Thursday, April 05, 2012


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Recently, I read a list of terms at work that had been catalogued into a company-style “Wikipedia” document. While useful for those who might be new to the retail industry, it failed to include many descriptive words and phrases that are routinely used in the business.

To correct this oversight, I created my own colorful dictionary of slang terms. What follows here is a catalog of retail-speak gathered from personal memory:

Apologize Profusely – Standard technique to placate an unhappy customer.

Attaboy/Attagirl – A compliment given for work well done.

Big Cheese – A manager or supervisor.

Boned – To be cheated or treated unfairly.

Busted/Busted Down – Demoted for cause. Punished.

Bust It Out – To do work; to finish a task or project.

Carry – To include an item in the regular store inventory. (Also: To make up for the poor performance of a weak employee by squeezing more productivity out of others in the same department.)

Cater – To please someone with an excessive amount of care. (Ex: “He catered to her with the schedule.”)

Chain Call – The process of spreading an important message by one store calling the next. Now, largely superceded by e-mail messages.

Cheese Wedge – Subordinates to a manager or supervisor.

Close to Open – A late shift followed by an early shift, offering little time to rest.

Company Hack – Someone employed directly at the corporate office.

Company Visit – To call on a store for purposes of enforcing corporate guidelines and procedures.

Cry – To complain incessantly; to whine.

Cut In – To make a spot for a particular item, on the shelf.

Cut & Slam – To stock shelves at a furious pace, when store conditions have deteriorated due to heavy customer traffic.

Dinkster – Something small in nature or size.

Dog – A portable step-up used to reach high shelves. Pulled by its ‘tail’ – a length of string or rope.

Dumped On – To routinely receive the worst work assignments. (Also: to be criticized by a supervisor or another employee.)

Eight Hundred Call – A customer complaint via the company 800 number.

File Like A Phone Book – An employee who has numerous disciplinary actions documented in their personnel file; one who has been written-up repeatedly.

Flat-lined – A business with stagnant sales growth.

Gang Bang – Working as a team, in close quarters, rather than tackling needs individually.

Get Popped – To receive formal discipline.

Golden Boy/Golden Girl – One who has seemingly been anointed for greater things by the company. (Generally perceived to have been given this position without merit.)

Hammered – To receive discipline or criticism. (Ex: “He got hammered by the boss.”)

Lay Across The Desk – To receive particularly harsh punishment from a manager, business owner or corporate supervisor.

LIFER – Someone who does not possess the skill level required to perform at a higher level. Literally: Lazy Incompetent Fool Expecting Retirement.

Lost Soul – An employee with no ambition or sense of purpose; one without any self-discipline.

Jamming – Working hard; working at a brisk pace which will achieve desired results.

Mr. Manager – One who takes his title too seriously; one who tries to make himself important above others.

Must Be Done 100% - An admonition that the job be completed to specification with no short cuts; an implied warning against half-measures.

Nail/Nailed – To hit the bullseye; to achieve a goal with expert skill.

Night Crew – Employees who work during the third-shift operation of a store.

Old School – A style of operation no longer in favor. (Often presumed to be inherently superior to modern methods.)

On The Horn – Communicating by telephone.

One Speed – A worker who always moves at the same pace, regardless of store conditions.

Overtime Hound – One who constantly manages to punch out late, thus gaining extra work time; one who always volunteers for extra hours.

Pitch – To throw something away.

Points To Ponder – Ideas offered to spur creative thinking.

Power Of The Pencil – Using the schedule to reward or punish an employee.

Queen Bee – A female manager who is self-absorbed and pompous.

Ram Jam – Fit all of a particular item on the shelf, even if extra measures are required.

Re-model – Freshening the look of an existing store.

Ring Register – To perform the duties of a cashier.

Rocker – A quick employee; one who works at a brisk pace wherever they may be scheduled in the store.

Rug Cutter – An overly large safety knife used to open cases of stock.

Shadow – To follow someone closely, for purposes of observation.

Shipped Out – Transferred to another store.

Sing For Your Supper – To plead for mercy following a major error or mistake.

Skate – To leave quickly at the end of a work shift, implying little concern for completing duties.

Slapped Down – Denied or refused.

Slug – A slow worker; one who lacks motivation.

Step Up To The Plate – To accept greater responsibilities; to meet challenges directly.

Store Cop – A security agent; a plainclothes detective employed by the company.

Target On Their Back – Someone who has attracted disciplinary attention from store management; one who seems likely to be demoted or fired.

Throwing Cannonballs – Ordering wildly, without discipline, which creates unnecessary backstock on items. (Also: implementing policies without careful consideration.)

Trashed – Ruined.

True Believer – One who accepts company doctrine without dissent; one who avoids conflict at all costs; one who rarely accepts new ideas.

U-Boat – A mobile stock carrier; used to move cases of stock around the store.

Valued Customer – A term used at the beginning of almost every company notice; a genuine expression of appreciation for those who patronize a store.

Volunteer – One who quickly accepts new challenges, projects and ideas.

Wanderer – An employee who seems to always be out of their department without cause.

Wood Flat – A pallet, used to ship cases of stock conveniently.

Yo-Yo Ordering – The result of an inexperienced person handling ordering duties; ordering too little, then ordering too much.

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