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How to make a retail worker's day in November

Some workers might not get much of a break this Thanksgiving. (Photograph by Ruth Flores-Orellana)

Some workers might not get much of a break this Thanksgiving. (Photograph by Ruth Flores-Orellana)

By Hannah Stumpf and Hope Bolinger | Echo

For some, this upcoming holiday season is not so jolly.

November and December holidays may bring to mind fantasies of creamy mashed potatoes warming one’s stomach or an imagined cart filled with doorbusters such as a 55-inch television under $300. But for the retail worker, such fantasies soon turn into horrors. Shifts at major retail stores can start anywhere from 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving and end as late as midnight after Black Friday.

If you plan to shop after that last bite of sweet potato pie or during the crazy rush of Friday morning, consider these ways to make a retail worker’s day and, in turn, help them make yours.

Weigh your options before hitting the doorbusters

More and more consumers have chosen to shop online instead of fighting the cold weather to get inside a store. Last year shoppers set a record of $3.34 billion online. Interestingly enough, according to the National Retail Federation, only 47 percent of shoppers went to a physical store.


If the same deals exist online, and you do not have to fight a large crowd to grab the last $10 skillet set, the numbers add up. Before you hit the road, consider online shopping instead. You can save a retail worker extra time who will be able to focus on other tasks instead of worrying about another customer.

“Dressing” rooms not “messing” rooms

Stores such as Kohl’s and Target may feature some new winter wear that you may want to try. By all means, put on that unicorn onesie and fulfill your magical shopping experience.

However, if the horn on the onesie proves to be too flimsy or the pants too baggy for your liking, please do not leave that clothing item in a crumpled heap inside the dressing room stall. At least, return the item to the hanger and place it on a rack for an associate to return to the floor. Of course, if you do have a little extra time on your hands, and you remember where you found the outfit, place it back on the rack. A worker will thank you later because his or her fingers will not turn purple from holding so many returned dressing room item hangers.

If you can, get a rewards card

College students want to avoid credit card debt, so it’s not suggested you buy a credit line with a department store. However, retailers such as Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and J.C. Penney carry cards which you can accumulate points from every purchase (no credit card required). Often, workers have incentives for signing up customers to these programs, so if you sign up for a rewards card, you could bring a worker one step closer to a raise or, at least, a rare “good work” from his or her manager.

Specific items and seasonal workers

Several of the employees you will encounter on Black Friday will be working at that store seasonally. In those cases, they have worked there for just a few weeks and may not know where to find a very specific appliance or clothing item (in the case of clothing, earlier customers may have set the clothing racks in disarray, which makes it even harder to locate items). Even seasoned employees may still be adjusting to the new displays made just for that weekend. Have patience and understand the worker may or may not be able to find that deal you saw online.

Remember that retail workers are human

It’s a mystery to some why the holidays are stressful for some people and not others. Sure, they might have people that are hard to shop for and have to think of something last minute as a gift. That being said, don’t lash out at retail workers because the line is too long or can’t find a sweater in a specific color or size. They have families they would rather be seeing than your aggravated demeanor. Granted, sometimes retail workers are rude, but for the large part, they’re just trying to get through that extra shift as painlessly as possible. Take time to consider why they are even working holidays in the first place. With this in mind, shake off the fact they typed in your credit card number wrong for the third time, and remember what the season is really about.

Make returns after New Years if possible

Sometimes stores dictate you return an item within a short period, but for most things, this time frame is around 30 thirty days. You can beat the post-Christmas return rush if you wait just a few extra days to make returns and exchanges. That way, your line will most likely be shorter, therefore your patience longer. Plus, think of all the other people wanting to exchange immediately after Christmas. Chances are, retail workers will still be swamped from those Dec. 26th returners. The actual season may be over, but the commercial one isn’t. They will be exhausted. Waiting ensures you finish your business promptly and retail workers can devote more time per patron.

Generally good manners

In past retail experience, a simple please and thank you from a customer can make your day. It makes a retail worker feel seen and appreciated. If a worker looks busy, but you need help say “excuse me.” Look retail workers in the eye and be attentive when they are speaking to you. As always, say thank you after they have given you help. The Golden Rule will get you far in life, and it can get you really great service from a retail worker this holiday season.


Store times:


Barnes & Noble: Closed

Best Buy: 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Big Lots: 7 a.m. – 12 a.m.

Costco: Closed

CVS: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: 6 p.m. –  2 a.m.

Dollar General: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Hobby Lobby: Closed

Home Depot: Closed

JCPenney: 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Kmart: 7 p.m. –  9 p.m.

Kohl’s: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Meijer: 6 a.m. – 12 a.m.

Menards: Closed

Old Navy: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Sam’s Club: Closed

Sears: 6 p.m. –  9 p.m.

Target: 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.

T.J. Maxx: Closed

Walgreens: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Wal-Mart: Varies by location

Black Friday

Barnes & Noble: 8 a.m.  10 p.m.

Best Buy: 8 a.m.  10 p.m.

Big Lots: 6 a.m.  9 p.m.

Costco: 9 a.m.  8:30 p.m.

CVS: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: 5 a.m. –  10 p.m.

Dollar General: Varies by location

Hobby Lobby: 8 a.m. –  9 p.m.

Home Depot: 5 a.m. –  10 p.m.

JCPenney: 10 a.m. –  5 p.m.

Kmart: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Kohl’s: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Meijer: 6 a.m. –  12 a.m.

Menards: 6 a.m. – 12 a.m.

Old Navy: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sam’s Club: 7 a.m. –  8:30 p.m.

Sears: 5 a.m. –  8 p.m.

Target: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.

T.J. Maxx: 7 a.m. –  10 p.m.

Walgreens: 7 a.m. –  12 a.m.

Wal-Mart: Varies by location

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