All Articles Tagged "retail"

Working In Retail Really Is Hell For Black Women

September 20th, 2016 - By Ann Brown
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Not many people like working in retail to begin with, but according to an article in Vice written by Sharine Taylor, being a Black woman in retail is doubly hard. “For Black women, working retail is particularly excruciating because we are constantly reminded by both coworkers and customers that we are in fact Black women,” wrote Taylor, whose last retail job was a commission-based position at a footwear store.

She recalled one particularly disturbing incident in detail. “I was helping an older white lady find an item. It had the makings of a perfect sale: she selected a high-end brand, there was good employee-customer interaction, and she even agreed to purchase some product care. While cashing her sale she asked, ‘All that hair, is it yours? It looks like it but I’m not sure.’ I didn’t answer. The politics of Black hair are not my responsibility to explain, especially to people that [sic] I don’t know. I instead asked her if she would be paying by cash, credit, or debit. She chose her tender, I put the receipt in the bag and expected her to walk out. She stared at me and asked, ‘So your hair?’ I gave in and said, ‘I wish it was all mine,’ and then she smiled and walked out.”

Having worked in retail in the past for more than 10 years myself, I only once experienced treatment that I thought was a result of being a Black women. This might be due to the fact I was working at a high-end men’s clothing store, which at the time was family owned and most of my co-workers were gay men (white, Black, Hispanic). I worked there part-time through high school, college, and as I got my journalism career up and running. As a salesperson I never experienced racist incidents, either with customers or co-workers, but when I took on working in the money room with the safe I felt I was under more scrutiny than other workers in the room, especially when money once went missing. Despite my then-seniority with the company, I was the immediate suspect. I even  had to take a lie detector test. I passed, but the money was still missing and all eyes were still on me. After a two-month investigation it was shown to be a bank error and not an issue with our deposit. Did I quit? No, though shaken, I wasn’t going to quit. In fact, I went on to become the night money room supervisor.

In addition to situations such as that, the pay scale is where the real discrimination often comes in for Black women in retail. “White retail workers earn $15.32 an hour, on average, while African American and Latino retail workers average less than $11.75, according to a recent analysis of government data by NAACP and Demos, a left-leaning think tank,” CNN reported in 2015. And why? “The reason is simple: white workers are more likely to be promoted to manager roles, while minority workers are overrepresented among the lower-paid cashier positions,” reported CNN. What makes this even more distressing is the fact that the retail sector is the second largest employer of Black workers in the United States, yet African Americans hardly ever get managerial positions. “Managers hire people who look like them or someone they know already. They’ll promote them,” said Phil Andrews, Director of the Retail Action Project (RAP) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. And, unsurprisingly, “Those managers more often than not tend to be white.”


From Victoria’s Secret To Ikea: Did You Know These Products Were Made By Prisoners?

September 25th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Cutting labor costs is part of doing business. But did you know that some of these companies used low-priced prison labor to make some of their products?

15 Struggles Only People Who Work In Retail Understand

July 1st, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Working in retail can be the worst. But until we find another 9 to 5, lets all vent together shall we? Here are 15 struggles only people who work in retail understand.

Checkout Lines


Update: Discrimination Lawsuits Against High-End Perfume Company Bond No. 9 Have Been Withdrawn

May 20th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Both former employees who alleged racial discrimination against the high-end perfumer Bond No. 9 and its owner Laurice Rahme have voluntarily withdrawn their cases, according to information we received from the company. In a note signed by Rahme, she notes that normally in these cases, there’s a monetary settlement to bring the lawsuit to an end. There was no such settlement here.

“In this case, however, the claims against me and my company were so blatantly false, insulting and personally and professionally damaging, that I never considered any option but to defend against these allegations,” the letter states.

“I take enormous pride in my multi-national, multi-ethnic staff, and our multitudes of customers from all over New York, the United States, and the world.  Indeed, my New York-oriented fragrance company (whose scents are named for areas of the city as diverse as Coney Island, Harlem, the Bowery, and Park Avenue) is constantly inspired by the melting pot that is our great city,” Rahme adds.

Given the problems the lawsuit caused, we asked whether the company would be changing any of its hiring practices to avoid this sort of issue in the future.

“We are not changing any hiring nor employment practices,” Rahme told us in an emailed response. “We will continue hiring the diverse team as this is what our clients enjoy. Our business was affected at the beginning as bad publicity always affects business. We have now done a big turn around and our business is flourishing.”

