Author Archives: Masked Retail

Reflecting on my Experience as an Online Publisher

This website has gone through a lot of changes since September. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share my work on a blog since I feel that I best express myself through writing. However, I had never created a website before, so I had to learn quickly. It has taken me a lot of research to figure out everything from changing fonts to using plugins, but I am finally satisfied with what I have.

Masked Retail has been my way of sharing my personal experiences working in a retail environment during the time of Covid-19. Since I started working in retail 2 ½ years ago, I noticed that I would leave every shift with a new story to tell. Through blogging, I have been able to unload some of my frustrations by sharing stories that combine the difficult parts of retail and the pandemic. There is a lot of misinformation that is spread by people who don’t believe in the pandemic or think that wearing a mask represents relinquishing freedom. Masked Retail is my way of countering that illogical narrative by supporting scientific evidence with real experiences in the hopes that people become more conscientious about the way they behave during this time.

Initially, I used this website to rant about how inconsiderate some customers are. After a few weeks, I started to recognize that my peers would be reading my posts and wanted to ensure that the content I provided would be useful to them. I started adding posts that offered advice, such as my post, “When Should I Shop?- Covid Holiday Edition” to help my readers stay safe (Masked Retail, 2020). Other than my peers, my imagined audience comes from a younger demographic looking to learn more about consumerism during the pandemic. Using Google Analytics, I came to the conclusion that the members of my audience are young (under 30 for the most part), which supports the idea that my audience is made up of people who may be experiencing similar things in their work environments. Through Google Analytics, I learned that while there are a lot of bots out there (I assume that I don’t have legitimate readers in China), there are people outside of this class who have viewed my work, including some legitimate viewers from the USA. I’ve learned that most of my audience comes to my page between 10am and 4pm between Tuesday and Friday, which gave me the idea of posting primarily during those days and times. I have also learned that linking back to my other posts when blogging keeps people on my site for longer, as they are inclined to click a link and see where it takes them.

In terms of editorial, I address my audience by being clear about the purposes of this site and by considering their thoughts and feelings when writing my posts. I am constantly aware of the fact that people will view this site, so I ensure that I make things as easy as possible for them. For example, I write all my posts in Microsoft Word so that I can spell-check my work prior to posting. The design of my site is centred around usability. To make my site easy for everybody to use, I use a grid layout for my posts, which includes a picture and an excerpt of the post. As the article “Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System?” points out, grid layouts are great for creating a clean, visually appealing page (Tadlock, 2020). I wanted something that was simple but structured, so this was a good choice for me. The menu and my posts are easy to access, and I have created ways for the audience to interact with me and the site. For instance, I have a contact page, I allow comments on posts, and I use a plugin to allow users to share my posts on social media. By doing so, I encourage my audience to get involved with Masked Retail. As described in the article, “Why We Need Social Paper”, a good public will create space for discourse that can continue even as the audience changes (Glass, 2015). Hopefully, I will have time to keep blogging even when the semester ends, and in doing so I will encourage new types of discourse with my ever-evolving audience. Overall, my content addresses the audience by answering questions that I would ask someone in my position.

I feel like the value Masked Retail provides is insight. Not many people get the opportunity to share their work experiences with the internet, and I am glad that I get to show what working in retail is like from all angles. I try to make relatable content and empathize with how people may be reacting to what is happening in the world. There are things included in my blog that I would never have thought about before I started working in retail. For example, I used to be shy and would never ask for or accept help from a retail employee. Looking back, I know that I had nothing to be afraid of, and I am more conscientious now with how I approach and treat retail workers when I am the customer. I hope that this blog does a similar thing for my readers by providing industry knowledge and tips for success during the time of Covid-19.

So far, I have not received any comments on my posts, so I cannot say that comments have really influenced me. Based on the article, “The Psychology of Online Comments”, I think that if I were to receive hate via an anonymous comment, I wouldn’t be too hurt (Konnikova, 2013) and I would simply delete the comment. Even if an anonymous comment were positive, I doubt I would be very affected because the sentiment of the comment seems less real without a name or face attached to it. Comments that are attached to a name would have a bigger impact on me, whether that be good or bad.

Prior to this class, I had a very outdated perception of what publication was. All that I really considered was book publication and notable companies. I never would have imagined that I could run my own publication from my computer! Now, I see that there are so many ways to be a publisher, and that there is no correct way that it must be done. Though the semester is ending soon, I am optimistic that I will continue to blog. This pandemic and my job are not going away anytime soon, so I am sure that I will have plenty of material to draw upon. Years from now, I would love to be able to look back at my posts and remember who I was and what I experienced in 2020. Ultimately, my hope is that even once the topic of Covid-19 is no longer relevant, I will be able to use the knowledge and skills learned in this course to establish some other online presence.


