Below is a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions I’ve received over the years. Be sure to visit Retail’s page on Wikipedia for more trivia about the strip.
Do you still work in retail?
No. I worked at various retail jobs for over 15 years, but gave up my last retail job in 2005 when I was offered a syndication contract.
Did you ever work in my store?
Are the Retail characters based on real people?
No. The main Retail characters all represent different aspects of my own personality at different stages during my retail career … except for Stuart. He’s sort of an amalgam of every bad manager I’ve encountered, but he doesn’t represent any one real person.
What Retail character do you most closely identify with?
Marla. I spent the vast majority of my retail career in management, banging my head against the wall, trying to make it work. I would always hold out a little hope that each new store I worked for would be better than the last, but they were all pretty much the same. Corporate thinking was the bane of my existence.
Where did the name Grumbel’s come from?
It’s a play on Gimbels the iconic American department store chain that survived for over 100 years before going out of business in the late 1990s.
It’s probably worth adding that I’ve never worked for Gimbels.
What state does the strip take place in?
All I’ll say is that it’s in New England.
Do the numbers in the Retail barcode mean anything?
Yes. It used to be a toll-free phone number that King Features set up when the comic launched in 2006 where readers could call and leave a retail story. Unfortunately, none of the Sunday newspapers that Retail launched in ever printed the title panel that contains the logo, so few people ever saw it during the first year. Subsequently, the phone number and the idea was abandoned.
Are there any Retail books available?
The only book currently available is “Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook.” It’s a parody self help book for retail employees. Along with 200 strips from the first year and a half of Retail, the book contains 300 pages of humorous advice, analysis, and anecdotes from my own painful retail career.
“Pretending You Care” is carried in bookstores, but you can also buy it online through Amazon, or by clicking the “store” link at the top of the page.
Are the stories in “Pretending You Care” true?
Sadly, yes. The personal anecdotes in the book are all 100% true.
What happened to Cooper’s Retail Blog?
I had to stop doing it a while back so I could devote time to some other projects. Tragically, the file I saved all the material on before taking down the old site got corrupted somehow, so the original material is lost forever.
Cooper may just start blogging again here on the new site, however, so stay tuned!