“Did you come out to celebrate?” A day in the life of Autumn, a department store shoe worker.
- on May 29, 2023
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Morning commute. Ms. Autumn (a pseudonym) walks to work, even though she has to take the bus two stops to catch the train. Even when she leaves the train station, she walks to the next one.
“Unless I’m really sick, I’ll walk for 30 to 40 minutes,” she says, “because I need to move my body on purpose, and it’s hard to organize my logistics in the morning when I’m tired.”
When she arrives at the department store, Autumn grabs the paper bag she left at the store and heads to the employee restroom. One by one, the women from the 10 or so shoe stores on the same floor flock to the restroom with their bags. There are no locker rooms, there are sissy bars in the break room, and the store doesn’t have a “back room” (warehouse), so she changes into her work clothes in the restroom. Even before the store opens, employees are not allowed to use the customer restrooms, so I wait my turn in the three-stall restroom. This hassle applies to male employees as well, including managers. In another restroom at the same time.
“I used to wear jeans and tops to work,” he says, “but last year, all of a sudden, there was an announcement on the Hangouts and the department store reps went around and said that the rules had changed and we couldn’t wear what we were wearing.”
Instead, he was told to wear dress pants, dress shirts, and dress shoes. Black tops and bottoms, white shirts, sneakers as long as they were store-bought, but no navy blue or gray pants, only black! It was an unilateral directive. Autumn didn’t have any, so she bought new clothes at her own expense. Department stores require you to wear a suit to work, but it’s very cumbersome to work in a suit. You can see this when you move around the store yourself….
Reducing employee labor costs means more money for managers
“You have to sit down, get up, and put shoes on customers, which is very inactive. The shoe department is a lot of work. You have to try on each size, and each design has three colors: ivory, beige, and black, which are the basics, plus pink and navy, plus purple and gray for the season. You have to organize everything by size, and if you don’t have something that fits the customer, you have to go to the warehouse, which is at the other end of the store. It’s not comfortable.”
The dress code was more specific. Shirts should be buttoned all the way up to the neck. Male employees were asked to wear a tie if possible, although that didn’t work out.
“People who have been here for a long time said, ‘I worked in jeans 10 years ago,’ so how does it make sense that in 2023 I can’t wear jeans and I have to wear dress pants and a dress shirt? Of course, I’m here to make money, so I have to do it, but it’s not like it’s a school, so why do we have all these rules and regulations and restrictions?”
Autumn was working in a department store when she realized her dream.
“I had more than five years of experience, and I was like, ‘Oh, the doors are open for me, let’s get a manager, let’s get my own store, let’s make a lot of money,’ and I was gritting my teeth and working hard and holding on, and then I got burnout.”
She left the company, picked herself up, and came back to the department store, but for the first time, she worked as an employee in a sole proprietor’s store as a middle manager. Unlike direct stores, there was no labor contract, no major insurance, and no retirement benefits.
The middle manager, called a boss or manager, pays a deposit to the head office to manage the store and receives a commission of 15-20% of the monthly sales. He is managed and supervised by the department store and the head office, and the employees are hired and supervised by the manager. The manager reduces the cost of labor and auxiliary materials (courier fees, homeowner’s insurance, shopping bags) to increase his share, which violates the Labor Standards Act and the social insurance system regulations that apply to only one employee. When Autumn’s salary is calculated by the number of hours she works, it is less than the minimum wage, which violates the minimum wage law. But Ms. Autumn is not disappointed.
“I know from my sisters and brothers who worked in clothing and shoes that private stores don’t use labor contracts, and they don’t have four major insurances and retirement funds. When the headquarters don’t manage directly and leave the middle management to the private operators, it’s because it’s profitable for them, so they don’t have to be responsible for managing the workforce.”
“You’re supposed to be paying the bills, aren’t you?”
Autumn leaves work at 8 p.m스포츠토토. on weekdays and 8:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for overtime. Since she arrives at work an hour before the department store opens, she spends nine and a half to ten hours on her feet, not including lunch. Moreover, my middle manager puts a lot of pressure on sales, so I can’t even sit down for a moment and say, “Hello. This is ○○. Try these on inside. It’s a sale. We’ll make it cheaper for you,” and you have to do a lot of solicitation.
“If the store was bigger, it would be better because you could move around a lot, but it’s harder because you can’t. Oh, right! The manager is sitting down, looking at his laptop or his phone. I’m the only one who’s out in front of the store and I’m the only one who’s soliciting, and that’s it, you’re on your feet all day.”
Autumn still does most of the work of a manager, including sales, computerized registration, and inventory management, just as she did when she worked in her old store.
“I also take care of the returns during the spring-summer-fall-winter seasonal changes,” she says. “Our monthly sales are actually low, but the manager is very greedy for sales, so if we don’t make the daily sales he thinks we should, he’ll say something.”
Even though Autumn does half of the sales, the middle manager pushes her by setting sales targets that she can’t meet with the current store and staff size and treatment. She says she doesn’t know how to manage people. “Hey, if you come out, you have to pay your salary. Aren’t you here to make money? How many did you sell today? You have to pay for this. Are you here to celebrate?”
“It’s offensive. It would be nice to say something nice, but it hurts people’s egos. In the shoe department, most of the managers are men, and there are only one or two women out of ten, and when you talk to them so loudly and so hard, they can’t stand it and they leave quickly, and some of the men can’t stand it either.”
On the way home in the evening. Ms. Autumn is more relaxed than in the morning.