Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Retail Hell” as Want to Read:
Retail Hell
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Retail Hell

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  1,162 ratings  ·  210 reviews
As the token male sales associate in the handbag department, Freeman Hall knows a thing or two about ready-to-wear chaos. Speaking for every wage slave who has ever handled a bogus return, Freeman throws open the gates of Retail Hell, revealing stories from his twenty years of working "on the floor."
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published September 18th 2009 by Adams Media Corporation (first published September 1st 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Retail Hell, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Retail Hell

1984 by George OrwellAnimal Farm by George OrwellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyWhere the Sidewalk Ends by Shel SilversteinThe Stranger by Albert Camus
White as the Driven Snow
160th out of 951 books — 223 voters
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourtBlood River by Tim ButcherUnbroken by Laura HillenbrandThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Biography and Memoirs that are BETTER than Fiction
297th out of 1,262 books — 1,658 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,380)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Usually when I read a book like this, the best I can say for it is "Good for what it was." I mean, you know you're getting fluff (in this case, fashion-centric, "Curse the snobby rich, but oh, how I wish I could be them," bosses suck kind of fluff) so it's not like you're going into it expecting to have any great metaphysical revelations or anything.
Well, the best I can say for this book was that it was kind of okay for what it was. Honestly I expected to get more entertainment and laughs for my
I have read some reviews for this book and am actually surprised by some of the negatives expresses about it. I personally enjoyed all the 'F' bombs thrown about the dialogue, it made his personal experiences feel more sincere and, quite frankly, hilarious. His personal dialogue was very funny in a crass and crude sarcastic manner.
I also found nothing offensive about the last chapter that seems to have had some reviewers cringing. That shit actually happens in retail (pardon the pun).
Freeman Ha
3.5 stars. This was a hilarious, fun read full of entertaining tales of retail life. Having spent several years in retail, I could definitely relate! I definitely would not be able to handle working off of commission though, and I wouldn't be able to stand having to do ANY return! I used to love turning down ridiculous returns! I plan on checking out his other books as well, he's so funny! I could totally see myself being friends with him!
Sofia (bookaholicconfessions)
New and improved review up on my blog weee!!

For fans of Confessions of a Shopaholic and Devil Wears Prada:

I don't have much experience with non-fiction. In fact, I've only encountered it through required readings in school. This is my very first time picking up non-fiction on my own free will and it was such a great experience. Freeman Hall vividly describes how toxic and taxing it can be to work in a cut throat business like retail. He started out in Cal
Retail Hell by Freeman Hall (pp. 272)

Retail Hell is another popular blog turned into a book. Freeman Hall is a career retail sales associate drawing on his experience at multiple high-end department stores to create a fun composite of the good, the ugly, and uglier of the other side of the sales counter. Theft, poop, massive spenders, bored rich women, discount seeking denizens, prostitutes, fraudsters, corporate rah-rah queens, and retail lifers face off against Hall as we watch him evolve from
Maria Neis
The back cover of the book displays the quote that "Freeman Hall is a retail-centric Perez Hilton." I guess it's true, in the way that Hall is sassy, witty, and doesn't hold back. Retail Hell is a quick, light read that will appeal to anyone who has worked in retail, especially specialty goods or high-end stores. Hall gives us a poignant look inside "The Big Fancy" (his alias for the upper-crust department store employing him) from training through sales, and holds nothing back. Each chapter giv ...more
Courtney (Fuzzy.Coffee.Books)
I find that most books I buy are impulse buys. I rarely go into a bookstore looking for something specific. On this occasion, however, I was in the biography section in search of a birthday gift for my Grandmother. That's where I spotted this little gem.
When I read the back of the book, I thought it would be an interesting read. One of my best friends has a retail job and I loathe it, because we work very conflicting schedules and rarely get to hang out. So I thought reading a no-holds barred co
Timothy Juhl
Yes, two stars and here's why...the first 50 pages are funny, the author's bitchy, gay salesclerk is outrageous, but the act wears thin as you muddle through the rest of the chapters.

