handbag Angels' that are honest and helpful. Hall likens the conflict between salespeople at times to scenes out of a war movie.

Morning pep rallies are another topic - lots of cheers (never loud enough), speeches about smiles, etc.; I though only Wal-Mart had those crazy get-togethers!

Hall also had his most memorable customers, aside from the thieves continually 'returning' merchandise. These included one super-customer buying thousands of dollars of merchandise at a time, a 'stalker' who continually called on the phone wanting answers to detailed questions and special help but never coming in to buy, and the 'lookey-loos' who also wasted time.

Near the end of "Retail Hell" Hall is warned by management that his sales were below target for two months (he contends due to fraudulent returns), then one month later he is selected for the quarterly Service Superstar Award for having the most complementary letters in the store written about him. (Makes you suspect, like W. Edwards Deming pointed out decades earlier, that management awards, etc. are a farce. Don't believe it - look at the award plaques that are displayed. Often a random pattern, especially at fast-food places, usually dying out after several years; at other locations (eg. [...]) - being 'fastest checker' also means providing the least satisfying customer experience.

Sandwiched into the book here and there are a couple of mini-screenplays depicting activity just covered in the narrative. Cleverly done.

Personally, I don't know how Hall kept at it, or why. He clearly has a lot of talent that was mostly wasted - how many other wasted lives are out there?
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Retail Hell is hilarious and true! July 21 2011
By Tyler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read the comments from the critics on here and found them completely full of crap. They whine and moan about how this Freeman guy shouldn't be going on and on about his job and crap like that, but I've read half the book so far and as a Retail employee with more than 40 months of experience to the present day, I kept exclaiming things like, "Oh, I know how that feels!" and also "I remember a customer acting just like that!" not to mention, "My bosses act the same way and they can never get me to do those stupid morning-meeting cheers!" Freeman is excellent in describing his day-to-day experiences, especially with a personal shopper who throws money around as if it was nothing to her and swears like a hardened Navy sailor, not to mention the idiot manager that rags on him constantly saying, "They're HANDBAGS, not PURSES!"

The critics clearly do not have a job in Retail and some are probably the same customers who act all crappy and jerky in stores to employees just like Freeman. I don't understand how someone could pay as high as $800-$2000 for a silly old handbag, but I definitely understand how they walk all over you as if they own the place just because they get to spend money like that! The only ones who are fit to judge this book as critics are ones that have worked Retail themselves, and this book brings a lot of laughs! It takes a lot for a guy like Freeman to put in the years of Retail like he did, putting his dreams on hold to do so, and even having to suffer the agony of attending stupid conference meetings on his DAY OFF!!! When I read about him having to get up early in the morning to do so, I kept thinking, "My company doesn't pay ME enough to attend their stupid meetings on my day off! No way in hell could I do that!"

But Freeman certainly did, and his experiences have made quite the seller! I'd recommend this book to ANY Retail employee I know and don't know, since this book would certainly make all of them think, "Yup, I remember that happening to me!" The only ones who could truly understand this book are the ones who HAVE BEEN or ARE wage-slaves, making a living to impress the average bonehead customer WHO IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!!!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Loved it! Sept. 2 2009
By Tina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Congratulations Freeeeeeemmaaaannn, you have managed to make me totally scared of the retail world - and, as a client, I will be doubly careful with the people behind the counters from now on.

I loved this book. It was extremely funny and author Freeman Hall has a wonderful way of telling the story. I have to say that Freeman is kind of a major pain in the derriere himself and I can just imagine having to come face to face with him behind the counter. He comes across as extremely sarcastic and frankly, a bit of a snob, but this only adds to the "fun" factor in the storytelling.

I laughed when I read about the (what feels like) million of stairs he and his fellow co-workers had to use everytime they entered and left the store. The crazy, over the top enthusiasm from the store managers was also hilarious (although I can just imagine how annoying it must be to have this woman giving orders).

This book, while taking a funny and bitting look at our love of retailing and spending, spending (how crazy is it to spend so much money on a handbag? although I have done it myself!!!), I could not help but also feel some sadness. This book also shows us just what is wrong (in part) with society right now - spending too much money on our "wants", working at jobs we don't like, people disrespecting each other and big corporations trying to "brainwash" us.

However, I am being way too serious here, because this book is a delicious insight into what it is like to be on the "other" side of the counter and I loved every minute of it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Retail-icious! Oct. 14 2009
By Leyla Mutlu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I can relate to working in retail, for a horrific seven long years and I must say, he had it a lot worse than I did! I hope people who DON'T work in retail read this book and have a new found sense of respect for us Retail Slaves. I hope they read it and say "Oh my God, it really does suck working in retail, maybe I will treat the associates better!" But we all know that won't happen ;) Nonetheless, Freeman Hall's book is AMAZING to say the least. I laughed so hard! I hope he writes more :) And I agree with Pamela, it SHOULD be a movie, wouldn't it be a hilarious movie!? Thanks for being the voice for all Retail Slaves around the world :)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Unfinished Feb. 16 2014
By C. MacKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Usually I complete reading a book....but not this one. It was dull and repetitive. The notion that all employees had to climb eight flights of stairs before every shift was outrageous, impossible to believe and highly distracting. Only people who worked extensively in retail might be interested in this book. Frankly, I purchased this book because I thought Freeman Hall a pseudonym... and thought he went to Conn College (where Freeman is a dorm). Wrong!


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