image of The Stuff Depot

A Minimalist’s Experience Working for a Big-Box Store

Well, here it is, my big confession: I had a job working part-time at a big-box store for six months. As someone who leads a minimalist lifestyle, I had days where I wanted to lash out against the company and my co-workers, or scream out to customers; “YOU DON’T NEED ALL THIS STUFF”!

So what was it like working for the planet’s largest renovation chain? Well, the first time around it was fun. Back in 2014 I sold flooring and tile, and had a great time educating people on how to install said products. But like I said, that was back in 2014, before I decided to sell all my stuff and moved abroad.

After returning from an adventurous adventure mid 2017, I snagged a part-time role working as a member of the Merchandising Team, aka: Helpful Janitor. I cleaned up aisles, changed labels, and made product and displays look pretty. It was pretty mind-numbing, to say the least. And it was also a real eye-opener of how a big-box store truly operates.

WASTE, WASTE, & MORE WASTE

What bothered me wasn’t so much the amount of waste—wait, yes it was. But it was also the carelessness ABOUT said waste. Employees seemed to shrug their shoulders at it, with a certain carelessness to both the waste, saving the company money, and possibly helping the environment. Unnecessary printing. Lack of recycling. Perfectly good product thrown out to the compactor which ends up in a landfill.

Now, to be fair, Homey D. Po does do a great job when it comes to recycling cardboard. One issue I encountered, though, was that many employees just didn’t care. They’d toss a cardboard box into the garbage rather than in the cardboard compactor/baler. Or they’d toss paper into the garbage when it too was allowed to go into the baler. Employees were even taught this about the paper, yet they’d do it anyway. And it was senior employees, department supervisors and even store managers doing this!

Then there was metal product and/or garbage. The store could have made some good coin re-selling scrap metal to a metal supermarket. But that just ended up in the trash too.

And lastly, there’s the perfectly good product. This one time (no, not at band camp) that I found a dead chipmunk in a garbage can that was for sale (the garbage can was for sale, not the dead chipmunk). Poor guy fell into the garbage and likely starved or died of exhaustion trying to get out. If that little chippy was featured on 1000 Ways to Die, I think they’d have gone with “Alvin, Simon, Theo-dead!” as his headline. Anyway, because there was a death in the garbage can, it had to be tossed. What a waste of a perfectly good chipmunk coffin.

Sometimes, when a product’s life cycle comes to an end, it gets donated to Habitat for Humanity. Other times, it gets sent back to a vendor. Failing those two avenues, if an employee doesn’t snag it, it more than likely gets tossed.

F@CKING PRICE LABELS!

Okay, I fricken HATE price labels now. Well, not that I ever had some weird infatuation for price labels before this gig. The thing is, labels get dinged up pretty easily at a reno store. So we had to change a $hitload of labels every week. Then there are times prices change, so we’d have to go around the store changing labels.

But then there are times when clever marketing peeps like to F with your head, and the price doesn’t change at all, but they change the colour of the label from white to yellow, because yellow = DISCOUNT!

There would be times the bottom of my shopping cart would be covered with used labels. And I was on a team of five doing the same thing. Our store would likely have filled 1/4 of a shopping cart. There were four stores in our region, so that’s a full shopping cart for this region alone…of F@CKING PRICE LABELS!

My time living in Panama did teach me to look at the bright side of things though…so here’s the bright side of doing labels. Once in a while I’d come across labels like this one and couldn’t help but giggle:

SEASONAL RESETS

It wasn’t all bad and painfully lobotomizing, though. Every few weeks we would undertake what is called a “RESET”. A reset is when an area of store (usually the Seasonal department) would be “reset” with new product and the old product moved back to it’s original place elsewhere in the store.

Fall Reset

This is when all the rakes (for leaf raking), yard-waste bags (for leaf-bagging), leaf-blowers (for leaf-blowing), and patio furniture (for sitting and having a beer after all the leaf work) would be brought out to the Seasonal area (typically the front of the store) and be set at various levels of discount for your consumerist pleasure.

Halloween Reset

The leaf fun is over, and now the Halloween stuff comes out in full force. If you haven’t noticed, retailers are going big on Halloween, and Homey D. Po is no different. Halloween is the 2nd highest revenue season for retail, behind Christmas. Want a bargain? Wait until October 30th to buy it – it’s WAY Cheaper than when it first comes out.

Christmas Reset

Right before Halloween day, the Christmas reset begins. The Seasonal department looks like a hybrid of both occasions, sometimes with ghost and ghoul inflatables sharing space with Santa and his magical reindeer. Ah Christ-a-ween, the holiday that never gets recognized.

The Christmas reset sucks a$$. Every other piece of decor seems to have glitter on it, so you end up covered in glitter. And that $hit isn’t easy to get off, save a full-blown shower. But even then, it’s on your clothes, in your hair, it really should be considered a bio hazard. In fact, handling glitter should involve hazard pay.

But there are silver linings that come with the Christmas reset. If you’re childish (like me) then you get to do some fun stuff with the Christmas displays, like this:

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Storage Event Reset

All the Christmas stuff is marked down and F@cking price labels are all in yellow for your convenience. This is also when all the storage totes, shelving units, tool boxes and whatnot are brought in so you have totes and boxes to put away your Christmas decor, and for dudes who got tools to get that tool box/chest/bench they’ll need for all the tools they got for Christmas.

Spring Reset

And then there’s the spring reset, which is the mother of all resets, because spring is evidently the time of year that everyone needs to buy a new:

…lawnmower
…weed wacker
…hose
…plants/shrubs (okay, this one makes sense)
…sheds
…garden gnomes
…mulch
…patio furniture
…seeds
…dirt
…and much, much, much more stuff!

The thing is, I never got to see the epic spring reset, because I quit. I used to be quite loyal to the orange of HD, but now, I’d rather give my money to a better cause than a big-box store, like people selling stuff online, or yard sales, or thrift shops, or habitat for humanity (their Re-Store is a gold mine!)

Now go sell all your stuff and avoid the big-box store!

 

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