40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000s

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWorking at Spencers Was Never Straight Forward

Spencer Gifts – or Spencer’s – has been doing business in North American malls since way back in 1947. Well, the retailer started out as a mail-order catalog, but eventually opened up in its first mall in 1963. The store is known for its novelty and gag gifts, as well as clothing, merch, collectibles, and a range of adult items. The stores themselves are almost always dark, and almost always stink of incense. Check out these stories from people that worked at the store.

Show Me Inside the Can

As you’ll learn from this list, rather a lot of Spencer’s employees steal from the company. These thieving staff members have various methods for walking away with free stuff, but this one is particularly inspired.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sShow Me Inside the Can

According to this post, a Spencer’s manager was jokingly asked to open up the Pringles can they were carrying. Alas, once they cracked the lid, it revealed a tube full of jewelry. Now, thanks to this creative shoplifter, Spencer’s make sure to check employees’ bottles.

Please Put That Back

This next bit of insight from working in Spencer’s could be true of a lot of retail stores. For some reason, or a bunch of reasons, many shoppers don’t think it’s necessary to put things back where they found them.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sPlease Put That Back

Instead, they just set random items down wherever they’re standing as if they’ll be reorganized by a group of hardworking fairies. Anyone that’s worked retail knows that the majority of the job is reorganizing things that you just organized.

Check Out My Inventory

And so soon we have yet another Spencer’s employee that stole from the store. Or rather, we have yet another Spencer’s manager that stole from the store. In this case, a Spencer’s employee ended up at their manager’s home for a New Year’s Eve party, and were proudly shown a room full of stolen goods.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sCheck Out My Inventory

This Spencer’s employee saw at least 10 boxes filled with stolen inventory. Seriously, how did Spencer’s ever have enough stock to actually sell?

Destroying the Merchandise

Well, in relation to our previous question, Spencer’s did actually have plenty of stock, regardless of common staff thefts. Actually, the store has a policy similar to other retailers where they destroy any excess stock.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sDestroying the Merchandise

Retailers do this because they don’t want anyone to be able to get their merchandise for free, or at a discount price. This way, they protect their brand by making sure that only paying customers can access it. Obviously, this is pretty messed up.

We’ll Take Care of This

Another major part of working in retail is dealing with shoplifters. In most cases, companies have their own loss prevention teams that deal with these sorts of issues. They watch customers via CCTV, and are tasked with spotting anything shifty.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWe’ll Take Care of This

The person who wrote this post worked in a Spencer’s that didn’t prosecute shoplifters. This meant that the employees took matters into their own hands by scaring off thieves. We’re not sure what we make of this vigilante justice, but it sounds like Spencer’s.

Spot the Spencer’s Secret Shoppers

According to this next former Spencer’s employee, the store is particularly focused on customer service. As with many other retailers, the company employs secret shoppers to come into the store and test the employees. In order to pass these types of assignments, employees have to operate at their absolute best.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sSpot the Spencer’s Secret Shoppers

According to this person, Spencer’s employees have to hit certain goals within a particular period of time. In this case, that meant meeting, greeting, and re-approaching customers in the correct timeframe.

Saved From the Trash

We’ve already mentioned that Spencer’s policy is to destroy unsold items so that no one can get them for free, or at a discounted price. According to this post, these items weren’t sent elsewhere, placed on clearance, or donated – they were just trashed.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sSaved From the Trash

So, this Spencer’s store had a slightly different policy. Led by the manager, each member of staff could have their pick of unwanted merch. This way, employees were able to enjoy some free products, and nobody had to know.

Making Trades With Mallrats

1995 buddy comedy Mallrats follows a bunch of kids as they hang out in a mall. While the film was a flop at the time, it became a cult classic. Nowadays, being a “mall rat” still refers to teens that like to spend their time hanging out close to the food court.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sMaking Trades With Mallrats

According to this former Spencer’s employee, the mall rats particularly enjoyed hanging out in the dark section of the store. Plus, they made pretty good shoplifting trades.

