I know I’ve jumped ahead a bit, but my years at Macy’s were quite interesting and made a significant impact on my life in so many ways! First of all, I was surprised that I even got hired. At the time Macy’s seemed like a “glamour” job and I didn’t know if I was suited for it. I could talk to people and I was pretty quick about acquiring new skills, but my previous job experiences had been in much smaller environments and mostly with children. I answered the ad in the paper for “temporary, part-time Christmas help” because we needed the money, but I was nervous about being equal to the task. Also, even at that younger, thinner phase in my life I wasn’t a “dress up” kind of woman. Macy’s had a strict dress code and I feared that too much of my salary would be spent on clothes. I solved that problem early by wearing mostly black and accessorizing with scarves and costume jewelry.
From my diary: January 2, 1987-Needless to say, Oct., Nov. & December were very busy!! I started working at Macy’s Oct. 25, the same week as my training class. I picked up some “on call” hours and I’m really glad I did. It gave me a chance to work in several departments and see what they were like. I ended up working 20-30 hours each week instead of the 13 hours I originally signed up for. My last day was Dec. 27, but I’m on the rehire list so I may eventually get a permanent part-time job.
After I had worked for the company for nearly a month I was told by my supervisor that what turned my “temporary/part-time” status into “permanent/full-time” was that one of my first customers was the store manager doing her “secret shopper” routine!
From my resume: Sales/Flyer, Personnel Assistant, Employee Trainer- Macy’s Fresno, CA, 1986-90. Worked on the sales floor covering lunches, breaks, employee shortages, absences, and vacations. Also worked in gift wrap, customer service, and loading dock. Ran 10-line switchboard. Began working in the personnel office in 1988. Trained new sales personnel in cash register procedures and sales techniques. Classes of fifteen adults.
By the end of my career at Macy’s I had worked in literally every department in the store. Of course I wasn’t much help in electronics or on the loading dock! I was taught a wide variety of skills while I was at Macy’s and some of them have served me well in life and in other jobs. I got a lot of training in customer service and dealing with the public. I also learned how to wrap packages, “25 ways to tie a scarf”, how to measure a man’s suit, how to operate a switchboard. I attended workshops about health insurance, clothing brands, jewelry, cosmetics, shoes. Can you see me selling cosmetics and jewelry??? LOL But I did and I was pretty good at it. I also had the “highest single sale” in the men’s department one week. I won the employee referral contest one year. The prize was a trip to the coast and a stay in a charming hotel we couldn’t afford on our own. One of my “referrals” was Gary! He worked on the loading dock for a couple of Christmases.
Christmas at Macy’s was a feast for the eyes! The display crew started working behind the scenes in the summer to create a fantasy of holiday splendor. There was music and magic everywhere- each department tried to outshine the others with free samples, promotions, and displays. The trees were gorgeous and the whole store seemed to glow.
Of course Macy’s was known for its merchandise and its sales. The fabulous furs, name-brand clothes, luxurious linens and fine china tempted customers all year long, but at Christmas there was a frenzied rush to get the perfect present at the best price and then have it wrapped in pretty Macy’s paper. Someone asked me one year if working at Macy’s made me want more things or made me wish I was wealthy. I can honestly say that working in the store actually had the opposite effect. One of the reasons we want “pretty things” is so we can look at them and enjoy them each day. I got to see, feel, and enjoy things that were beautiful and extravagant without paying a dime for the privilege!
Working at Macy’s wasn’t all glitz and glamour, even at Christmas. The hours were long and I hated working until 11pm. Then there was the drudgery of endlessly folding sweaters and putting them back on the shelves, and picking up clothes in the dressing rooms and putting them back on the racks. Customers were often tired and demanding. I witnessed a customer slap the hand of one of our gift wrappers because she wasn’t satisfied with her package! Ugly things happened far too often: cute teenage girls shop-lifting “on a dare”, people having sex in the dressing rooms for the “thrill of it”, drug addicts getting violent with security, robbers successfully raiding departments, customers faking “accidents” and threatening lawsuits, real accidents causing injury to customers…each day’s major event seemed to be a reflection of a different segment of society.
The best thing about working at Macy’s at Christmas and throughout the year was making friends with a variety of people. Regular customers, co-workers and other mall employees shared their thoughts and their lives with me during my years in retail and my own opinions and outlook changed as a result. It’s ironic that the best people I met during my time at Macy’s are now on FB! Though each is in a different state and I haven’t seen them in years, I know that Cherri, Paige, and Julie are still wonderful people! Thanks for the memories ladies! And Merry Christmas!