Characters / Retail

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     Grumbel's Employees 

Marla Garrison (nee Masters)

Marla is manager of the Grumbel's store, and has apparently worked in retail for most of her adult life. She's currently married to Scott, and gave birth to their daughter Fiona in April 2012.

  • Alliterative Name: Marla Masters, until she takes Scott's last name.
  • Bad Liar: Marla's very honest, and the rare times she does lie, it's transparently obvious.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Poor Marla has to work under Stuart, and ends up doing most of his work for him.
  • Benevolent Boss: Marla's a fair, hardworking and competent boss, and is well liked in the store.
  • Bi the Way: In the January 14, 2006 strip, she was more than intrigued by the woman on the Grumble's credit card advertisement.
  • Cool Big Sis: An honorary one to Cooper, so much so that Cooper, who hates dealing with customers, will run register so a sick Marla doesn't have to. Cooper also once dealt with a customer with horrible body odor since Marla was pregnant at the time, and super-sensitive to smells. He actually outright states that he considers her his big sister in one conversation with Scott.
  • The Cynic: Has shades of this, but Marla is well aware of it, and tries to be more positive.
  • Deadpan Snarker: To just about everyone, but she saves the worst of it for people who demand things of her.
  • Disappeared Dad: While an earlier strip shows Marla's mother about to go to the movies with Marla's father, a strip set just before her wedding implies that he's died in the past five years. If so, it was never mentioned or even implied in the strips.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Marla never gets thanked for doing Stuart's work; he just tends to pile more on her.
  • Goal in Life: Marla eventually wants to open her own store.
  • Happily Married: To Scott.
  • Headdesk: Marla's response to some of Stuart's more inane demands.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Marla's prone to these when confronted by extremely stupid customers.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Marla claims that retail has made her jaded over the years.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Averted. Marla's pregnancy went at a realistic pace, lasting about nine months both in-universe and real life.
  • Married to the Job: Marla worried about being like this before she met Scott.
  • Morning Sickness: Poor Marla suffers from this at the start of her pregnancy, to the point of actually taking time off work.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Marla makes a point of being kind to other retail workers; she knows exactly what it's like.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The rare times Marla dresses up, she looks gorgeous.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Marla looks an awful lot like her mother, and as Fiona grows older in the strip, she looks a great deal like Marla.
  • Survival Mantra: Marla often repeats 'it isn't worth the (jail) time' when it comes to dealing with Stuart at his worst.
  • True Blue Femininity: Marla always wears a blue top to work, though she isn't overly feminine.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Val.

Val Williams

Val is a department supervisor at Grumbel's, despite wanting to write for a living. She is currently going out with Cooper; as of 2014, they are living together.

  • Black Best Friend: To Marla; Val is shown to have a decent social life outside of work.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Averted, Val's sometimes shown to go without her glasses when she goes out after work, though it's possible she wears contacts.
  • Brutal Honesty: Val's blunt to a point, and won't lie to save someone's feelings.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's almost a requirement to work at Grumbel's and stay sane.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Val's seen wearing purple more often than not.
  • Hair Decorations: Val's always seen wearing a hairband during work hours; often she's shown with her hair down in strips taking place outside the store. Averted in that now she wears her hair down all the time.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Parodied; for Christmas one year Val receives a headband that 'will automatically change colour to match whatever top she is wearing'.
  • Meganekko: Though Val's far from the shy version of this trope, and she's shown to be attractive in universe with her glasses and without.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Val wants to write for a living, and eventually does get hired as a gardening blogger.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Val's the only character we ever see in short, tight dresses and outfits.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Val's family are extremely well off, and pay for the nice apartment she lives in. Val still works despite that, even if she's told her parents that the money she earns from Grumbel's is actually from writing. She has since told her father, who promptly told her to start paying her own way. She now lives in a smaller, but still fashionable, studio apartment.
  • Office Romance: With Cooper.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Val's a more subdued version of this trope.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Val is absolutely smoking when she gets ready to go out after work.
  • Uptown Girl: For Cooper; her dad paid many of her expenses for a long time, and she's far more educated than him.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Marla.

Cooper Costello

Cooper is a stockroom worker (now supervisor) at Grumbel's, and is notorious for slacking off yet still managing to get his work done. As noted above, he's currently dating Val and moved in with her.