Hall overdoes the pop cultural references which will quickly date this book and make it even less funny in a couple years. References to flash-in-the-pan starlets and current television shows (and I mean current...which will provides the book with another issue later in this review), are slightly humorous when you
I read a magazine article in a waiting room and this book was mentioned. I thought "I work in retail" I felt I would probably find the book amusing. But, I really didn't. I think some people are naturally funny and can write funny books. In this case, I felt the writer didn't have a natural wit but intentionally tried to write a funny book. He just couldn't pull it off in my opinion. He writes about specific customers and their peculiarities. Parts felt true but then he seems to go for the exagg ...more
Mary (BookHounds)
This is the reason I will never ever work retail again: If the customers don't get you, the management will. I thought this was just hilarious and you couldn't make this stuff up in a million years. Much like Jen Lancaster's Bitter is the New Black and Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag by Michael Tonello, you will find it hard not to laugh at what happens in a fancy department store. At least I guessed it right and got the department store corre ...more
This was a blog turned into a book a la "Waiter Rant" but does not quite measure up to WR in terms of writing. That said, it was totally enjoyable for me and I was into it enough that I missed my subway stop and that's never happened before.
Hall's wannabe upscale Clerks falls sadly short of its mark - if this is hell, it's only the first circle. In the first 24 hours of my retail career, I accumulated funnier stories than these. And I tell them better. In fact, one suspects that the author's 20 year stint in retail on the way to becoming a screenwriter might have less to do with being ground down by The Store and more to do with his being a lousy writer. Those outside the business might find a few shocked laughs here. Those inside ...more
Dave Moore
I worked a lot in retail, part-time, and everything Hall mentions is so, so true. Very rarely can I say a book made me laugh until I literally had tears, but this is one.
Mar 05, 2010 Yolanda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Yolanda by: Jackie
Oh. My. God. This book was all kinds of awesome! This is a must read for anyone who has ever worked in retail. Doesn't matter what type of items you sold or in what store, but these stories about his customers you can definitely relate to. I love the names that Freeman Hall gives his customers. I can relate to that. My co-workers and I would name ours, and the ones that we usually named were not the nice ones. The nice ones we would remember their name. Or at least not call them Vomit Girl. Or D ...more
Gerard Villegas
In no way is Retail Hell going to win a Pulitzer Prize or any literature merit award. It's fluff, plain and simple. However, it's fun fluff. Retail Hell reads like a tabloid magazine, along with every other gossip site from TMZ to US Weekly to the National Enquirer, it's all trashy fun.

I've spoken with the author via e-mails since he created a retail rant site. As someone who has worked ten-plus years in the service industry, I've had my fair share of difficult and crazy customers so I related t
This dull, repetitive book about a guy who works in handbags at a major department store might have made a fun magazine article. But of the 270 pages only about one-fifth are worth reading. There are some interesting insights into how a major corporation mistreats its employees, but the bulk of the book is the author slamming virtually every customer that he encounters, giving them nasty nicknames. He does it without much humor but a lot of snarky put-downs so he can make himself feel better. An ...more
Having worked in retail for much of my life, this title caught my eye at once. My first thought was "Someone wrote my book!"
I have experienced every one of these comical situations at one time or another! Nice to know I was not alone.
This is a vacation read, not at all serious and if you are offended by bad language, stay away. However, if you have ever worked in any kind of store, serving the public, you will love this book!
Sometimes this book was really hilarious because it's the truth; customers just don't get it! And other times, I just thought the mark was missed on humor. However, I enjoyed the read and have recommended it to all of my fellow retail slaves. Now when someone asks me "Do you work here?" as I'm immersed in a task that clearly I would only be doing if I worked there, I think of Freeman and what he would say; "No."
I can't say this is very good; it's definitely a case of the author finding himself much more clever and humorous than the reader is able to. The writing is self-indulgent, lazy, and the attempt to wring a memoir out of the author's experiences in retail is doomed to failure by his apparent lack of material--where's the titular "hell?"--and his hysterical exaggeration of the material he does have. It comes across as whining that he's been forced to do the job he's paid for--god forbid anyone be ...more
Perhaps you need to have worked retail to get it, but I haven't laughed this hard in years. 10 pages in, I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my face and I couldn't see the pages!
I started it, could be funny, but I just could not get past all the swearing. I do NOT recomment this book
I enjoyed this book for what it was: a light read with humorous stories that I could relate to. As an ex-employee of Nordstrom (aka The Big Fancy in this book) I can tell you that my experience was extremely similar to Freeman's, and that might have created some bias for me, as it was almost like hearing gossip from my old store.

However, if you decide to read this book, remember these things as to not be disappointed:

Like I said already, it is a quick and light read.
I didn't necessarily laugh o
Although humorous at times, I find it no where near as fun to read as "Let's Pretend This Never Happened". But then we can't all be Jenny Lawson. My particular favorite right now has to be Shoposaurus Carnotaurus. This chapter has the award as being the only chapter that I have quoted something to my husband.

