Sunday, April 10, 2011

(48)Malled by Caitlin Kelly

Working retail is one of those experiences that you just don't "get" unless you have experienced it for yourself. The hours are long, the pay is low, the work is demanding, the customers can be atrocious. Writing books about working in retail is nothing new. Caitlin Kelly's Malled is just the next in a long line of former retail employees who want to share their experiences.

Caitlin Kelly is a journalist by trade. In 2007 she found herself desperate for a steady income of some sort and she found herself applying for, and getting hired by The North Face company. As most people do when starting a new job, Caitlin entered the retail workforce with a positive attitude and an open mind. After two years on the job, the stress of the job obviously has worn Caitlin down and by her own admission she has become bitter and bitchy when dealing with customers, and has decided that her time at The North Face has come to an end.

I really enjoyed Malled. Unlike other tales of retail woe, Caitlin Kelly did not whine about working retail for 240 pages. She did extensive research on the industry, and worker relations within retail and interspersed those facts throughout her book. She wrote a fair and accurate book about work retail. She even admitted her own screw-ups, as opposed to blaming all of her woes on the evil "corporate office" and I found that really refreshing and somewhat endearing.

Overall, I really enjoyed Malled. I think a lot of my former coworkers will enjoy the book and find themselves nodding in agreement with many of Caitlin Kelly's observations. The writing is intelligent and the obvious work of a professional writer, again very refreshing. But, I will say, having been a retail manager for over fifteen years, I found myself again, reading about "management" and while I may understand what they did & why, I wish that this woman's manager had taken the time to explain the "whys" & "what fors" to his staff. It would have eliminated a lot of the animosity that develops between the staff and management. It was something I tried to do with every missive that came from the top. Just once, I would like to read a retail memoir written by a retail manager. Maybe that is my calling...

2 comments:

Lisa Mandina said...

You should totally write a book from your experience. I love working at the bookstore, but sometimes do find myself getting cranky with the customers, and then I have to take a step back and realize it's not something to do to keep customers coming back. Although as you know, there are plenty of crazy ones out there.

Sara Bell said...

You should write the book Charlotte! I'd DEFINITELY read it! =]

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