In other Bond No. 9 news, the company announced today that it is taking its free refill program, which has quietly been around for seven years, public. Between May 29 and June 11, if you take your empty perfume bottle “regardless of brand” to Bond No. 9, you’ll get a large bottle of one of Bond No. 9’s perfumes (you have to choose from one of 16 identified scents). To take advantage of the deal, you have to purchase two Bond No. 9 products, excluding the pocket sprays.

So if you’re looking for a summer scent, you might want to check it out.


Original post published August 14, 2012

Veronica Robledo and Karin Widmann, two former “perfumistas” at the high-end perfume shop Bond No. 9, have sued the company’s owner Laurice Rahme, alleging that they were fired for not heeding instructions to follow black customers around the store when given a verbal cue.

The two former staffers are suing Rahme for $3 million. Robledo and Widmann say there was a code that Rahme used — “We need the light bulbs changed” — when she wanted them to tail a customer.

Robledo, who is Puerto Rican, worked with Rahme for nine years. Both workers were fired after Rahme accused them of stealing $25,000 worth of merchandise in February. They deny any thievery.

Rahme, of course, has denied that she’s a racist, saying that many of her staffers are minorities and professing her love for black customers in the New York Daily News.  The code, she says, is used when someone dodgy comes into the store and bothers the “perfumistas.”

Just last month, another retailer, Wet Seal, was sued by staffers for discrimination.

Polo, Peeps and Movie Premieres: I Still Don’t Understand How Some People Celebrate Easter

April 19th, 2014 - By Toya Sharee
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easter celebrations


Whether you celebrate Easter, Resurrection Day or The Memorial, like every other holiday, unfortunately Easter Sunday has its fair share of commercialism. I’ve seen pastel Peeps lining store shelves since the day after Valentine’s Day and Sears Portrait Studio has been pimping the Easter Bunny in the weekend circulars for at least a month now. They even want people to bring their pets to get their pose on with the oversized rodent.

I’ll admit most of it is pretty darn cute. I love seeing little girls twirl in their Easter dresses with their barrettes and bows and dangling from their braids and puffballs. It’s funny how amazing regular eggs become when drowned in a little dollar store dye. But for some, Easter celebrations couldn’t be farther from what the holiday was intended for.

When I was a child my mother would set up Easter baskets and candy on the dining room table (always making sure to get yellow Marshmallow Peeps for my father). Chocolate Easter bunnies were no longer welcome in the house after our Yorkie Terrier stole and devoured a whole one when I was a toddler. A few early Easters she would buy my sister and I pretty dresses and take pictures.  Mom was never big on church on Easter Sunday, because she wasn’t big on religion all year round. Which brings me to my first tradition:  I don’t understand how people can make such a fuss out of praising the Lord in church on one day and don’t find the energy to do so any other day of the year. I’m not the most religious person, but I understand Christ doesn’t quite work that way. He’s not like the hairstylist that you slighted for the summer because you wanted to save some money and rock braids; he’s always waiting with open arms. But if you’re going to have faith, why not make the effort to incorporate it into your life for the rest of the year?

Speaking of church, most people aren’t going to make their annual appearance in the house of the Lord without being dressed to impress. I’ve witnessed people spend their whole tax return on “Easter” clothes. And we’re not talking about pink dresses and tailored suits. Every year at this time Polo and Air Jordan sales rise a little higher. People will fall behind on their student loan payments just so their babies can rock the new Lebrons in their Easter Sunday pictures. Again I ask, “What exactly does this have to do with Christ rising from the dead?”

I’m not knocking tradition. Even if it’s your family ritual to see the latest superhero movie every Easter Sunday, that still gives a child something to look forward to. It shapes your identity as a family and that’s what most important about the holidays. I’m not even saying that you even have to embrace the religious origin behind every holiday, but you should at least educate yourself and your children about it. After all, the Easter Bunny is a lot less scary to kids  than someone rising from the dead.  But your kids should know as much about the resurrection as they do retail when they’re celebrating the holiday. Whether you’re dying eggs or taking a half day at work so your baby can have the latest Air J’s to rock on Easter Sunday. As long as you’re spreading a message of family togetherness, that’s the best thing about the holiday. But if you’re going to make such a big deal out of Easter or any holiday for that matter, at least teach your children its history.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.

Add Retail To Your Resume: Valuable Skills That You Should Highlight On Your CV

March 17th, 2014 - By Caressa Sanford
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Many people, particularly in the throes of lingering global financial issues, have taken retail jobs to supplement their income. While it may see as though these are toss-away jobs that don’t mean much in the grand scheme of your resume, there really is great value to these jobs.