  • Alliterative Name: Cooper Costello. This seems to be a trend for the main characters.
  • Bad Dreams: Played for laughs, Cooper usually ends dreaming about work or Stuart that ends up with him sitting bolt upright in bed.
  • Big Brother Instinct: As noted above, he regards Marla as his honorary Cool Big Sis, and will go to great lengths to protect her job - even once resorting to outright blackmailing Stuart.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Cooper's actually fairly intelligent, and is clearly creative enough to make elaborate sculptures out of cardboard boxes. Yet he does nothing with it.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer / Ultimate Job Security: For all his laziness, Cooper knows the stockroom inside and out, frequently being more accurate about what's in stock than the official logs, and can put together planograms like nobody's business. He just slacks off because he isn't paid enough to care.
  • Butt Monkey: If anything bad happens to a character, it's usually Cooper.
  • Competition Freak: Played for laughs when it comes to trying to win the Halloween Costume Contest.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Cooper certainly has an active imagination.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Poor Cooper actually has quite a sad past; he mentions to Lunker that his father deserted his family when he was young, and that he had to work to support his mother when she became ill, meaning he didn't get to go to college.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cooper definitely has his moments.
  • Disappeared Dad: Cooper's dad deserted him and his mother when he was little.
  • Greed: Since Cooper always wanted to be wealthy when he 'grew up', now and then he comes up with various 'get rich' schemes. One of the more memorable involved buying up a popular children's toy only to sell it on eBay at over twice the price. He didn't at the last minute.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Lunker.
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: Cooper's idea to start a successful band is shot down by Lunker of all people, when he asks if Cooper can even sing or play an instrument.
  • Nice to the Waiter: How Cooper relates to other people stems from how they treat him. He shows little respect to Stuart, Josh or the customers but respects people like Marla or his gas station boss.
  • Office Romance: With Val.
  • Playing Sick: Was accused of this by Stuart in one story arc... right up until he collapsed and an ambulance had to be called. Turned out to be his appendix.
  • The Prankster: His pranks range from harmless ones, which are usually very funny, to the rarer, more selfish ones that backfire on him.
  • Poisonous Friend: As noted on the main page, he fills this role to Marla, keeping his ears to the ground for any developments which may jeopardize her position.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Cooper takes this to the extreme; he'll even walk around with an empty cardboard box to avoid work.
  • The Slacker: Cooper works harder on slacking off than he does actually working. Explained in-universe as him being a sort of Bunny-Ears Lawyer - he's so good at his job that he has plenty of time left over for goofing off.

Stuart Suchet

Stuart is the district manager of Grumbel's, having been promoted in 2012. A stickler for the rules, no matter how inane, Stuart left Marla to do most of his work when he was the store manager.

  • Alliterative Name: Stuart Suchet.
  • Bad Boss: Stuart is a complete suck up to those above him, and usually has little to no respect for those below him.
  • Bald of Evil: While he's not strictly evil, Stuart is bald.
  • Conservation of Competence: Stuart is incompetent, while Marla and the others tend to be very good at their jobs.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Stuart has this, believe it or not, as seen when Marla visited the mall with her new baby.
  • Demoted to Extra: Stuart still appears, but since being promoted to District Manager he doesn't show up as much. Justified, since now he has to travel to multiple stores.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Stuart's surname is pronounced 'Soo-shay'. (For British readers, it's pronounced like the name of the newsreader, John Suchet. North American readers can think of the actor, David Suchet.)
  • Jerkass: Stuart has moments where he crosses into this, including when he attempted to fire Cooper gleefully, and when he constantly takes credit for Marla's hard work.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stuart does have a very rare softer side; he seems genuinely happy for Marla when she gets married, and even gives her $100 in Grumbel's credit as a gift.
  • Lack of Empathy: Stuart seems genuinely confused about the fact that his workers have feelings.
  • Morality Pet: His sister, Diane. She's not been in the strips yet, but it's implied Stuart looks out for her, and that they care a great deal for one another. For Marla and the others, it's proof that Stuart can not only love, but can be loved by another human being.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: He's not wholly incompetent, but darn close. He only got promoted to store manager because the previous manager died, and he only got promoted to district manager because Jerry decided to retire. Marla handles the transition to manager very well because she's been doing most of his work all along anyway.
  • Straw Misogynist: Stuart has shades of this, but he's nowhere near as bad as Jerry.
  • Yes-Man: Was this to Jerry when he was the district manager.
    • He's this to anyone above him. After he found out that the regional manager (the only position above the district manager) disliked Jerry, Stuart threw him under the bus in a desperate attempt to make himself look good.


Lunker works in the stockroom with Cooper, and is a gentle giant who might be simple, but has hidden depths.

