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Work Life

Life Story Club Contributor

I did professional demo. They called it “brand ambassador.” That’s the word they use. You go into supermarkets, department stores and convention centers, and you do demonstrating of foods, like coffee makers, or you show a little piece of floor, they give you a piece a tile, and you wash it with a mop. You know, what you see on television, like QVC they demonstrate, you’re showing clothing or shoes. I did that. For a number years, you know, Connecticut, New Jersey, wherever they needed me. At Stop and Shop. At that time it was Waldbaum’s and Pathmarks. Or private stores – Gristede’s, King’s in New Jersey, they’re specialty supermarkets, they’re more expensive. You know, or in Greenwich, Connecticut, certain stores that aren’t here. Like Wegmans, that just opened up in Brooklyn Navy Yard, but I never worked there. I never worked in that store because it was in Pennsylvania. I don’t go that far. But many people don’t even know that. There’s a Kings on Franklin street in Garden City and there’s 42 of them all over New Jersey.

I also did merchandising, in Rite-Aids and stores where I do cosmetics, you know, put up all those little things that they use, you know, for lipstick or eyebrow pencils. I actually put it up, bring the boxes in from the company and do that.

And lately, I did mystery shopping. Say you go into a bank, and you open an account. I used to get the paperwork because at that time there were no computers. They would send me the paperwork, and I had to memorize my script. I guess it’s like being in a movie of some kind, but I didn’t have to learn that much. And you went in and opened up an account and you had to speak to the person. Were they wearing a suit, were they dressed properly, did they had their name tag on, and the third question was, “Did they make eye contact?” That was very important. And how they answered you. And I had to seem like I had a business there, that I was starting a new business and I wanted to open up a business account. And see how they reacted to me to and whatever you learn, and then give them feedback and then you gotta check for that. And I could do like three banks a day, or hotels, or getting an oil change, you know, in a jiffy, and putting down your experience. Or going to Tiffany’s and buying a diamond bracelet. Sometimes they even gave you money for the bank, you know, to put in like $1,000. At that time, it was safer to do those things, you know, nobody was going to steal anything. It was an interesting world. Most of them are scams, they’d be in the newspaper, you know, doing mystery shopping, but then you have to pay them so that’s not anything honorable. You don’t pay for that, you just get in with these companies and they call you up when they need you. But every state has it and every program has it like, BestBuy, or Bed, Bath and Beyond, restaurants McDonald’s or Burger King. They give you a stopwatch and you have to check how many seconds it took from the time you order the food until you actually get it at the window.

But that’s what I did most of those years and that’s it, you know. It was being a customer buying something, you had to go in. Like Duane Reade, they had three mystery shoppers a day and I would have three interactions. The first one was a somebody who was sitting there putting stock away. I had to ask him where the sanitary napkins were, you know, make believe I don’t know, and he had to get up and take me over there. And if he didn’t take me, it wasn’t a demerit, you know, but I would have to put down that he didn’t comply with their standards, you see. I had to wear a Navy shirt with tan pants, then I had to go to the pharmacist stand on the line. I had to tell them how many people were on the line. I was also I heard, on camera. Because I once said there was nobody, and the company called me and said you did it wrong. They said you were on camera, and there were two people in front of you. So you see how careful they were about how they did, and they watched you also, how you performed. But it was interesting, and it paid well so it was good. But I got people jobs too if they needed. You know, and I’d tell them how to rehearse that they did it before, otherwise they wouldn’t be hired. It’s easy to do that it really is. And you have to be able to act like a customer and not be nervous, otherwise they can spot you, and they’d say, oh, she’s a spy.

Like at a Pathmark, I was looking at a cantaloupe had to ask him how to choose a cantaloupe. And you did a good job and like a month later, they gave him a bonus. They said, “Somebody was in the store and you did a very good job with them.” And it was me! But he doesn’t know that. He didn’t know because nobody ever caught me. They couldn’t find out you know. Yeah. It’s nice. It was a lot of fun, it’s a fun job. Well, it’s like, I mean they have other words for it. Yeah, it’s mystery shopping.

It’s like buying a Mercedes Benz, going in and buying a Mercedes Benz, and you go to the different dealerships. I mean, I’ve had really very exclusive jobs, where you really had to dress up for every job. You know, you couldn’t just have.. although actually you could go dress down because if you have a lot of money, you know, a lot of these people, they don’t dress up, the multi-millionaires, that’d be a little weird. So you really don’t know who’s who.And they want to make a sale. So you have to learn a lot about the job. But then again, like somebody won the lottery, they have a lot of money and they wanted to buy a fancy Lamborghini, or one of those…Yeah, quite a few hundred thousand dollars…or real estate. Yeah, everybody is checking everybody today. That’s the truth. I don’t even know about this program, if they check you at all. It’s the same thing, they check, they record everything so they hear what’s going on, you see? So they know if you lie. You get nervous sometimes because you say the wrong thing and all of a sudden they’ll call you up and say, “Why’d you say that?” And then you can’t say you didn’t do it, because you were there and you did say it. It’s not that easy. They didn’t record me at supermarkets and things like that.

Stop and Shop came in about the year 2000, when they first came into the areas. And I was like in each one, it was like the Grand Opening. It was on a Friday night usually, where they had all the big people coming that owned all these companies. And they come in, and you had about 15 demonstrators in the store that night. You had to wear the uniform, you know, the tuxedo shirt, the bowtie, your little hat, the gloves. You had to change their gloves often. But it was interesting. That was my life.

And then I taught my children how to do it because they went to college and this way they could do the work or so, part time. Yeah, like, one of them was up at Albany. So she worked at JC Penney and Macy’s, you know, as a demonstrator, not as a sales girl, just as a demo, like when they had the candy like at Godiva Chocolates. You know, you go out and you get the candy, you know, little things. They’re fun though. So if anybody still wonders, they’re still doing it you know, and they pay very well now. They pay about $25 an hour.

See in Cosco, that’s a terrible place to work and I tried that. But things were slow, I went to work at Cosco. That’s a hard. Oh my god, they’re all on the floor and you had to pull that whole little unit you had. I forgot what the word for it is, you know, it’s on a roller, it’s on wheels. You wheel it out and you had to take everything from the kitchen, including the microwave or frying pan, whatever you’re using. You have to go out and they give you a place to stand and you have to work all day. And you have to raise your hand when you wanted to go to the bathroom because somebody would have to take over for you. I would never do that again. When I worked, I went in by myself, and I had a table or they’d give me a table to use. I would just bring the tablecloth things like that. And then I would buy everything. When I did ShopRight, they gave you a card credit card and it was like $100 and you could buy whatever you needed for the demo. And when you’re finished, you could take these things home, like can opener or anything that you use for the demo, but you can’t go over and get a pair of stockings and take that home, you see. That’s what some of these demonstrators do and then they get in trouble. It’s called shoplifting. That was the problem, we had some people hired that made the job bad, you know, because they did a lot of that. I mean, remember we had men in their security guides checking everybody, and at Macy’s, they give you a plastic bag to use and you had to bring that with you and you went through the employees entrance. And when you left, they could see what was in your bag. You couldn’t use your own pocket book…

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