Eight miles away from rural Slippery Rock there lies a shopping destination for one and all.
A place where you can find clothing, food, kitchen accessories, tools, and a variety of other types of items.
The Grove City Area Outlet Mall hosts about 130 stores, and offers thousands of products to hundreds of thousands of customers of all creeds, nationalities, genders, and outlooks.
In addition, it provides employment for tons of both local and long-distance high school students, college students, and working adults.
As an employee of two stores for about four years, I’ve pretty much seen it all. In addition, many of my friends work at the outlets, or have in the past.
These are their stories.
Now, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot here. Working at the outlets is nowhere near as grisly as the heinous crimes we see on the different Law and Orders.
I personally don’t mind working with the public most of the time, and the conditions are not as cramped or restricted as with other malls.
Yet there are some horror stories that can be told about various experiences, such as the mall’s need to stay open during horrible weather conditions, bad customer experiences, or really long shifts that just seem to drag on forever.
Let’s start out with the positives, though. Because that’s mainly where my story lies: in the relative goodness of the Grove City Area Outlet Mall.
I worked at the Black & Decker Factory Outlet Store for about three and half years before the store was shut down, due to no fault of the outlet mall.
I enjoyed my time at Black & Decker for the most part, and was actually promoted towards the end of my term.
The atmosphere was laid back, which I know is not universal amongst the mall.
In addition, my employment helped me learn more than I already knew about tools and kitchen appliances.
I worked with a good friend from high school and now college and I grew close to my fellow employees.
The pay wasn’t exactly awesome, but I could have been working at one of my prior jobs: McDonald’s.
In comparison, Black & Decker was a whirlwind of awesomeness and sheer delight every second of every shift.
Now, on to what you’re probably reading this for: the negative aspects of working in the mall.
Most people would cite poor customer experiences as their biggest pet peeve in working in retail, or working with the public in general.
There’s always going to be that customer that unfolds all the clothing, opens all the boxes, and misplaces items throughout the store.
There’s also always going to be that customer that asks 5,000 questions, half of which could be answered by reading conveniently-placed signs or by thinking things through more.
Finally, there’s always going to be that customer that comes in with a chip on their shoulder and decides that whatever you do, you won’t be able to appease them.
Sometimes, depending on where exactly in the mall you work, you could deal with all of these types of customers on a daily basis. I really hope not, but I’m aware that’s a distinct possibility.
Despite all of this, most customers have good hearts. They mean well, and are just looking to help support a company by purchasing products that they need.
But poor customer experiences aren’t the only thing holding the outlet mall back from being a better place to work.
Sometimes shifts can run upwards of 10 hours, leaving you drained and physically exhausted, even though you open the next morning.
Furthermore, sometimes extreme weather conditions will come about and the mall will decide that staying open for an extra hour or two is worth letting the roads get all snowed and iced up.
While they do offer discounted rates on local hotels, that wouldn’t be feasible for employees with families or college students with tight budgets.
Overall, I haven’t had too much of a negative experience at the Grove City Area Outlet Mall.
Although there have been circumstances and scenarios where I didn’t appreciate my job as much as I would have normally, no experience has caused me to up and quit.
Despite this, I am aware that many people, some of which I know personally, have had such a bad time at their job that they have left their jobs.
Different strokes for different folks and everybody has a different opinion on everything.
Overall, the Outlet Mall seems to be what you make, and how you respond to what it is.