Friday, October 05, 2007


yesterday i went to the new Kohls store that opened in the gateway district. gateway is kind of a scuzzy, trashy, mixed-bag type area but it's not that far from where i live, so i do a lot of my shopping there. i wasn't that impressed by Kohls. the thing that stood out to me the most when i went into the store was the employees. i never realized how much the way a retail employee looks affects the way i feel when i shop.

gateway district being the scuzzy area that it is, i shouldn't have been surprised that most of the employees at the Kohls store looked really trashy. black and white, they all looked trashy. i mean, hey-it's in that neighborhood, it makes sense. but i didn't like it. besides most of the employees looking trashy, they didn't know what they were talking about when i asked them things. it was really obvious. when i shop, i guess i associate the employee with the actual company. isn't that marketing 101?

i will say, however that i do like shopping at the gateway fredmeyer because i figure that i'll never run into anyone i know from that area, so that on days where i 'm not looking my best, no one else will care or notice.

but somehow it's different when the employees at a clothing store are the ones who look trashy. not only did i not want to buy anything, but it was kind of distracting. i probably would have bought something there if it weren't for the employees.

when i found a coat that i really liked, i went to the register to put it on "24-hour hold" while i "thought" about it. the girl at the counter was kind of confused, like she didn't know what to do. when she called the manager over, it was this big, burly man, who wasn't very polished. all i remember was that he had a big pot belly with a sloppily tucked in shirt. he said,

"you want to put this on hold?"


"are you going to pick it up later?"

um, that's exactly what HOLD means. i will pick it up later. i gave him a funny look, as if to say, "duh....". i guess anyone can become store managers these days. i seriously don't think he even had a college degree. well, why should he, i guess. that would be kind of a waste to be working in retail with a college degree. but did he have any post high school education at all? i always think of store managers as looking professional and put-together, which he did not. at least, when i used to work retail back in my teenage days, all my managers appeared to be a step up from all the other employees.

my mom has told me before that i have an elitist attitude and she didn't know where i got it. i guess she's right. i don't know why. i honestly should have been born wealthy, because i'd fit right in mingling with the rich. maybe the reason why i can't stand snobs now is because deep down, i'm a snob but without a real reason to be. that's probably why i have such hard time accepting the fact that i don't live in one of the wealthy neighborhoods in portland. i shouldn't be here. in this neighborhood. growing up, i prettymuch had whatever i wanted, so now the fact that i live in a neighborhood that i don't care for is kind of disheartening. (my actual neighborhood is nice/average but it's not as upper class as i'd like it to be)

am i trashy like the employees at kohls and just don't know it? i seriously doubt it, but i guess i could be mistaken for someone trashy when i'm in that neighborhood.


simplymoi said...

LOL I feel the same way about family dollar a discount store in Florida. Whenever I go in which is when I'm at my last few pennies and I don't want to spend a lot I shop at family dollar OMG that store seems to hire all the trashy people in the area there always a pregnant cashier whether white, black , or Hispanic. Plus all the managers look like trailer trash and no one can answer a simple retail question like do you carry paper towels? I just grin and bear it and shop as quickly as I can because I may snap at someone at that store.

a said...

I understand where you're coming from. There are certain stores that I avoid because there isn't much expectation of quality from the merchandise or employees. And the managers aren't necessarily better.

I do take issue with your assumption that rich people are snobs. Money doesn't buy you class, or a personality, or a heart. People who act 'better than' because they have money are trashy. They also are laughed at behind their backs alot more than they probably realize.

No, not having the material things doesn't make you trashy.

What I don't quite understand is the paradox of your life. You like the neighborhood, the school, etc in one post, then in the next, you don't. It seems like you can't be find comfort or satisfaction either way. Would you be happier if you moved, or would you be intimidated and focused on how few black people are around, and whether everyone is looking down on you (perceived or otherwise)?

As always, I appreciate your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Why would you assume that its a waste to work retail with a college degree? That is plain ignorant. I know many people with college degrees (accounting/finance etc) that are baristas at coffee shops. They are not necessarily the managers. How a person dresses has nothing to do with their financial socioeconomic background. Thats just how they feel comfortable unlike you who can't be happy in any situation.

I'm sure you have seen people in porltand dressed in all black and piercings all over them, are you going to assume that they poor and trashy and uneducated, sometime they have more money because they save. You on the other hand spend every penny you have on name brand clothes to try and fit in and still not feel happy about yourself.

I shop at Kohls and I shop at Saks Fifth Ave yeah i do both. And you know what I feel more at eased at Kohls than Nordstroms or Saks. Am I trashy for shopping at Kohls? Am I a snob for shopping at Saks?

Anonymous said...

it sounds like to me you need to either accept what you have in your life, or bust your butt to improve it. It seems to me that you are ready to move out of your neighborhood but you are unwilling to make certain sacrifices that would be necessary it order for you to live in a more expensive area. Are there NO upper class black neighborhoods in portland?

That Black Girl said...

i don't believe i've ever said in a post that i necessarily like my neighborhood or the school. it's a decent neighborhood, but it wouldn't be my first choice if i had access to more money.

no, there aren't any upper class black neighborhoods in portland. the black neighborhoods were always lower middle class, but now they're being gentrified which is another post all together.

: JustaDog said...

Wow, I like this post! The only reason we had to go to Gateway was the lack of decent theaters in Eugene. Now with the River Valley theaters we haven't been to Gateway zone for over a year.