  • Adorkable: Lunker is downright adorable; his repertoire of cuteness includes singing in the stockroom, noting that his 'ultimate dream pet' is a kitty, and wearing a bow tie simply because "Lunker feeling fancy today."
  • Badass: When a robber with a knife tries his luck at the gas station while Lunker's working, he ends up in hospital with broken ribs.
    • When Stuart tries to fire Cooper, Lunker grabs him and demands that he and Cooper can share hours instead.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Lunker's first appearance implies that he's a brute, but we quickly see that he's a nice guy.
  • Face of a Thug: Poor Lunker has this, even though he's a sweetheart.
  • Gentle Giant: Despite his size, Lunker is a sweetheart... until you threaten Cooper or pull a knife on him, that is.
  • Hidden Depths: Lunker might seem simple, but he's come out with some pretty deep thoughts now and again.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: All Lunker wants is a cat of his own.
  • Manly Tears: Lunker tears up on hearing about Cooper's past.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lunker's real name, Mel, is only ever mentioned once. Everyone calls him Lunker.
  • Third-Person Person: Lunker always refers to himself as Lunker.
  • Undying Loyalty: Seems to have this for Cooper.


Courtney used to work at Grumbel's, and seemed to hate every minute of it. Lazy, work shy and rude to customers, Courtney represents every bad retail worker out there. She was fired in 2013 and, when last seen, was working as a barista in the same coffee shop as Zoe.

  • Alpha Bitch: Courtney's rude to almost everyone, and instantly takes a dislike to Amber just because she's pretty.
  • Brainless Beauty: Courtney was only hired for her looks, by the manager before Stuart. She's only kept on the staff because since she's such a bad worker, she earns less per hour.
  • The Ditz: Courtney wasn't exactly hired for her mind.
  • Dumb Blonde: It's debatable; Courtney seems clueless most of the time, but she's a little sharper when it comes to blackmailing Marla.
    • Then again, she also thinks that 500 yen is the same as 500 dollars.
  • Flat "What.": Courtney's reaction when Marla finally fires her
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Dislikes Amber just because she's attractive, kind, and smart.
  • Gold Digger: And she's very open about it:
    "I hate this place. I'm just here until I find a rich guy to marry."
  • The Load: Courtney has never done anything remotely useful.
  • Put on a Bus: After Marla took over as the store manager, she fired Courtney. She made one more appearance, where she's seen working as a barista. Otherwise she hasn't appeared since 2013.

Josh Tobin

Initially a Christmas employee, Josh became a permanent member of the staff on account of Stuart's liking of his hard-nosed, corporate-is-always-right mentality. When Stuart was promoted to district manager and Marla became the store manager, Josh was promoted to being her assistant after Val declined the position.

Josh lasted as Marla's assistant for about a year until he was caught lying about a job offer from a competing store in order to secure a raise. No longer having Stuart's protection, he got a new job before they could fire him. Despite turning in a two week's notice, Marla fired him anyway after he started bragging about how he got away with lying to her face. He hasn't appeared since January 2014.

  • 0% Approval Rating: Oh very much. Cooper even says so as much.
    Cooper: "I'm telling you, Josh. I'm gonna have your job by this time next year."
    Josh: "Impossible! You don't have the experience, skill or demeanor to be the assistant manager."
    Cooper: "Sure, but you're forgetting what really matters around here."
    Josh: "What's that?"
  • Butt Monkey: In fairness, he deserves it most of the time.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A retail worker who looks and acts like Josh appeared in one 2006 strip, a year before he became a regular character.
  • Insufferable Genius: Josh is very intelligent, but he's insufferable with it.
  • Jerk Ass: Very much so, In some ways even more than Stuart.
  • Liar Revealed: Josh fabricated the story that the competing store offered him a job with better salary. Unfortunately for him, Marla found out.
  • Male Gaze: Played with; Josh stares intently at Marla's legs as he mentions that her skirt hem should technically be below the knee according to Grumbel's rule book.
  • The Perfectionist: Josh attempts to be perfect in every possible way he can, including following Grumbel's rules to the letter.
  • Put on a Bus: Hasn't been seen since Marla fired him in January 2014. He was only mentioned once since then, by Cooper in March 2016, when Arthur (who replaced Josh) announced that he's quitting.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Josh is one of the better dressed male Grumbel's employees.
  • Shout-Out: Of sorts: his nickname is Stuart Little.
  • Smug Snake: Falls into this when he tries to play mind games with Cooper about his promotion. All his attempts to get Cooper in trouble backfire horribly, and make Josh look bad as well.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Once it became apparent that Marla was going to fire him for lying about the Delman's job offer, he went and found another job. When he went to give her the two weeks notice, he pretty much tells her off. Of course, this pissed Marla off, and she promptly fired him on the spot, not letting him work out his notice.
  • Yes-Man: Was this to Stuart. Backfires once Marla is promoted, since she hates suckups with a passion.