Masked Glass, E. (2015, December 11). Why We Need Social Paper. CUNY Academic Commons. Retrieved from

Konnikova, M. (2013, October 23). The Psychology of Online Comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Masked Retail. (2020, November 10). When Should I Shop? – Covid Holiday Edition [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Tadlock, J. (2020, April 27). Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System? WordPress Tavern. Retrieved from

(Featured Image by Pepe Reyes on Unsplash)

Online Shaming, Cancel Culture, and Community Guidelines

This week’s lecture and assigned readings were particularly interesting to me because even though I have yet to witness the harm that online comments can have on my site, I have seen it happen to more people than I can count. While we may not know the people who use online comments to shame us, I imagine that the understanding that they are real people is quite disheartening to the person being shamed. Maria Konnikova’s article “The Psychology of Online Comments” highlights how we are unlikely to have our opinion changed by an anonymous comment. That makes plenty of sense to me- why would I listen to someone who is afraid to show themselves? But if they are not anonymous? If you can gain information about their life, their job, their family? It quickly becomes apparent that this person is so confident that they are right that they show themselves while in an argument against you. That must be one of the worst feelings in the world.

When watching Jon Ronson’s TED Talk, “When Online Shaming Spirals Out of Control”, I was instantly reminded of how “cancel culture” is currently used in society. Upon discussion with my classmates, what became clear is that some people can be “cancelled” and have their life ruined, while other can be “cancelled” for similar reasons and continue with their lives without consequences. The middle-class women mentioned in Ronson’s speech were destroyed by the online scrutiny they received. But people in positions of privilege, white men in particular, can go about their days as if nothing happened. The example of Chris Pratt that my peer discussed was a perfect example of this. In the future, I plan to be more critical in analyzing the way cancel culture presents itself to different types of people, and I hope you do too!

I think it is important to remember that we all make mistakes, and that by nature of the internet, more of these mistakes get displayed publicly. I think that by cancelling people for little mistakes, we are responsible for criminalizing mistakes that could be undone with a little help. Obviously, there are some people that should stay away when they are cancelled. Like, we don’t need to hear any sympathy pleas from Harvey Weinstein. I’m talking about the people who are open to self-reflection and respond to feedback from others. If you can own up to your mistakes and make amends to the people you harmed, shouldn’t you be forgiven? Growth comes from learning from mistakes, and if we don’t let people come back from mistakes, how many “good” people will remain? We need allies in the fight against the patriarchy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, etc., and the way to obtain these allies is through teaching, not shaming.

In saying all of this, it’s inevitable that I recognize the benefit of having Community Guidelines on my site. That being said, I have yet to receive a comment or email on Masked Retail. My thought is that if I find that I can continue posting here during the next semester, even though I won’t be in a Publishing class (☹), I will implement these guidelines. Given where I’m currently at, though, it does not seem necessary to do this right away.

(Featured Image by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash)

Working on Black Friday… Was Surprisingly Okay?

Last week, I posted a gif on this site that summarized how terrible I expected Black Friday to be as a retail worker. This was my third Black Friday working at my retail store, and in previous years it was SO BUSY. I would come home after those shifts and sleep for 12 hours just to let my body recover from the insanity.

Even with the Covid-19 pandemic this year, I still expected Black Friday to be busy. This past summer, we would have long lineups of people waiting to get into our store, so I expected that Black Friday would be even worse. Despite the rising Covid cases in BC, my faith that people would stay home this year was pretty low.

Well, I guess I was wrong! My store did not have people lining up to come inside. It was maybe a little bit busier than the average weekend, but not by a lot. At first, I wondered if only my store had been affected by this, but when looking at other stores in the mall, it seems like we were all in the same situation.

I would love to think that this is all related to people finally realizing that they should stay home when possible, but I feel like there is another factor at play. Black Friday is not so much a day as it is a week. Most stores, mine included, have Black Friday deals going for several days, and don’t necessarily provide an additional discount on the Friday as opposed to Saturday or Sunday. If consumers have begun to realize this, it could be another reason why it wasn’t so busy on Friday- perhaps people are spreading out and shopping on different days. Whatever the case, I am glad that we were able to provide a safe shopping experience and that I only needed to sleep for 10 hours to recover from this year’s Black Friday😉

(Featured Image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

How Clean are the Products in Retail Stores?

