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Retail Hell

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  1,367 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews

From Act I:
"I think you left these behind," I said, handing them to her. This happens all the time when women try to return bags they've used. Tampons, lipstick, coins, Tic Tacs, and condoms are the top treasures found.

"Greasy" let out a sigh as if I were the problem. "I really don't see what the problem is here. It's none of your business what I keep in my handbag."

It i

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published (first published September 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Megg Bartlett
Aug 09, 2013 Megg Bartlett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
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
Jul 01, 2014 Kylie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Big Fancy is based on Nordstrom and I worked there for three years. I feel the pain. I feel it deep in my soul.
Jan 21, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-in-2010
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
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
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
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
Dec 30, 2010 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary (BookHounds)
Oct 19, 2009 Mary (BookHounds) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
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
Nov 01, 2009 Marcia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2010 Yolanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2010 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Aug 12, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Mar 03, 2014 Cyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 31, 2012 Noël rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sep 26, 2010 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-recommended
I started it, could be funny, but I just could not get past all the swearing. I do NOT recomment this book
Dave Moore
Jan 21, 2015 Dave Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sarah Kaczorowski
For anyone who has worked in retail they will definitely understand
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.
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
Pete Dematteo
Dec 27, 2015 Pete Dematteo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Hall exemplifies false bravado, false joviality, and forced civility to the T in humorous expertise, in this highly unsettling and pathetic little book. I thanked the Good Lord that I didn't reside in Los Angeles. At first I welcomed some of the eccentric characters, even if they were (allegedly) homeless, but as the book progressed, any eccentricity or conspicious consumption became more and more burdensome, repetitive, and downright unwelcomed, with good cause, indeed. Hearing about subhum ...more
Jul 10, 2010 Rich rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, memoirs, biography
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
Oct 26, 2013 Lizzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2012 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw an ad for The Big Fancy this morning and my first thought was "I see a new MiuMiu bag. I want 6 of them, 2 in black, 2 in pink and 2 in white. What do MEAN Miu Miu dosent make this handbag (not purse) in white????? Get on the phone FREEEEMMMMAAANNN and ORDER them to make me 2 bags in white and if you don't I'm going to complain and you'll get fired!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Then under that was a free gift with a 27.00 purchase and I swear Shopaucaur's voice went straight thru me -"Freeman, I want 5
Brenda Leavy
Mar 30, 2014 Brenda Leavy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retail
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
Robin Nicholas
Mar 10, 2010 Robin Nicholas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was written by someone who worked at Nordstrom in the Handbag Department for 15 years. He has changed all names and situations and calls the store in the book The Big Fancy....but it is Nordstrom. would think I would love this book considering I have worked there for over 20 years. Sorry, but this guy is not really that funny. He has chapters about different types of annoying customers.....sterotypes. Yes, I can see a glimmer of truth in there...but he goes so far over the top that ...more
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
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“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
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