While a job in retail (as a sales associate… not as an executive, manager, etc) is probably a stepping stone to bigger things, it’s worth it to take a look at what these positions offer. Retail employees should be using these jobs as a way to transition their unique skills into new careers and a source of valuable experience. There is a lot more skill than often meets the eye in retail, which ought to be highlighted when applying and interviewing for new jobs.

Here are some of the skills that you can takeaway from a retail job and showcase on your resume.

Not Just For The Holidays: National Retail Federation Clip Tells The Story Of A Career Retail Worker

January 24th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Most people, when they think of working in retail, imagine a part-time job for college students looking to make some money for books, or temporary work around the holidays; something to do for a few weeks to make some extra money and get a discount on gifts.

But there are some people who make a career out of working in retail. That’s the focus of the National Retail Federation’s latest campaign “This is Retail.” On the campaign website, the group (the largest retail trade group in the world) wants to show the depth and breadth of professional opportunity across the retail industry. There are 42 million workers in retail, the NRF says, and not all of those people are “behind a cash register.”

So here we have the story of Claudine McKenzie, who says she started at Walmart when she was three months pregnant with her first child. After 17 years of winding her way through a number of stores and up the chain of command, she’s a store manager working towards a Master’s degree. Besides offering a glimpse at what’s possible in retail, the clip also acts as a bit of a love letter to Walmart — she refers a couple of times to the “support” she got from the retailer during both her pregnancies — who usually figures much more negatively when the talk turns to how they treat their employees.

Have you ever considered a career in retail? Does this clip make you think of retail differently?

With Two NYC Stores Open For Business, Brittanie Yvonne Built EHVonnae From The Ground Up

January 16th, 2014 - By Priscilla Ward
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Brittanie YvonneAfter a layoff left her two years removed from the corporate world and unable to find a new job, Brittanie Yvonne took matters into her own hands. “I didn’t just want a job. I wanted something that was going to further my experience and help me gain the knowledge to eventually have my own business,” Yvonne tells MN Business.

All of this, she thought, was a sign that if she couldn’t find a job that would make her happy, she shouldn’t be working for someone else. “It was time for me to start my own business. So I did,” Yvonne said.

Capitalizing on a strong sense of style, she started EHVonnae, a New York-based  brick-and-mortar boutique with a dual online component. Yvonne opened up her first location in trendy DUMBO, Brooklyn. And she did it without having a large amount of financial backing.

Her parents’ first reaction to the news that she wasn’t going to be working for anyone else any longer was, “Well what are you going to do? You have to do something.” To prove just how serious she was, she started with lots of research, reading about how to start a business from the ground up. She then wrote a carefully articulated business plan describing how she was going to make being her own boss work. “From then on my parents understood, and started to support the start of my business,” Yvonne said.

She used her unemployment money, help from family, and counsel from a business advisor to get all of her paperwork together. With the groundwork laid, she took the next big step of finding the perfect home for this business venture. “Having a budget was essential,” Yvonne said.  She found a location within her budget and went for it. “It was the scariest thing to do, but no risk, no reward. It was the best decision I could have made,” Yvonne said.

She reached out to a friend who worked in real estate for help. “I was surprised to find out that there are some very affordable rental spaces in New York City due to the state of the economy and the unfortunate closings of businesses,” she said. “Some are even month-to-month situations. It all comes down to research and negotiation. Anything is possible.” Not only did Yvonne open shop in one of the most desirable addresses in Brooklyn. Her first shop opened in 2010.

Seasonal Job Ideas For Students During The Holiday Break

November 27th, 2013 - By Blair Bedford
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With the holiday season quickly approaching, many college students are in search of seasonal employment to hold them over financially during their winter break. Much better than lying around catching up on Netflix! Here are a few suggestions to make a few extra dollars while school’s out of session. Be sure to pass this along to the story to those college goers in your life looking for ideas!

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New York Attorney General Investigating Barneys NY Discrimination Case

October 30th, 2013 - By Raven Carter
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Source: Barneys

Source: Barneys


From StyleBlazer

Things have gone from sticky to super sticky now that the New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman is involved with the discrimination cases against Barneys and Macy’s stores.

On Monday, Schneiderman’s office sent requests to both retailers requesting a long list of documents concerning policies for stopping, detaining and questioning customers based on race. They must comply by Friday. In a matter of one week there have been four reports of unfair racial profiling of customers who would otherwise have been enjoying a shopping experience.

“The alleged repeated behavior of your employees raises troubling questions about your company’s commitment to that ideal,” Kristen Clarke, who heads the AG’s civil rights bureau, wrote to Barneys CEO Mark Lee and Macy’s Chief Stores Officer Peter Sachse. In the past Macy’s has been accused of racial profiling, settling a case in 2005 for $600,000.