OPINION: Return to work means a return to the madness of retail

by | Mar 18, 2021 | Opinion

When the Ontario government announced the Stay-at-Home order was being lifted in Toronto and non-essentials businesses were going to be reopened on March 8, I felt happy, but bittersweet, that I was going back to work.

I haven’t been at my job at HomeSense since November.

The Etobicoke store that I work in is located in Etobicoke at The Queensway near Sherway Garden. It’s the largest HomeSense store in Canada and the U.S.

The multiple jobs that I work at HomeSense #013 include floor sales associate, working in the warehouse, working on tanks, organizing back stock and at times fill in as a cashier.

Being a sales associate involves a lot of work with displaying merchandise, unloading new products in the aisles and customer service.

You always have to be prepared for anything when it comes to working at HomeSense, as you never know when it will be regular busy or Christmas busy.

Being one of the busier retail stores, we’re constantly changing things. It’s a fast-paced environment given the amount of work that is done. The first COVID-19 related lockdown that occurred in March 2020 was tough.

I was laid off from the TJX company, the parent firm of HomeSense, Winners, and Marshall’s, and had to sign up for the government benefits to help me get by.

It wasn’t easy, but the first lockdown did not last that long, and by the end of May, I was back at work.

The second lockdown was longer but there were some “silver lining” benefits as I was in the middle of the third semester in my journalism program. I had many assignments to work on and just as many deadlines to meet during that time.

Not needing to work weekends during the lockdown was beneficial for me, allowing me to work on class assignments. It also gave me more time to do other things that I don’t often have the time to do, such as reading more and cleaning up my apartment on a regular schedule.

As the weeks went by, I started to miss seeing and being with co-workers I made friends with, but I was not missing the constant hectic work at HomeSense. I also was not missing dealing with rude, impatient customers.

Another benefit I had was the OSAP loans to help me with payments such as rent and other bills. I also didn’t have to worry about travelling on the TTC to commute to work and possibly being exposed to people who may have COVID-19.

I did get the urge to back to work during the Stay-at-Home order’s final month. When the lockdown over and HomeSense officially reopen on March 8, many of my colleagues were excited to be back working.

My first day back was not until this past weekend on March 14. Walking through those doors again for the first time since November felt new again as it has been over three months since I worked there. It was busy but not as crazy busy as the store usually is and the customers were ecstatic to back to in-person shopping.

Being one of the three gourmet associates working that day in the department, there was a lot of work that needed to be done as gourmet had the most stock of items that had to be put out on the sales floor. In gourmet, we sell coffee and tea appliances, kitchen appliances and food such as chocolate, candies and cookies.

The store was closed for three months, but I came back to when I left things off. New protocols and restrictions are in place because of COVID, but it is the same.

I enjoyed my time away from HomeSense, but it feels great to be back up and running, working again and seeing all of my co-workers that really missed so much. I even missed the hecticness that comes with it.