11 Nightmarish Tales Of Working Retail During The Holidays

Flying mannequin hands, children pulling the fire alarm, and fighting over pencils. Anonymous associates from stores around New York City share their craziest holiday shopping stories.

1. Steve Madden

“I was working at the door during Black Friday, handing out the scratch & save coupons. I’m supposed to give out one per person, you’re not allowed to have more. But people were just snatching stacks of them out of my hand really aggressively without saying a word. I couldn’t stop them.

Also, there was a guy walking around asking if he could get this pair of heels in a size 12 — for himself. We don’t carry size 12 in heels, which we told him. But he kept going around asking every single employee.”

2. Forever 21

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

“On Black Friday, a woman saw a mannequin wearing three bracelets and a hat she wanted, so she starts disassembling the mannequin. While she pulled off the mannequin’s hand to get the bracelets, she has her son climb up on the display to get the hat. Then the mannequin fell down on the ground. People were like, why are mannequin body parts rolling all over the place?”

3. Forever 21

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

“I worked at Forever 21 last year and I saw two people fighting over a shirt on Black Friday. They eventually pulled so much that they ripped it in half. It turned out the shirt wasn’t even on sale.”

4. Macy’s

Keith Bedford / Reuters

“Over the weekend, this lady pushed me. She yelled, ‘Get out of my way!’ and pushed me over. What could I do? I could follow her and say something and end up losing my job, so there’s nothing you can do.

“We opened at midnight on Thanksgiving, which is so unnecessary. Most of the people who come at night are either homeless or drunk. People decide after the club that it’d be funny to go shopping. [Opening at midnight]’s so pointless.”

5. Kohl’s

Rick Wilking / Reuters

“People at Kohl’s would always fight over pillows in particular. They really would go crazy for pillows. They’d know exactly which one they wanted, and would push each other out of the way to get the one they wanted. They don’t realize we have more that we’re about to bring out from the back.”

6. JC Penney

Daily Free Press, Zach Frailey / AP

“I came in at 7 a.m., but we open at 6. By 7, everything was gone. We only have a certain number of each item and we ran out of all the most popular products within an hour. By mid-morning, it wasn’t that hectic, but people were fighting over certain sizes of jeans.”

7. GAP

Elise Amendola, File / AP

“At closing time on Black Friday, we had a ton of people still in line who didn’t want to leave. We couldn’t get them out. And then, out of nowhere, a little boy pulls the fire alarm. So all the people rushed out because they thought there was a fire. We were like, thank God for that little boy. But usually, kids running around are the worst.

“Dressing rooms are really bad during the holidays. The clothes go in clean, and they come out dirty. People get like, baby food, on the clothing.”

8. Staples

Rick Wilking / Reuters

“I used to work at Staples and there were people who would go crazy fighting over pencils. A guy told me there would be a huge problem if he didn’t get a very specific box of pencils. He got the pencils.”

9. Levi’s

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

“You know the song ‘Gangnam Style’? Well it started playing in the store this weekend, during Black Friday, and all these people started doing the dance in the middle of the store. So it wasn’t the kind of horror stories you hear about, it was just funny.”

10. H&M

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

“On Black Friday, you spend most of the day picking stuff off the floor. People are so rude. They just throw stuff on the floor — jewelry, scarves, whatever. A ton of stuff gets damaged and broken. People work 12-hour shifts. I never want to do it again.”

11. Sephora

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

“Right in the middle of a busy holiday shopping day, I had a woman come up to the register and start complaining about the $40 price of a blush. She started telling me how her therapist had broken up with her, because she was depressing the therapist, so that left her depressed. There were tons of people in line to pay, but she kept going on for 20 minutes and I couldn’t stop her. I had to tell my colleagues to avoid her. She also had a yapping dog in her purse.”

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