I had customers and fellow salespeople both exclaim, "How can you wait on that woman? She's awful! She's treating you so badly!"
I just smiled at them and replied, "Her bark is worse that he
A little bit of Freeman Hall goes a long way. And a book is too much. (And for the record I've worked in retail for five years.)

Hall moved to L.A. to become a screenwriter, but to pay the bills, he wound up selling ladies' handbags at Nordrstrom. (Not so cleverly disguised here as Big Fancy.) He would have rather been working selling men's wear, measuring guys' inseams. (They don't do that in men's wears sale these days.) And that's just one of the many things that quickly wear out their welcom
Anita Dalton
Sigh... I worked retail for far too many years, selling lower-end shoes on commission, to have as much sympathy for this book as I wanted. I am always in the camp of the worker. Once you toil in retail, your sentiments almost always side with the sales clerk. But Freeman Hall, while amusing and interesting, tested that at times. It's clear "The Big Fancy" is Nordstrom and I have to wonder about the veracity of some of his stories because if the Nine West group would fire clerks for excessive use ...more
Karen Germain
In Retail Hell, author Freeman Hall recounts his fifteen years selling handbags at a major department store that he has named "The Big Fancy". If you do a minimal amount of digging, it's easy to figure out the store and location of his former employer. This also happens to be my former employer and location, which made reading this book all the more interesting and held me back from writing this review until I had resigned.

The book was highly entertaining to read and I breezed right through it.
As a former Retail Slave, this book triggered some serious customer-induced PTSD. Some of Freeman Hall's anecdotes almost seem too ridiculous to actually be true, and I'm sure I would think that they were grossly exaggerated if I hadn't lived through similar experiences. Sometimes truth really IS stranger than fiction.

There were a few points in the book where Hall complained about the basic responsibilities of his job, and I have little patience for that. In any type of customer service field yo
I'd actually rate this a 4.5 if it were possible. I loved Freeman's easy, conversational way of writing. It's not usually my prefered sort of writing to read (if that makes any sense), but the stories being told were just that: gossipy type stories which lend themselves well to that style of writing. I think I loved this book so much because, having worked as a "Retail Slave" for some years myself, I could easily relate to just about everything he said...and I sell books, not handbags! Who in th ...more
Brenda Leavy
OMG! This was my plane ride book today. I finished it before I was halfway to St. Louis. Very quick read. Quite brainless. Terribly offensive. Absolutely hilarious. Because it's true. Anyone who has spent more than a few months on the sales floor will recognize these customers from hell. Freeman (the author) sold handbags at a big dept store. He should hear the stories from the poor lingerie salesgirls in small stores who had nowhere to hide! The chapter on bodily functions was absolutely gross, ...more
Although this book wasn't filled with rich meaning to take away and use in everyday life, and although the author may not be the next Ernest Hemingway or Davis Sedaris, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. This book is a must read for anyone who has worked retail-- especially those who have worked in a department store. Although Hall worked in a store in California, and I worked at a Big Not-As-Fancy in Minnesota, apparently customers and managers are the same nationwide. The customers who want extra ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 79 80 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat
  • Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress
  • Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook
  • Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen
  • Mouseschawitz - My Summer Job of Concentrated Fun (Tales of a Disney Cast Member)
  • I Still Have It . . . I Just Can't Remember Where I Put It: Confessions of a Fiftysomething
  • STFU, Parents: The Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent  Overshare
  • Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag
  • The Customer Is Not Always Right: Hilarious and Horrific Tales of Customers Gone Wrong
  • Revenge of the Paste Eaters: Memoirs of a Misfit
  • Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity
  • Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir
  • Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A Memoir
  • Dreaming of Dior: Every Dress Tells a Story
  • Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet
  • Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Master Painters and Sculptors
  • I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society
  • Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy: The Belle of All Things Southern Dishes on Men, Money, and Not Losing Your Midlife Mind
Lives in Los Angeles, California"
More about Freeman Hall...
Return to the Big Fancy Stuff That Makes a Gay Heart Weep: A Definitive Guide to the Loud & Proud Dislikes of Millions Coworker Hell Discount Hell: A Retail Hell Underground Digital Short Stolen Hell: A Retail Hell Underground Digital Short

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I discovered handbags are made out of just about everything but sheet metal and drywall. Could it be possible that one day women will actually be able to live in their handbags? I think so.” 1 likes
More quotes…