The mid-2000s were defined by a number of clothing brands, all of which conflicted with each other.
But none had such a pervasive presence as Hot Topic, which nearly defined the "emo" movement as much as emo music itself. However, we were all collectively the worst in the mid-2000s and a lot of poor Hot Topic employees had to deal with us.
These are their stories.
Here are the tales.
The 'Twilight' ZoneGiphy
I worked at Hot Topic about 8 years ago. For the most part, the gig was the best part-time job I ever had. Great managers, great coworkers, great customers. Only 2 instances stand out in my mind.
- This was around when Twilight was big. Middle-aged women would come in and ask where the Edward/Jacob merch was and then just start fawning over them in the most uncomfortable way.
- My actual interview. It was a group interview. One of the questions was something about either a difficult customer service moment or something. This one guy (obvious HT scene type) proudly talks about the time he worked at a bookstore and sucker-punched a female customer in the face for calling his style weird/freaky/something.
I never saw that guy again so I don't think he got the job.
Improvised Problem Solving
I worked for 2 years at my local Hot Topic and the worst stories both involved the fitting room.
Our fitting room used to be a self-service room in the back of the store with a red curtain in front of it. An employee noticed 4 feet in the room and opened it to find two people having sex in it and had to clean up the remnants.
A second incident came when a smell wafted from the same room. It was later discovered that someone had actually taken a dump in the room when they went in to "try on clothes".
We ended up fitted the room with a galvanized piece of chain and a master lock to keep the curtain open. Luckily, shortly thereafter, we got a full store overhaul that put in ACTUAL fitting rooms.
It Was Creative
My current boss was a former store manager at a Hot Topic and he told me that he caught one of his employees stealing a shirt he had stuffed into a Sonic cup. From then on out everyone had to check bags AND beverages for merchandise.
You Had Ample Warning
Not a horror story but a ridiculous short one. I had a woman come in with her sleeping infant and screamed at me to turn off the music while she strolled around the store. I mean if your baby is sleeping and you want them to continue, maybe dont come to browse the store that you can hear music blasting from the other side of the mall, idk what to tell ya haha.
There Is Fanfiction!!!!
Thursday is actually my last day with Hot Topic after 4 years! In general the company is amazing to its employees and I've met some incredible people. But boy do i have stories!!
- I once found a condom on our anime section. It was open and filled with...something.
- We had a girl who I am positive had some mental issue because she would get into the fitting room and try to lure ANYONE in there to "help" her then try and seduce them. She was actually pretty but young and filled to the brim with crazy.
- Alice Cooper came into the store once. Totally unannounced and brought a teacup pig. Absolutely wonderful person. Gave our metalhead associate tickets to his show and this dude about lost it.
- Also met Machine Gun Kelly, Mayday Parade, We the Kings, and Max Green of Escape the Fate. MGK and the vocalist for WtK were *ssholes.
- We had a guy get thrown against the front gate on the morning of a Funko Pop release. In general the job has taught me some Pop collectors are grade A *ssholes.
- Had a woman ask me if she should go back to stripping after her C section, then lifted her shirt to show me the scar.
- We found out there was a group of mallrats who wrote fan fiction about the staff at our store. I never got to see any and I'm glad for that.
Former employee. I worked a whole 3 months in Summer, so all the kids were out and about. I was stocking Disney merchandise and I couldn't help but notice a kid underneath one of our clearance racks. I heard some strange noise coming from there too so I crouch under and look at the kid. He had a button, needle and all, in his mouth. I asked him where his parents were and before I knew it he swallowed the pin and ran out of the store. I couldn't leave and go search for the child so I let security know about the button kid. Never knew what happened after that. I can't seem to forget button kid though.
Peaches, Meet Your Maker
Spent almost 5 years working at one in the early 2000's. Being in the midwest, we had a ton of Juggalos but they were actually pretty nice people in general. I had a group of kids ask what I would do if they "set some clothes on fire" and flicked a lighter multiple times. We mostly got weirdos who wanted to bang in the dressing room or lifted up their shirts to ask me what gauge their nipple ring is. We had this one girl who came in weekly and I dont think she was all there. She would sit at the listening station for way too long and then leave.
One day she sat down and put the headphones on. She had a plastic bag with her filled with empty glass bottles and peaches (yes, the fruit). We noticed it was leaking onto the floor but just let her do her thing. She put the headphones back and looked at her leaking bag. She had a mildly disappointed look on her face but immediately looked at her watch and yelled "I'm going to miss my bus!". She ran out of the store and up to a trash can outside the store. She held the bag up high and yelled "PEACHES MEET YOUR FATE!!!", threw the bag in the trash, and sprinted off. That job was weird.
When Hygiene Doesn't Come To Work
I worked for Hot Topic for about 7 years. My store was apparently THE juggalo store of the district, and I think the state. Working for that company as long as I did, I was pretty used to ignoring people's crappy taste, but the juggalos were different.
This is in central Florida, so it's on average about 90 degrees most days and always humid as hell. These kids were always very overweight, wearing a massive black ICP tee, those ridiculous 30 pound black Tripp pants with huge pockets and all the hardware (chains and straps) hanging from them, and they were drenched in sweat (their hygiene was almost always AWFUL). They always seemed to show whenever a new ICP shirt or collectible would arrive, and would smell up the store and pay in wadded up, sweat soaked money. It was just all around unpleasant.
The smell would linger for a bit after they left... it was not pleasant.
Was It Worth It?
My sister worked at one for a little while. One day two grown men were fighting over a Pop (it's like a collectible figure). Like a legit fight. She said it was like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons fighting another Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. My sister called mall security and noped the hell out of their way. Neither one of them got the Pop. My sister had to put all the stuff back that they knocked over.
Who Is The Real Devil HereGiphy
I worked in a Hot Topic in a small town where it was really controversial for the store to be moving in. I worked there about 6 months after it opened and we saw a lot of older folks eyeing us and they store as they walked by. One time this high school girl was in buying a band tee and as she was checking out her grandma came in yelling something about devil worship then proceeded to fall to the floor speaking in "tongues". Security was called.
We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.