by Nathan Stout
Yeah, you know…
Retail can be a dangerous place. Let me relay some tales of things I experienced working at the South Freeway Kmart in Fort Worth, TX in the 90’s.
Back before suing people was the way to get rich in the US the typical retail employee could assist in apprehending shoplifters. As you know from the previous blogs my department (Automotive and Sporting Goods) was located at the back of the store. Automotive was right next to the offices, break room, loss prevention office, and the public restrooms…
Let me take just a moment out of my story telling to let you in on the nastiest place in the universe. Yes you guessed it, the rest room at that Kmart. It was BAD. So bad that think I only ever went in there maybe twice in the four years I worked there. It was like entering the gates of hell to walk into that place. This is a place where people went to DESTROY. Even when it was ‘clean’ it smelled. You avoided it, you really did. OK, back to the story.
After the loss prevention guys would bust someone at the front doors as they walked out with their ill gotten pantyhose (or whatever) they would haul the offender to the loss prevention office and keep them there until the police arrived. This always seemed to take FOREVER. The loss prevention guys would have to fill out all this paper work as well. Since they had to come and go to get prices, etc they would employ anyone nearby with any size (enter me) to stand in the doorway to make sure the perp wouldn’t bolt. Looking back now I would politely decline knowing that most of those guys were hopped up on something.
Once I was in my department ‘facing’ isles when I heard a commotion and looked over just in time to see the perp escape the office and head down the oil and air filer isle making a break for it. The loss prevention guy did this flying tackle and I heard a royal crash. They careened into the shelving and sent like 24 feet of shelving and product onto the floor. It looked like a tornado went through there. Guess who had to pick that crap up…
Once a perp (high on something) escaped and got away from the loss prevention guys (who by the way thought they were hot shit). After a couple of hours someone heard something up in the ceiling of the HR office. The guy got up into the ceiling in his drug induced haze and thought he could wait it out. It might have been that guy but someone they busted was really crackered out and had to be hogtied by the Fort Worth Police and drug out the back of the store.
Speaking of loss. My Kmart had faulty front doors. Often I would come to work at 4ish and find the front doors gone and filled with plywood. This happened really often. I am guessing that in the 4 years I was there it happened like 10 times. What kind of faulty carpentry was going on there? If you have ever been to any retail store you know the front doors are pretty big with about 4 sets of double doors in them. Well, this desperate gang of… I don’t know… nicotine addicts??? would drive a van through the big glass front during the night and make their way to the cigarette cases that were just inside and to the left of the doors. This was back when cigarette smoking was still ‘alright’ and the cases took up a large portion of the front wall of the store. They stole everything they could get out of those cases (for resale at Trader’s Village I’m sure). Towards the end of my tenure and the end of the store they finally got smart and put in some of those concrete poles to prevent this.
One of the duties or areas of responsibility I had was the Sporting Goods counter. This is where I (a 17 year old) sold guns and ammunition. I also sold hunting and fishing licenses. We also carried live worms for fishing too. You must remember this Kmart is smack dab in the middle of the city. My coworker and the lady who taught me all the ropes refused to even open the box that had the little Styrofoam containers of worms.
Later when I went full time I had to do the gun inventory where I had to go into the ‘gun room’ and count the guns. I came up short a couple of guns once. I reported it to loss prevention and that was it. No biggie I guess…
Next to the gun room was the bowling ball back stock area and drill. Kmart had a section in Sporting Goods for bowling (a lost art nowadays). We could custom fit, drill, and even stamp your name on a ball. One day I decided I wanted to learn how to drill the balls so I took the manual home and read it. It was pretty easy to drill the finger holes but the stamping of the name was much more of an art and I probably ruined 4 or 5 balls because I screwed up the stampings. You had these little dies and you had to use a tool to press it down on the ball but you had to use just the right amount of pressure or it would look bad. Both Wade and I got our own bowling balls during the big heist which you can read about on day 7 of the Kmart blog.
Join us next time for more adventures in retail including gun toting grannies, blue lights, and epic paint spills!