In an industry that employs more than 12 percent of the American workforce and handles consumer spending worth $4.1 trillion, the retail sector provides a rich source of humor stemming from the unique interactions between employees and shoppers. Retail, the first-ever syndicated comic strip to focus solely on this sector, presents a hilarious look at the retail industry by chronicling the daily events at the fictitious Grumbel’s department store.
Created by Massachusetts retail management veteran Norm Feuti, the humor of Retail plays out through the day-to-day trials and triumphs of four main Grumbel’s department store employees and the customers they encounter.
“The concept of a retail-based strip has great mass appeal because everyone can relate to it, either as a former or current retail worker or shopper,” says Norm. “The headache of returning merchandise and the joy in finding the right item or perfect gift can make shopping both a stressful or highly enjoyable experience. The combination of unreasonable customers, over-enthusiastic bosses and frustrated employees can make for sometimes volatile, but often funny situations.”
Norm Feuti is a syndicated cartoonist, author and stay-at-home dad living in Plainville, Mass.
For more than 15 years, Norm earned a living working in retail management. He has sold everything from men’s footwear, fine jewelry, toys, arts and crafts supplies to giftware, clothing and countless other items. He has even managed his own small business specializing in hard-to-find and unique puzzles and games.
After the birth of his daughter in 2001, Norm’s wife, Jennifer, convinced him to go after his old dream of being a cartoonist. Among other ideas, Norm took to heart the old mantra “write what you know” and submitted a comic based on his experiences working in retail. It was this idea that ultimately caught the attention of King Features’ then Editor-In-Chief, Jay Kennedy. In 2005, Jay offered Norm a syndication contract, and on Jan. 1, 2006, his comic strip Retail was launched in newspapers nationwide.
Retail appears in newspapers throughout the United States and Canada and has even led to a book written by Norm and published in 2007 entitled "Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook."
The unappreciated middle manager, who has spent most of her adult working life in retail and moving from store to store, only to discover that while the store names change, the game stays the same. She remains optimistic about her chosen career even though it sometimes runs contrary to her idealistic philosophies.
Cooper is the resident clown and stock boy, who discontented with his “lackey” status, finds ways to entertain himself by speaking freely and pulling the stunts that his co-workers only fantasize about.
The well-educated (and overqualified) assistant sales associate, who manages to remain levelheaded and sane despite her sometimes challenging job.
Stuart is the Grumbel’s store manager and “corporate yes man,” who believes that what the corporate office says, goes ― no matter what.