After a month working for the Mouse, I guess it's about time I started blogging about it. We sell just about everything with Disney character on it -- from striped Tigger jumpers for babies to Tinkerbell jewelery for adults to Hannah Montana pillows. It's bright and colourful and aimed mostly at children, but with some adult toys thrown in, like our collectable snowglobes and coffee mugs.
I've found that working there is an extremely tiring, but not unentertaining experience. While adults do come in looking for merchandise for themselves, the majority of customers are accompanied by small children and babies. The store has especially wide aisles to accomodate the caravans of tricked-out strollers and carriages, but during our busiest times I often wish those aisles came equipped with traffic lights and crossing guards to manage the crush.
And the children. There are so many of them - and they're not all on their best behaviour (although I've yet to encounter a true monster) - but they've provided me with so much writing material on parenting that it's totally worth it. In a month, I've encountered so many different types of parenting attitudes, I could fuel a hundred stories. I've seen children kept on leashes, children with those tiny sandals that make a loud squeaky-toy sound with every step so their parents know where they are, children who are refused a toy by a strict parent only to receive it from the indulgent grandmother two steps behind. We've had parents ignore the "over three" warning on toy labels because their toddlers are "smart." We've even had unaccompanied children whose parents are shopping in the next shop over who've mistaken our store for a free day-care centre.
I've seen a few "don't touch anything, and I mean it" parents, but for the most part the spirit is one of indulgence and spoiling, with the difference being in the scale. Parents end up buying birthday presents, other kids' birthday presents, "today's a sale and who knows when everything'll be this cheap again and my kids will only be kids once" presents, "just shut up already" presents, "we're going to Disneyland so we might as well get the same stuff in advance here while they're cheaper" presents, and "my children literally have everything else in the store" presents. I kid you not, I had to guest-service a grandmother who couldn't find a birthday present for her twin grandsons because everything I pointed out, they had already. "Spoiled rotten, they are," she growled, with the annoyance of a bear who's found out someone got to that picnic basket first.
Sure, the kids are loud, but you can understand the parents' need to drop the cash when you see a kid's reaction to a particular toy. Kids five and over tend to scream their appreciation - usually the character's name rather than the type of toy itself - ie, a boy receiving a Cars bubble machine will not go, "Cool, a bubble machine!" but rather, "LIGHTNING MCQUEEEEEN!" or a girl with a new Disney Princess swimsuit will shriek, "CinderELLA! CinderELLLLAAAAAAA!" Toddlers, oddly enough, are quiet when they get presents, which probably explains why they are getting them in the first place. My favourite scenes in the store are when a parent introduces a doll or a stuffed animal to a baby or toddler, and it ends up being the Huggies version of Love At First Sight. If the toy is satisfactory, the child will go completely silent, take the toy in their arms, and hug it so tight while smiling at everyone as if she'd spent all, what, two and half years of her life looking for this one toy.
Of course, once she and her mom or dad get to the till it's another story - the moment they take that toy out of her hands to ring it in she'll start screeching like a cheap car alarm and the Cast Member on till will have to manhandle a toy coated in loving baby saliva to look for the UPC tag that seven times out of ten has already been torn off. Delightful.
And of course, there are the annoyances that accompany any job in retail. For instances, the irresistible temptation for customers to pick out a bunch of stuff, realize they don't want it, and leave it wherever the hell they want. Or customers who start a till interaction (which we can't close without voiding everything) only to leave it in the middle to go shopping for something else while a line builds up behind. Or customers who don't see the blue ribbons that mark where the till line-up should be, so they line up in an aisle and get pissy when they realize they have to go all the way to the back of the real line before we can serve them. Or the customers who line up after those aforementioned people and are even pissier.
Customers who smell bad (either bad food or too-heavy perfume).
Customers who let their kids run buck wild.
Customers who enter the store two minutes to closing time to "just browse."
Customers who bring in coffee, drinks, and food, and then leave said garbage in the store.
Customers who come in to the Disney Store (which carries only DISNEY BRAND PRODUCTS) asking for Dora the Explorer, Madascar characters, Shrek, and Spider-Man (???).
And then, of course - there's the big screen at the back of the store that plays the same hour-long tape of trailers, Lilo & Stitch sing alongs, Little Mermaid song clips, and Disney Channel advertisements. I've seen the Ratatouille trailer and behind-the-scenes clips about a million times - luckily, I still want to see the movie itself, and my experience at the Movie Theatre (which also played a 40-minute trailer video non-stop) helped me to ignore it.
But so far I'm loving it, the pay and hours are good, and so far I don't seem to be screwing up too badly. So I think I'll stick around.