Amber joined the Grumbel's staff after growing tired of working at Abersnobby and Finch. She proves it's possible to be attractive, smart and kind.

  • Colourful Theme Naming: Amber happens to have lovely reddish blond hair to match her name.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When one skeevy customer wants her phone number before proceeding to pay for his things, quick-witted Amber tells him that her name is Jenny and her number is 867-5309.
    • Another customer asks Amber where he can find Christmas lights that never burn out. Amber's response: "Narnia?"
  • Ms. Fanservice: In-universe example, Amber was made to wear tight fitting clothes at her old job in order to draw people into the store.
    • Out of universe too, Amber is drawn curvier than other females in the strip.
  • Oblivious to Love: She doesn't ever notice that Donnie has a crush on her (and in fact doesn't even know his name) until he asks her out. She declines. Later, after he develops a thing for Heather, he tells Amber it won't work out between them. Her response is understandably baffled.


A Christmas helper who was retained to continue working in the stockroom. Good pals with Cooper and Lunker.

  • Geeky Turn-On: Comes to the conclusion that he's got it bad for newbie Heather when he learns that she's into tabletop gaming, and is actually thrilled when she beats him at his favorite game.
  • Likes Older Women: Has a crush on Marla in his earlier appearances, though Cooper shoots down any ideas he might have about it going anywhere.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Has shades of this, especially when getting Lunker to tell him "the legend of Cooper's Lounge."
  • Peek-a-Bangs: He's only ever seen with one eye, with this trope presumed to be the reason.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Is occasionally subjected to a mild form of this, since he's the stockroom's resident low man on the totem pole.


Jerry is Stuart's boss, the district manager for Grumbel's. He's a Jerkass who seems to only want to make Marla's life hell.

  • Put on a Bus: Happened twice. The first time was when he got promoted to regional management in another state, only to get his old job back a year later due to his position begin eliminated. Years later, Jerry decided to quit his job for real, which led to Stuart taking over. He hasn't appeared since 2012, although Marla mentioned him in a 2016 strip.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Jerry called Marla "Darla" early in the run. After Jerry was (temporarily) promoted, the new D.M. revealed that he knew her name the whole time, but purposefully misnamed her. When Jerry returned, he started calling her by her correct name, likely because Marla knew the ruse by now.
  • Straw Misogynist: Believes Marla might be promoted to store manager simply because Grumbel's can get away with paying her less as she's a woman. Jerry also demeans Marla constantly, despite the fact she's an extremely hard worker, and it does seem to be because she's female.


Jerry's replacement for a short period of time, a kind, clever woman who only wanted to help Grumbel's in any way that she could.


Lana is an out-of-work P.R. consultant with "a knack for for putting a positive spin on things".


Like Donnie, she started out as an "elf" and was invited to remain on a more permanent basis.

  • In-Series Nickname/Insistent Terminology: Lunker insists on calling her "new girl," even after she tells him her name.
  • Meganekko
  • Proud to Be a Geek: She has no qualms about admitting her love for tabletop gaming, and happily joins in when Donnie invites her to participate in his weekly gathering.
  • Younger Than They Look: Her spectacles, turtleneck and hairstyle left many readers under the impression that she was in her thirties, until one strip revealed she's just 22.


Marla's second assistant, replacing Josh.

  • Benevolent Boss: He was much more reasonable than Josh, and was well-liked by others, despite being recommended by Stuart.
  • Put on a Bus: After two years on the strip, he accepted a job at his brother-in-law's company and left the store.

Brice Tanner

Marla's third assistant, replacing Arthur. He's much more stickler to Grumbel's rule, although it's yet to be seen if he'll be another Josh.

  • Broken Pedestal: When he first appeared, Brice idolized Stuart, considering him a wise mentor. However, over time he started losing respect for him, first by accidentally making Brice to look like a crybaby to Marla and Cooper after Stuart told Marla to take it easy on him (after Brice complained that he thinks Marla doesn't like him), then later when he was the receiving end of Stuart's idiotic management policy.

    Other Recurring Characters 

Scott Garrison

Scott is Marla's husband, who works as a bartender.

  • The Bartender: Scott works at a bar, and it's how he and Marla met.
  • Happily Married: To Marla.
  • House Husband: He agreed to cut back on his own shifts so Marla could continue working full time with a baby at home (and it was his idea).
  • Panicky Expectant Father: When Val asks how Scott is with Marla being pregnant, we cut to him cowering behind the couch as he watches a television show about birth abnormalities.


A barista who could be Marla's twin, albeit with blonde hair. Dates Cooper briefly.