Looting the Lasers

As we’ve just mentioned, Spencer’s stores have dark sections. In these atmospheric areas, customers can peruse or purchase lasers, strobe lights, lava lamps, and anything else luminescent.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sLooting the Lasers

The thing is, these items are particularly difficult to steal. It’s one thing to slip a keychain in your pocket or stuff a t-shirt down your pants, but it’s quite another to make it out with a laser. Seriously, did these kids think this through at all?

Can I Help You, Sir?

We’ll admit that we found this next post particularly amusing. According to this former Spencer’s employee, people would just walk into the store and then pretend that they worked there. That’s right — these people approached customers, answered their questions, and then helped them out.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sCan I Help You, Sir?

We love the idea of actual Spencer’s staff standing on the sidelines watching random people serving their customers. We don’t understand why anyone would choose to do this, but it makes us laugh nonetheless.

Wave to the Customer

We should mention that Spencer’s is known for being a store that sells somewhat questionable items. The company has all sorts of gag gifts and novelties, but also has a “Love” section with some adult items. As you might imagine, this attracts plenty of strange characters.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWave to the Customer

According to this post, a particular customer would enter the store each Tuesday and tour the store in a particular order. Then, before leaving, he would stand by the door and wave until someone said “goodbye.” Weird.

Follow the Folding Rules

We’re not particularly surprised by this next anecdote about working in Spencer’s, as it’s pretty similar to what goes down in other retailers. This person claims that Spencer’s employees were required to fold their t-shirts in a very specific manner. If they didn’t, they’d be written up.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sFollow the Folding Rules

We’re pretty sure this is standard procedure for stores that sell clothing. After all, without a specific folding method, all the t-shirts would be stacked differently. Of course, getting written up for it seems pretty extreme.

It’s All Up in Flames

Speaking about the t-shirt wall, our next post paints a pretty apocalyptic picture of a Spencer’s store. According to this former Spencer’s worker, a colleague once set an entire wall of t-shirts on fire. How did this happen? Well, the person in question decided to break a zip-tie by setting it on fire.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sIt’s All Up in Flames

Just in case you haven’t heard his before — don’t use fire to break a zip-tie, especially when that zip-tie is around lots of flammable material.

Fancy a Radish?

When we read this post, we instantly thought of The Office’s Dwight Shrute, beet farmer extraordinaire. In an episode of the sitcom, Shrute tries to buy a figurine from a store in the mall, but the store employees are alarmed by his ragged appearance.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sFancy a Radish?

Dressed in overalls and stained with beet juice, Shrute scares the store workers off and ends up hatching a plan to return, Pretty Woman style. Hilariously, this post seems to feature Dwight’s radish farming counterpart.

Here Comes Another One

Stereotypically, when people think of shoplifters, they think of teenagers. Usually, we imagine a group of young people working together – some distract employees and ask questions, while others stock up on goodies.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sHere Comes Another One

However, while teenage shoplifters did operate at Spencer’s, they weren’t the worst culprits. In fact, according to this former employee, middle-aged women were the most likely to steal. We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that they were more interested in the Love section than the keychains.

Let Me Try it On

Most people think nothing of walking into a store and trying on a hat. In fact, specifically going somewhere to try on hats is kind of fun. Who doesn’t want to pose in a cute beanie, or see if they suit a fedora? We know we do.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sLet Me Try it On

This Spencer’s employee points out that around four people try on the same hat each night. If you think about it, that’s four different sets of hair, or four different opportunities to catch lice.

Hitting the Club

One of the most notable things about Spencer’s stores is the fact that they’re always kind of dark. Browsing in Spencer’s isn’t the same as strolling around The Gap or trying out gadgets in Sharper Image. Nope, spending time in Spencer’s is more like hanging in Hollister or Hot Topic.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sHitting the Club

According to this employee, Spencer’s purposely make their stores dark to create a club-like atmosphere. Considering the company’s slogan is, “Lifes a party, were making it fun,” this makes sense.

