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My Unintentional Career in Retail

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


One woman's midcareer misadventures in the absurd world of American retail.

After losing her job as a journalist and the security of a good salary, Caitlin Kelly was hard up for cash. When she saw that The North Face-an upscale outdoor clothing company-was hiring at her local mall, she went for an interview almost on a whim.

Suddenly she found herself, middle-aged and mid-career, thrown headfirst into the bizarre alternate reality of the American mall: a world of low-wage workers selling overpriced goods to well-to-do customers. At first, Kelly found her part-time job fun and reaffirming, a way to maintain her sanity and sense of self-worth. But she describes how the unexpected physical pressures, the unreasonable dictates of a remote corporate bureaucracy, and the dead-end career path eventually took their toll. As she struggled through more than two years at the mall, despite surgeries, customer abuse, and corporate inanity, Kelly gained a deeper understanding of the plight of the retail worker.

In the tradition of Nickel and Dimed, Malled challenges our assumptions about the world of retail, documenting one woman's struggle to find meaningful work in a broken system.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 31, 2011 – Kelly's debut book reveals the thankless job of a tireless retailer in a very personal way, after becoming one of the legions of low-wage workers persuading customers to buy marked-up goods. She worked for two years and three months as a retail sales associate for North Face, an upscale outdoor wear maker, after leaving her chaotic journalist career when "unwanted drama" as a reporter at the Daily News convinced her to seek solace in a mindless retail job. At age 50 and adrift careerwise, Kelly thought the retail position would be a cinch, until it became a punishing tangle of long hours, erratic shifts, rude customers, excessive workloads, and insensitive bosses. It's a stretch when she compares the horrible plight of Chinese and Asian workers to herself and her crew; their overworked, underpaid American counterparts definitely fare better. Burned out, bored, and physically deteriorating, Kelly quit the store before she reached the boiling point. While Kelly's tone is slightly whiney, she does offer an intriguing look into the retail business.

Customer Reviews

Vain much?

I was interested to learn about the retail industry from the retail workers point of view. While the author does an adequate job at showing us life on the other side of the cash wrap, there are far too many pages dedicated to the numerous accomplishments of the author. I lost track of how many times she mentioned traveling to over 30 countries, and how she spoke fluent Spanish and French. I quickly became bored reading about how amazing she considers herself. Thoroughly disappointed with this book.


I've been in retail my entire adult life. I've worked as a salesperson, cashier, buyer, to now owning a very successful business for the last 20+ years. I've seen women like the author before. They pander to us in the interview and know everything by the first week. Why? Because they are smarter, more educated, more worldly and are just "slumming" because they need some extra cash. The author is clueless. She thinks she is qualified to comment on the rough life of retail after working one shift a week. Really?

Do we really need to hear her constant reminders of who she is, a professional journalist? For someone with her credentials, the book is quite a disappointment. It's trite, boring and whiney. She mentions just how much she hates snobs, but doesn't realize she is one herself. Don't bother reading this unless you'd like to witness someone desperately trying to let you know she is somebody, not a mere salesclerk.

View in iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: Apr 14, 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings