It’s been a long time coming…
So, today is the big day. Uniqlo opens its doors in Germany. And today I will give you an inside view, because for the past few weeks I have been working there part-time.
Some of you may know about the training that Uniqlo staff receive. Saying it’s hardcore is putting it lightly. I have never had training like this in my life! I have worked in a shop before and the products were pointed out to me, before I was told to sell as much as possible. Not so useful in hindsight.
So, back to the training I received: The first week was classroom-style. We took notes and had presentations for 40 hours. Even I am still unsure how we were so busy, when our job is to sell clothes, but stay with me. This is interesting stuff. The next week we learnt how to use the tills. Then we learnt how to use them faster. And better. And with a smile. And then faster still. And a better smile…
Next time you pop into a store, have a look at how perfect the clothes are. We spend hours folding clothes to make them into piles that become box-shaped. I spent 8 hours folding a row of socks last week. Faster and faster, until they looked perfect. I can’t say it was riveting, but…
Uniqlo is made up of the words Unique Clothing Warehouse. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) this is easy to remember for Germans, as the way that the word is pronounced is Uni-Klo. This basically means university toilet. Hmm. I guess that name won’t be forgotten quickly – haha.
The mix of my colleagues is very unique. Everyone is from a different country: Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan working alongside people from Nepal, the UK, Poland… and there are a few Germans too. I can’t imagine another store in Germany, where a large proportion of the staff cannot speak a word of German. I am not sure how this will go down with the general population. I guess we will have to wait and see.
On a positive side-note though, the service we provide is also very different to 99% of the places here, where you are either ignored, shoved to the side or not listened to by people in the so-called service industry. It seems bizarre that we would be taught how to be polite, but there you go. Hopefully Berlin will learn something from Uniqlo.
I have always loved Uniqlo. I have looked all over for a part-time job here that interests me and this has been the only one in the past 8 months. It’s easy to sell a product that you believe to be high in quality but also a reasonable price. Plus I used to wear it in Japan all the time as nothing else really fit.
It’s going to be a couple of crazy 12-hour working days for me. It will mean standing up all day with a big smile planted on my face. However, it feels exciting to be a part of this new project in Germany and I think it will be very successful. People here seem to dress for the season. When it’s cold there are no tiny skirts (belts?) without tights. Leggings covered in trousers with knitted socks and snow boots come out. I was surprised Uniqlo wasn’t here when the winter started last year. Now it is finally here!
I’m sure I shall update you all in due course when my legs have recovered from a crazy opening week!