Yesterday, I was asked a question by a customer that prompted this post. The customer showed me a product from the sales floor and asked if I could bring her the same item but from the back room. I told her that unfortunately this was the very last one of these items that we have. Her complaint was that since it was on the sales floor, she figured that many people would have touched it already. This was really funny to me, considering she had been touching all sorts of products and was planning on purchasing several other items. At this point, I had to bite my tongue and just apologize for the inconvenience.

What I really wanted to say was that customers touch everything. I can almost guarantee that all the items on the sales floor have been recently touched by a customer. Sure, we don’t have our fitting rooms open, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t still feel the material of a shirt or hold up a pair of pants against their body. Hopefully, these people are following protocols and keep their hands clean, but that is impossible for us as a company to guarantee.

If you go into a store and find yourself touching products that you don’t end up buying, you should assume that others have done the same.

It’s just so ironic to me that the people who complain about this are also contributing to the problem. If you are worried about other people touching your products, why on earth would you go to a mall? Online shopping exists- try utilizing it. Finally, if you are buying something from a store, you should absolutely assume that someone else has touched it and you should wash it when you get home and/or quarantine it for a bit.

(Featured Image by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash)

Behind the Scenes with Google Analytics

Given that this site is still new, I came into this guessing that there wouldn’t be that many people reading by blog, and that most of the views would be from people in my class. So, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found with Google Analytics.

In the last week, I have had 6 users visit my blog over 9 sessions, which is less than previous weeks. While at first that looks discouraging, I am also keeping in mind that there was no peer review in the last week, so my numbers would have gone down from the week when more people would have had to visit my site. In addition, I assume that fewer of my classmates have time to browse sites as the semester gets really busy. However, I am super happy with my bounce rate! When I checked this last week, my bounce rate was 52.7% and I wanted to lower that. I can’t believe that my bounce rate went down to 11.11%! This shows that the people who are seeing my site are viewing many parts of it, so I will call this a definite win!

I am not surprised by the ages of the people visiting; I expected most of my audience to be young (especially since may are my classmates), though I am happy to see that I’ve managed to attract people from all age categories!

I was surprised to see that I’ve had viewers from outside Canada. I’m guessing that it is mostly bots (it seems unrealistic that 9 people in China care about my blog), but I am hopeful that some of the viewers from the United States are legitimate people!

Finally, I am happy to see that I am attracting more new visitors while also having some people who keep coming back for more!

There is so much more that I could get into, but those are some of the important things that I noticed!

(Featured Image by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash)

GIF Assignment

I initially had no idea how to make a gif, but made it fairly simple. I wanted to create something that represented how I am feeling given that Black Friday is in 3 DAYS and will likely be an absolute nightmare for me as a retail worker.

I wanted to make something that looked sort of ominous while still being funny, which is why I used a sort of blurred filter and static sort of effect on the words. The original clip is from Glee, and I accessed the clip from here.

(Featured Image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

Let’s Do The BC Mask Mandate Right

Just yesterday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new regulations to slow the spread of Covid-19, one regulation being that masks must be worn in indoor public spaces and retail stores. You can read more about the new regulations here.


I feel like this is long overdue, so I am so relieved that this mandate is finally being implemented. While my store already had a mandatory mask policy, these government regulations will help us by showing that we were in the right all along. Some customers would complain that we didn’t need a mask mandate in our store if the government hadn’t deemed it necessary. Hopefully, those people will shut up now!

Now, if only people would learn how to wear a mask properly

At my store, I’ve seen all the incorrect ways to wear a mask: not covering the nose, not covering the mouth, hanging off the ear, sitting only on the chin, etc. It’s really not that hard to wear a mask correctly. If your mask keeps slipping off your nose, buy a new one; seeing as we are over 8 months into the pandemic, you’ve had plenty of time to get a mask that fits. Also, you don’t need to take off your mask to take a phone call. You’re still in a store with other people, so be respectful and always keep your mask on.

One other note that I’ll make is that mask use, while being very important, is not 100% effective. Please continue to physically distance from others. I’ve noticed that more and more customers come way too close to me, almost as if they think that wearing a mask allows them to disregard the 2-metre distance between us. PLEASE keep your distance even when you wear a mask- combining these two methods is essential to keeping you and others safe.

(Featured Image by Cory Checketts on Unsplash)

Peer Review #3 Reflection & Updates

Today, I’ll be making some changes to my site based on the most recent peer review conducted for this site, which can be found here. I’m really pleased that my peer liked the look of my homepage, especially because that’s where I have put in a lot of work over the last few weeks. It also made me happy that my peer commented on the user-friendly features of my site and the good quality of my writing.