Empty Your Pockets

We’ve learned that Spencer’s has a bit of a shoplifting issue, particularly in the case of its own staff. In order to combat this, the company makes its employees use clear or mesh bags so that loss prevention workers can spot when people are shoplifting.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sEmpty Your Pockets

This sounds like a pretty intense policy, though. Workers have to lift up their pant legs at the end of shifts and breaks to prove that they aren’t smuggling merchandise off the premises.

Top Secret Information

For some reason, this next former Spencer’s employee had a boss that was pretty intense about the store’s playlist. Indeed, this manager must have been so controlling about the store’s selection of songs that they made it a fireable offense to share it with anyone.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sTop Secret Information

We don’t understand how a Spencer’s playlist could possibly be so top secret. Surely someone could just stand in the store for 30 minutes, write down some of the tunes, and piece it together themselves.

Training Complete, Off You Go!

From everything we’ve read so far, this post does give us particular cause for concern. According to this person, when they worked for Spencer’s, they were “trained” to pierce customer’s ears. This detailed training involved a piercing gun, a piece of paper, and a dot. After it was completed, this person was free to pierce.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sTraining Complete, Off You Go!

Did you know that piercing guns can be damaging to your ears? Because they pierce with such force, they can shatter your ear cartilage.

Everyone Just Help Themselves

We’ve heard this before, and we’ll hear it again, but here’s yet more evidence that Spencer’s employees are pretty into stealing from the store. This person estimates that around 50% of thefts at their store were committed by employees, and points out that it wasn’t just sales clerks.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sEveryone Just Help Themselves

According to this person — and many others on this list — Spencer’s managers are just as likely to steal as their junior colleagues. We reckon that if this is such a huge problem, it’s somehow the company’s fault.

I’m Never Coming Back

As we know, Spencer’s sells some items that are a little controversial. For example, their Love section sells adult items, their clothing can feature vulgar language, and they have no issue poking fun at politics or religion. As you might imagine, this isn’t to everyone’s taste.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sI’m Never Coming Back

As this post from a former Spencer’s employee describes, one of their customers slammed a supposedly offensive Christmas card onto the counter and declared she’d never shop there again. That makes sense to us.

Breathe it In

If you’ve ever visited a Spencer’s, and then someone mentions Spencer’s to you at a later date, you might instantly be reminded of the pungent smell that lingers in most of their stores.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sBreathe it In

You might think this is just the stench of hundreds of passing teenagers and creepy men, but it’s actually multiple types of incense being burned at once. Generally, when you burn incense, you choose one scent and stick with it. In Spencer’s, as with many things, it’s a free-for-all.

After Hours Was Always Fun

Next up on our tour of Spencer’s is this small piece of insight from a former employee. This person seems to have loved their time working at Spencer’s gifts, and has handily listed everything they enjoyed about the job.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sAfter Hours Was Always Fun

According to this person, working for Spencer’s meant flexible hours, being around lots of fun merchandise, and a “total lack of responsibility.” They also mention that after-hours was a particularly enjoyable time, so we don’t even want to guess what that entails.

We’d Like to Make a Return

We were interested to learn that Spencer’s is a particularly popular destination for studios to purchase props. According to this person, studio assistants would arrive at the store and purchase hundreds of dollars worth of products. Then, the items would end up in TV shows and movies.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWe’d Like to Make a Return

As you can see, the downfall of this habit was that the studios would return basically everything they purchased. That’s a lot of refunds to deal with, but who can say no to Hollywood?

That Creeps Me Out

Spencer’s has a pretty hefty horror section, and it even has its own pop-up seasonal store named Spirit Halloween. This former Spencer’s employee didn’t enjoy spending time around the store’s Ouija boards, and felt creepy being in their presence.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sThat Creeps Me Out

Did you know that Ouija boards weren’t always associated with spirits or ghostly presences? For a while, before World War I, the board was just an innocent parlor game. Of course, now Ouija boards are considered controversial by some religious communities, while scientists argue they can be debunked.

Stop Staring at Me!

This former Spencer’s employee makes a great point. While Spencer’s sells costumes, apparel, and even underwear, the store doesn’t provide customers with fitting rooms. As a result, many guests just whip their clothes off right there on the shop floor.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sStop Staring at Me!

This leads to a chaotic scene, with half-dressed people pulling on costumes. More bizarrely, these stripped-down customers would then get irritated when other customers looked at them. Only in Spencer’s.

How Dare You Work Here

We’ve talked about the fact that some people just don’t like Spencer’s. They disagree with the merchandise on offer, they don’t like the t-shirt slogans, and they think the whole thing is just disrespectful.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sHow Dare You Work Here

Unfortunately for Spencer’s employees, these people don’t address their hatred of the store by staying far away from it. Instead, these haters accompany their kids to the store and give dirty looks to the staff. As it turns out, the staff have nothing to do with what the store sells.

Your Friend Till the End

Terrifying horror movie character Chucky first became known in the Child’s Play movies. The slasher flicks feature the spirit of a serial killer living inside a child’s doll, and have been wildly popular.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sYour Friend Till the End

There are multiple movies featuring the character, as well as comic strips and an upcoming 2021 TV series. Naturally, Spencer’s sold Chucky dolls. When this staff member was asked if the doll was real, he was sure to keep the magic alive.

I’ll Just Try These On

When you work in retail, you realize that people are unpredictable, strange, and really, really annoying. It’s a sad truth of life, but the general public is generally pretty awful. Just take this story as an example.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sI’ll Just Try These On

This Spencer’s story features a customer who entered the store and then proceeded to shoplift multiple t-shirts by putting them all on at once. While this might work tucked away in a fitting room, it certainly doesn’t work out on the shop floor.

Time for More Tattoos

Several of the Spencer’s employees we’ve heard from so far have admitted they enjoyed their time working at the store. This person feels the same, but is a little bitter about how little the company pays. After reading this person’s experience with corporate, we aren’t as surprised that employees steal so much from the store.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sTime for More Tattoos

This person also notes that customers hit on female staff members a lot. Finally, this former employee closes by revealing that the store encourages staff to get more tattoos and piercings.

One of the Worst

Next, we move from someone who had a reasonable time working at Spencer’s to the total opposite. This person says that gag retailer is one of the worst companies they’ve ever worked for, and complains about getting written up for everything.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sOne of the Worst

This employee called on the way into work to let his employer know they were running late. When they arrived seven minutes after their shift, they were fired. This person claims that the retailer has high staff turnover because of their poor policies.

Pocketing the Profits

Here’s another Spencer’s staff member that loved to dip their hand in the company profits. This post tells the story of a wannabe Spencer’s supervisor who was told they weren’t ready for the job and needed to learn from their own supervisor.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sPocketing the Profits

When this person started paying attention to their supervisor’s actions, they noticed that they were stealing hundreds of dollars every single shift. When the person who wrote this post informed the store manager, they didn’t believe them.

Trash, or Trunk?

As we know, retailers – and especially fashion retailers – usually destroy any merchandise they can’t sell. Rather than donate something, or put it on clearance, these stores just toss perfectly good items in the trash. It’s really wasteful, and it’s also pretty selfish.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sTrash, or Trunk?

That’s why we have no problem with the former Spencer’s staff members that didn’t toss unwanted merch in the trash. The person who wrote this post tucked things into their trunk instead, and we’re definitely in support of that decision.

Is Life a Party?

As our next post points out, the slogan for Spencer’s gifts is “Life’s a party, make it fun!” Of course, this is supposed to represent the company’s brand, including the products it sells and the customers it’s trying to attract. By making the store seem like a party, more people are likely to visit it.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sIs Life a Party?

However, this former employee points out that the store is just as corporate as anywhere else. While the store might project a partying vibe, it’s really all about the bottom line.

Keep That to Yourself

You might assume that the average Spencer’s customer is a teenage boy buying Rick and Morty t-shirts and a new packet of incense to burn in the basement. However, we’ve already learned that the group most likely to steal from the store is middle-aged women.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sKeep That yo Yourself

According to this post, the store is also frequented by lots of church-going and conservative folks. As we know, being serious and formal on the outside doesn’t actually mean you’re that way on the inside.

We’re Not Exactly Child Friendly

We’ve mentioned the Love section in Spencer’s stores, and now we’re hearing about the Bachelorette section. You might think that you would keep children away from stores that sell adult items, but with Spencer’s, that’s just not the case.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWe’re Not Exactly Child Friendly

This former Spencer’s shift lead reveals that many parents visiting Spencer’s would let their children run wild in the store. This led to lots of kids in the all pink bachelorette section, and then dirty looks from the parents in question.

We Have to Say No

This is a strange story, but as with most strange stories, we believe they’d happen in Spencer’s. This former Spencer’s shift leader and assistant manager was faced with a customer that wanted to buy some edible clothing using food stamps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spencer’s aren’t able to accept such methods of payment.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWe Have to Say No

This former employee does point out that technically, they should have been able to exchange the food stamps for edible clothing, since the clothing is also technically food.

Time for a Raise

We’ve seen some hints so far that Spencer’s don’t exactly pay their employees a very good wage. In fact, we’re pretty confident they pay staff the minimum wage, which is itself far off the living wage. With this post, we have more evidence that the company is pretty tight-fisted.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sTime for a Raise

This person says they worked at Spencer’s for almost six years as a manager, and only had an annual raise of between 10-24 cents. Obviously, that’s completely outrageous. Do years of service not mean anything?

Getting Guidance From Grandma

We’ve learned that Spencer’s can be a pretty liberating or a pretty crushing place to be, both as a customer and an employee. This story sees a teenage girl come in with her elderly grandmother in order to buy an adult product.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sGetting Guidance From Grandma

Even though this teenage girl was “red as a watermelon” with embarrassment, we actually think it’s pretty sweet that she was able to go shopping like this with her grandmother. Plus, her grandma must be pretty great.

Spooky at Spencer’s

This little bit of insight from a former Spencer’s worker shows some of the benefits of working at the store. This person decided to apply for a job at the mall retailer so they could lean into their spooky side.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sSpooky at Spencer’s

This is actually a great idea, because it’s not easy getting a job at Abercrombie & Fitch if you’re covered in body piercings and donning a choker. At least Spencer’s gives the alternative kids somewhere to work – if only it paid them more.

The Creepy Customer

We purposely haven’t focused on all the creepy characters that linger around Spencer’s stores. Obviously, because the store sells adult items, it attracts all sorts of weirdos who want to look, touch, but never buy.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sThe Creepy Customer

The person who wrote this post remembers an elderly customer that entered the store every single day to stare at the bikini posters. Because this creepy behavior isn’t illegal, the store employees could do nothing about it. We say no loiterers!

Would This Fit Me?

We did laugh when we read this next tidbit about working in Spencer’s. The store sells body jewelry, including belly button rings, nose bars, and all sorts of cute shapes to stick in your ear lobes, eyebrows, or wherever else you’ve put a hole.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sWould This Fit Me?

But, what does this mean for Spencer’s employees? Well, according to this post, it means seeing lots of unsolicited nipples.

Getting Rid of the Kids

Because it’s not practical to prosecute every single person who shoplifts from Spencer’s, employees often take things into their own hands. We’ve already met former employees on this list who have admitted to taking pleasure in torturing under-age thieves by interrogating them and making them cry.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sGetting Rid of the Kids

The person who wrote this post fondly recalls a “huge” colleague of theirs who used to silently stare at anyone helping themselves to free merch. We’d choose this over an interrogation any day.

This Doesn’t Feel Right

And finally, we close our list of stories from former Spencer’s employees with a familiar tale. As we know, it’s Spencer’s policy to destroy unwanted, unpopular, or returned items. This means that staff has to sit around cutting up purses and permanently damaging things that could be used by others.

40+ Stories From People Who Worked at Spencer’s in the Early 2000sThis Doesn’t Feel Right

We’re happy to hear that most former Spencer’s employees find this practice messed up. With any luck, retailers will stop doing this sometime soon, and find it in themselves to make some overdue donations.

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