Don't worry, you definitely have the right attitude and awareness to get out of Springfield someday.

To anonymous who said Why would you assume that its a waste to work retail with a college degree? That is plain ignorant. I know many people with college degrees (accounting/finance etc) that are baristas at coffee shops. - the reason is because in Oregon the powers that be keep high tech jobs out of the state - this state is not business-friendly.

I guess if I had no choice I'd work retail - but it would be among my last choices.

Natalie said...

Working in the customer service industry I know plenty of well educated people who work in retail some of whom are managers and some of whom aren't. Most of them make 50k plus a year. That is why they work in retail.

Eva said...

I worked retail for years - most of it in NYC, which is different to PDX, but in many ways retail is retail.

AND you never know who you will find there. People from all over the world, with all kinds of backgrounds, gravitate to the job, depending on what they are selling. You do not need a degree, but some people have an amazing background. In fashion retail, I worked with people who worked for Halston in the 70s or had worked with Karl in the 80s, just as an example. I don't think a degree gives you the experience those people had.

More and more, I see this sort of demonization of the working class. Like it is just evil and or you must be a moron to be on the other side of the counter.

And Natalie is right, some of these people make a lot of money - and they deserve it, if they are going to have a specialized knowledge. They especially deserve it if they must be consistently nice to people who are not.

Aly Cat 121 said...

No Hon, you're not trashy and neither are the folks that you saw working at Kohl's. Everybody gotta eat.

some girl said...

I don't know what's going on with Kohls. I live in So Cal and noticed the same thing day before yesterday. Not only were the employees looking like they just crawled out of bed, most of the merchandise had been pulled of the shelves and was laying on the floor. Don't even get me started on the shoe dept.! Not ONE shoe had its match in the box.

I felt dirty for just being in there.

Leigh Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leigh Anne said...

My standard response when told I'm a snob is that I'm not.

Snobs are people who think they're better than everyone else. I don't think I'm better than anyone else...

I know I'm better than everyone else...!

Anonymous said...

Leigh anne, why can't prejudice and racism sieze in this country? I'll answer the question for you, because of ignorant people that feel like everyone else is carpet to be walked over. Hmmm, there is this law of science that says what goes up will fall down, this of in social science now, the better you think you are, the worst your gonna fall on your face.

Leigh Anne said...

Actually, Anonymous, I'm not American, I am proudly South African.

Ignorant people such as yourself - with your disastrous malapropisms, appalling spelling and complete lack of understanding of grammar - unwittingly reassure me of my superiority...

Yes, I am being mean. Yes, I am being supercilious...

But just like Rhett Butler, I don't give a damn...

(Olivia) said...

Wow... Kohls?! They need to fix management out there. At the Kohls I've been to, everyone is in business attire, very helpful, and have big fake smiles and chipperness lol.
I'm glad you are in contact with reality! I see so many people online laying claim to wealth they don't have; and scoffing others (possibly) similar to themselves.
However, I don't think being rich necessarily means you're not scuzzy or trashy. You can just afford tohide it better than a trashy poor/middle class person, lol.

jasmine said...

Leigh Anne - get over yourself. Seriously honey. Ooh, you used big words. I'm not impressed.

Anonymous said...

"Gentrified" neighborhoods in Portland. Another word for "I don't want to be the one to work for it". Instead of blaming the "white people" for FIXING NEIGHBORHOODS UP...follow local AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN'S leads and start investing. They made serious sacrifices to purchase buildings in somewhat questionable areas of Portland. I see them in my neighborhood (and YES...I AM white) writing down license plate numbers, information, seedy business names at 2:00am. BLACK WOMEN. Not me. THEY are taking part into making the neighborhood a more desirable place and I am up watching THEM in amazment. Yet...they do the work to make it a great place, "white people" get the blame for gentrification. All I did was buy the house I could afford in a neighborhood that I liked the architecture/stores/amenites, etc. Silly me.

The Letter K said...

You say you should have been rich because you'd "fit right in mingling with the rich".

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you wouldn't fit in. Your constant obsession with talking about money (not thinking about it) would signal to everyone in the room how very new you are.

They'd be polite to you in your face, but when you left, you'd be the laughingstock of the entire event. Your husband doesn't have a college degree, with no money to his name? You would not be invited into the living room.

Believe me--I've seen it happen, and it's not pretty.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand where you are coming from. There is a Rite-Aid and Eckerd(sp?) right next to each other but i always go into the eckerd first because the store is much cleaner and well put together and the employers are very nice experience and know what they are talking about when i speak to them. but at the Rite-Aid every week there is a new employe and they are all high school students trying to make a quick buck, not well put together and don't know anything they are talking about or doing. So its Ekerd for me all the way.

Elaina said...

Hi, I am a black 24f and I live in mostly white neighborhood near Lake Oswego, we have alot of money and nice cars. However, I like shopping at K-mart (way trashy employees) for my baby products because it makes me feel uppity. ha-ha. I can afford anything in the store! This must be what it feels like to shop in Bridgeport for leisure and not get followed?

keep it real said...

I totally agree with you about this blog because i believe that a employee represent that store and the quality of that store merchandise and feel the same about the restuarants that i choose to eat at. I've have notice this behavior is done alot in an area that is mostly black and it makes me sick to see anyone treated this way regardless where they live.

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