I appreciate that my peer brought up the idea of affiliate ads- that’s an area of monetization that I could see myself working with if I do ever decide to monetize this site. I also liked the idea of creating social media handles for Masked Retail so that my audience can grow without me compromising my personal privacy. I am currently drowning in schoolwork, however, so this may be a change that I implement once this semester is over.

Next, my peer suggested that I install a plugin that allows for my posts to be shared with a user’s social network. This hadn’t occurred to me, so I installed the Social Snap plugin after reading through this article that my peer had linked with suggestions for plugins. I am happy with this plugin: It was simple to use, and I didn’t need to upgrade the plugin to accomplish my goal of allowing people to share my posts. Below is an example of what you’ll see at the bottom of each of my blog posts:

Another suggestion that my peer offered was that I write a message to go with my contact form to give suggestions as to why they may want to contact me. I really liked the idea of personalizing this section of my site, so I added a brief message above the contact form.

Finally, my peer noticed that my grid layout did not transfer well on a mobile device. I hadn’t realized this. I did several hours of research to try to find something that would fix this, but so far, I haven’t had any luck. I think that the only solution available to me right now may be to change my theme. However, that is something I really don’t want to do. I have gotten used to this theme and have customized it so much with the use of plugins. I do want to fix this problem though, so I am open to suggestions from anyone reading!

Special thanks to my peer for an awesome review! I am happy with what I got out of it and hope you like the changes to my site.

(Featured Image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

Peer Review #3 – Great White Sport

This week’s peer review is for Great White Sport, a sports blog focused on events and athletes specifically in Canada.

There are a lot of great things about this site that I noticed right away. Specifically, the homepage (which is the featured image for this post) is great because it combines an overview of what the site is about while also including a “Recent Posts” section. I am also a fan of the header and the carousal of images.

Now, I will get into the topic of monetization. In your Process Post #10, you mentioned that you were content with not monetizing your site right now, which I can definitely relate to. However, your site does have potential to monetize, so I will discuss ways you could do that. You mentioned that you do not want so many ads that your content would be covered, and I have to agree- if I was a user, I would probably leave an ad-cluttered site pretty quickly. I think that you could still make a decent amount of money if you filter advertisement to be related to your content. There are plenty of sports-oriented companies that I am sure would love to be featured on your site one day!

Another idea that may work in your favour is crowdfunding/sponsorship from institutions. According to Vauhini Vara’s 2015 article “Survival Strategies for Local Journalism”, advertising alone may not be enough if you want a steady stream of revenue from your site. If you were to ask your readers for a donation to keep your site going, I bet many of them would do it. It is like what guest lecturer Trevor Battye said- people want to help you! The more personal you get in asking, the more likely your readers will contribute to the site.

Next, I have a couple of suggestions that could help your site, regardless of whether you monetize it or not. First, I think you should rearrange your menu order.

All the right elements are there, only “Contact” should be moved to the last position, right after “Pub 101 Coursework”. This seems to be an unspoken rule of the way a menu should be set up, according to our T.A., because normally someone would go to contact you after reading through the written work.

Another suggestion I have is that you install a contact form. You currently have your university email on display, which may attract spam by being so openly available on your site (I won’t include a picture here so that you can keep that information private). Installing a contact form will add an extra level of professionalism to your site (very important if you ever want to monetize); it should be painless if you follow the steps here.

Finally, I noticed that your site is currently unsecure.

I used the Really Simple SSL plugin to solve fix this problem, and it only took a few minutes to do! SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it shows that a site is secure and that the link between the server and the client is encrypted. This is another important step to take to protect the privacy of you and your readers, especially if you do decide to monetize your site.

Overall, I really enjoyed this site. The quality of your work is excellent, and I can tell that you are passionate about sports and running this blog. If you ever change your mind about monetization, I am sure that you can do it in a way that does not interfere with your content.


When I saw that I had to make an infographic, I freaked out a little bit. Design is not my strong suit, and I had never done this sort of thing before. Luckily, I had heard multiple recommendations to use Canva to create this infographic. I found that it was pretty easy to customize the themes they provided and I am proud of what I created.

I tried to create an infographic that sums up the online presence of Masked Retail. I included a brief description of what the blog is for and who I am, and then guessed on some percentages that I could include to divide up the type of content/messages I provide. I also used a colour scheme that fits with the rest of my site.

Without further ado…


(Featured Image by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash)