Marla Garrison (nee Masters)
The protagonist of the comic strip.
Marla starts out as the assistant manager of the Grumbel's store, and has worked in retail for the majority of her adult life. She finds herself doing most of the work to keep the store running, to the point where the manager, Stuart, is left floundering whenever she takes time off. Marla often struggles between doing what makes sense, and what Grumbel's wants her to do, but her amazing intuition is often overlooked because she doesn't follow the orders directly. Because of this, and the fact that Grumbel's is reluctant to promote her to manager despite the fact she's already doing the work of a manager, Marla plans to open her own boutique.
However Marla falls pregnant shortly after marrying Scott Garrison, a bartender she met while on a rare night out, and so she finds herself having to temporarily put her plans on hold. Things only become more complicated when she's finally promoted to manager, after Stuart is promoted to district manager. Currently she has no plans to leave Grumbel's until Fiona is in pre-school, though she's not entirely certain if she still wants to try and open her own store. In January 2019, Marla admitted to Val that she no longer wants to open her own store, as Marla and Scott have a mortgage and health insurance though Grumbel's, and opening her own store now appears to be too big a risk.
Marla married Scott in June 2011, and gave birth to their daughter Fiona Jane Garrison in April 2012.
In 2020, at the end of the strip, Marla left Grumbel's and was hired as an office manager at Myers-Peterson, a company that Scott's sister works at. She said to Scott and herself that the phrase "Retail isn't real work" had been said to her so many times that she felt it became true and never tried to find a job outside of Grumbel's.
- 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.
- Berserk Button: Stuart learns that he should not have dared insinuate that because Marla took her legally entitled maternity leave, she was on vacation. Marla goes completely ballistic on him for that insult.
- 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.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end of the strip. After years of putting up with retail, she gets a job as an office manager at Myers-Peterson. She tells Stuart off, flicks her name tag at him, and walks out the door.
- Goal in Life: Marla eventually wants to open her own store. She never gets the chance, as Grumbel's goes bankrupt before she can. At the end of the strip, she ends up as an office manager at Myers-Peterson instead.
- Happily Married: To Scott.
- Headdesk: Marla's response to some of Stuart's more inane demands.
- Heroic BSoD: 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.
- Jerkass Ball: Has been known to grab it from time to time; especially with the newer employees. In the October 5th, 2017 strip, Marisa finds out her hours have been cut so the holiday help can be trained, since corporate hasn't raised payroll yet — by having to look at the shift calendar instead of Marla just telling her.Marisa: How is that —Marla: [holding her hand up to stop Marisa from finishing] Because retail. That's the answer to all your follow-up questions.
- 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 taking time off work, which was very unusual for her.
- Nice to the Waiter: Marla makes a point of being kind to other retail workers; she knows exactly what it's like.
- Pet the Dog: When she runs into Brice by chance at the coffee shop, after he left the store, and finds out he's unhappy at Delman's, she tries to convince Stuart to give him the senior management job, despite how rude he was when he handed in his two weeks notice. Stuart lampshades this, wondering why she's sticking her neck out for him (but actually he's desperate enough to hire Brice anyway, he just won't admit it).
- Screw This Im Outof Here: At the end of the strip when she gets her new job, she gives Stuart her notice to his face and walks out, leaving him to work on the liquidation by himself. She admits that he got off easy.
- 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.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: The longer she works at Grumbel's the more jaded she becomes — working with Brice and later Crystal shows how she's been at the job way too long and is becoming way too abrasive.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Val.
Stuart started out as the manager of Grumbel's, with Marla as his assistant manager. He leaves the majority of his work for Marla to do, while he spends his time following any and all instructions from the corporate office to the letter and making sure that all of his employees are doing the same. He would rather prevent a member of staff from serving a customer just to follow some needless procedure, and is genuinely baffled when Marla questions what he's doing. Stuart is focused on making money for the store above everything else, and spends as little time with customers as he can get away with. He's very behind the times, and panics whenever he has to work on the shop floor as a regular employee.
Stuart isn't well thought of by the majority of the staff at Grumbel's, though he and Marla grudgingly get along. Stuart is very fond of Josh, and offers him Marla's job while she's away on vacation. Unfortunately this backfires horrendously when Josh is unable to accept, leaving Marla extremely annoyed at him. Eventually Stuart is offered the position as district manager, and is asked to appoint Marla as manager. He still operates out of Marla's store, and is harder on her than the rest, insisting that 'their' store has to set an example to the rest.
When Grumbel's closed at the end of the strip, Marla and most of the staff quit, forcing him to work the liquidation by himself. He said that he would retire after Grumbel's liquidation was complete.
- 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. He barely treats Marla any better.
- Bald of Evil: While he's not strictly evil, Stuart is bald.
- Berserk Button: Stuart has an extreme hatred of Walmart, and once forbade Marla from ever mentioning its name.
- 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.
- Averted as of late, as Stuart appears relatively frequently now. He's usually seen talking to Marla on the phone.
- Friend to All Children: Despite being rather contemptible to adults, Stuart is always nice to kids. He was genuinely giddy when Marla introduced her new baby to him.
- 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.
- Stuart was initially very angry when Marla missed work, until he found out it was because she was pregnant. Upon learning that, Stuart backpedaled immediately, and even gave her time off to recover from childbirth.
- 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.
- Pet the Dog: Despite his immense dislike of Cooper, he admitted that he did a good job as closing store manager.
- 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.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Stuart is a complete jerk on the job, but his life outside of his work is never shown. He does have the odd Pet the Dog moment all the same, suggesting that he's just Married to the Job.
- Straw Misogynist: Stuart has shades of this, but he's nowhere near as bad as Jerry.
- Yes-Man: He's this to anyone above him. Stuart is a complete suck-up to district manager Jerry, but after he found out that the regional manager (the only position above the district manager) disliked Jerry, Stuart threw Jerry under the bus to make himself look good.
Brice was Marla's third assistant manager, hired to replace Arthur. Currently a Store Manager in the New Hampshire Store. He's another one that Stuart recommended, though unfortunately for Grumbel's he's more like the suck-up Josh than the well-liked Arthur. Brice comes from a much wealthier Grumbel's and is unable to get used to working with a far lower budget. He's a stickler for the rules, and insists that it's completely possible for them to fulfill their sales goals without going against what corporate suggests. Marla issues a challenge; he has to work in a department on his own, like the members of her staff would be expected to do, and meet sales goals without cutting corners. Brice takes her up on her offer, only to fail.
Brice then slowly starts to question corporate and Stuart's way of doing things, especially when he sees how little Marla has to work with. He's not quite as bad as Josh, he reluctantly agrees with Marla and respects her because she's his boss, and does what she asks of him. He's also quick to congratulate members of staff when they do exceptional work, and encourages them to keep doing their best.
Brice, being frustrated with the job — mainly because Marla usually sides with the staff and not him — leaves Grumbel's a year later when he takes up an offer at the competing Delman's, unaware that Stuart was going to offer him a Senior Management job at another store — mainly because he was so condescending to Mara when he tendered his resignation that she saw no reason to tell him.
After he works at Delman's, he confesses to Marla how wrong he was to move to Delman's. Marla calls Stuart and tells him about everything. While at first, Stuart didn't want to even think about Brice, Stuart was so desperate for a Store Manager that he offers him a job as Store Manager in the New Hampshire store where Brice currently is.
- Aesop Amnesia: Despite the Broken Pedestal moment listed below, Brice never stops acting smug and unfriendly to the staff.
- Finally averted after working at Delman's. Acknowledged by Brice in one strip.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Brice expressed desire to work for someone who had an opposite approach to Marla's management style. He ended up getting his wish when he went to work for Mina, and almost immediately regretted it.
- Break the Haughty: Due to his smug attitude and refusal to learn humility, he gets the lessons of retail browbeaten into him. They eventually start to stick when he sees how little Marla has to work with compared to his old, higher-class store, and how an awful Bad Boss can really affect the work ethic of their employees.
- Broken Pedestal: When he first appeared, Brice idolized Stuart, considering him a wise mentor. However, over time he started losing respect for him, first when Stuart accidentally made Brice look like a crybaby to Marla and Cooper after Stuart told Marla to take it easy on him (after Brice complained that he thought Marla didn't like him), then later when he was on the receiving end of Stuart's idiotic management policy.
- Crossing the Burnt Bridge: He goes back to Grumbel's after his experiences with Delman's, taking a rather vitriolic phone call from Stuart and apologizing to Marla for his behavior before he leaves.
- Foil: To Josh. While Josh never grew out of his bad behavior, Brice has. Very slowly.
- Jerkass: Completely unsympathetic to Donnie when he gets a second job, calling him "disloyal"; and then he goes to find another job himself.
- Jerkass Realization: Working at Delman's made him realize how much of a jerk he was at Grumbel's.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He loses a promotion, because he was so disrespectful to Marla when he gave her his notice that she saw no reason to tell him about Stuart's offer. And he quickly regrets leaving Grumbel's as he learns how horrible Mina is, but he knows he can't do anything about it.
- Eventually subverted, when Marla takes pity on him and manages to convince Stuart to give him the promotion anyway (which luckily is still open)
- No Respect Guy: None of the staff respect him since he's disrespectful to them.
- Put on a Bus: Averted. Even after leaving Grumbel's, the strip continues to feature him adjusting to his new job at Delman's, with an entire arc focusing on him.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Marla acknowledged that Brice could have changed his ways, but that doesn't mean she'll easily forgive him for the jerkass behavior she (and others) had to endure when he was her assistant.
- Running Gag: Brice hates having to run the register.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Leaves Delman's at the very first opportunity due to how toxic the store is.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: He used to work in a very high-end Grumbel's and has trouble adjusting to one which caters to average-income people.
Crystal is Marla's fourth and current assistant manager, being hired to replace Brice.
Crystal was originally interviewed a year prior as a possible replacement for Arthur, but Marla had to settle on Brice instead because he was more qualified. When Brice left, however, Marla had no one else to fall back on; Crystal, in spite of her counter-cultural beliefs, was the only other person who had any retail management experience, having worked as an assistant manager at the Pewter and Incense store for 6 months before they closed down.
Unlike Marla's previous assistants, Stuart had no hand in her getting hired, not even interviewing her, as he was too busy trying to replace all the managers that were sacked for embezzlement. Marla noted the irony that Stuart decided to trust her instinct the one time she had to pick someone out of desperation.
In 2020, she is promoted to Store Manager during the liquidation after Marla quit.
- Ascended Extra: Crystal appeared a year before she became a regular as just another weirdo applicant that Marla interviewed.
- I Choose to Stay: She and Lunker stay for the store's liquidation, with her given advice by Marla of what salary to demand from Stuart to replace her.
- Old Friend: She's been friends with Lunker since they were kids, notably she's the only person he's okay with calling him Mel.
- Naïve Newcomer: She's a bit too trusting when it comes to the retail world.
Former Grumbel's Management
Jerry started out as the district manager for Grumbel's, who was even more obsessed with rules than Stuart, to the point of judging stores by his own painfully high standards, rather than the more reasonable ones set by the corporate office. While he admires Stuart, he thinks very little of Marla, to the point of purposefully getting her name wrong. He's sexist and needlessly harsh, and isn't all that popular with staff because of his attitude. While he's going through a messy divorce, Marla even bitterly suggests that she can't blame his wife for leaving him.
Jerry briefly leaves his position to become a regional manager, but forcibly takes his job back from his replacement, Gary, when the position of regional manager is eliminated. Jerry finally quits his job for good a few years later, and hands over the position of district manager to Stuart. While he recommends Marla for the manager's position, it seems to be because he believes that Grumbel's will have to pay her less, due to being female.
- Hate Sink: Jerry's incredibly petty, bigoted, and condescending. Controlling managers are a frequent presence in retail but Stuart and Brice are given a number of moments of sympathy, pity, and karma while Jerry isn't and he remains an antagonistic jerk.
- Karma Houdini: Jerry never did get any comeuppances for all the years he made Marla's life miserable. Even Stuart got what he deserved occasionally.
- 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, because Marla knew the ruse by now.
- 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.
- 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.
Connie briefly acts as district manager after Jerry gets promoted to regional manager. She's kind, efficient, and thinks highly of Marla. She can also see that Stuart isn't quite up to his job, and often points out his mistakes. Connie makes a point of helping every single one of the stores in her areas with their inventory counts, and often pops in just to see how things are going. She has a strong dislike towards Jerry, and is the one who tells Marla that he always forgot her name on purpose.
Unfortunately Connie is offered a job with another company after just a year as district manager, much to Marla and Val's disappointment.
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 his two weeks' 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 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?"Cooper: "Nobody likes you."
- 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.
- Jerkass: 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, although he was mentioned a few times since then.
- 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.
After Marla fires Josh in a fit of anger, Arthur is one of the three assistant managers who are recommended by Stuart as a replacement. And despite being recommended by Stuart, Arthur is both hard working and and intelligent, and can easily see the flaws in Grumbel's nonsensical orders. He gets along amazingly well with Marla, and is helpful and friendly to the rest of the staff, though he doesn't allow himself to be a pushover either. He's got a great sense of humour, and is quick to make fun of both customers and Grumbel's. He's a lot like Marla when she was an assistant manager, though he's a little more easy going when it comes to Cooper's shenanigans.
Despite being the best assistant manager that Marla has had to date, Arthur is offered a better paying office job and decides to leave. While the Grumbel's staff are sad to see him go, they're more upset at the fact he managed to get such a cushy job.
- Benevolent Boss: He was much more reasonable than Josh, and was well-liked by others, despite being recommended by Stuart.
- Deadpan Snarker: Arthur is just as blunt and sarcastic as the rest of the Grumbel's staff, and they like it.
- 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.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Arthur's required to dress smartly as assistant manager, and is grateful for it when the horrible staff uniforms come in.
Val is an aspiring writer who currently works as a department supervisor at Grumbel's. She's close friends with Marla, and has worked with her for over a decade. She unfortunately has very little success with her writing, though she does start blogging for a gardening magazine. Val eventually wants to quit working in retail so that she can write full-time, but it doesn't look as if it's going to happen anytime soon.
Val's family are incredibly wealthy, and have been supporting her financially for years, under the misguided belief that she's a successful writer. When Val finally admits that she's actually working at Grumbel's, her father cuts her off. Val leaves her luxurious apartment and downsizes to something more suitable, but doesn't appear to be struggling for money in the aftermath.
Val started dating Cooper after he asked her out on Valentine's Day 2011. They've been together ever since, and Cooper moved in with Val towards the end of 2014. Cooper popped the question in early August 2018, and she accepted, but (knowing about her family's likely reaction), they don't set a date quite yet. In January 2019, they married at the courthouse with no friends or family present. Val did not want to have a ceremony and told her family while Cooper told their friends after they got married.
Val quit Grumbel's towards the end of the strip's run when Cooper told her that his new job paid enough that he could support both of them, finally fulfilling her dream of working as a writer full-time.
- 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.
- 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 works in the stockroom at Grumbel's and doesn't always take his job seriously, though he does behave better around the people that he respects, namely Marla and the temporary assistant manager Arthur. He hates working in retail, but shows little interest in trying to get another job, though he did briefly attempt to go back to college in order to get some better qualifications. Cooper wants to be rich, but he doesn't want to put in any hard work to get there. Ironically he did win a considerable amount of money once, but that went towards paying his hospital bills for an emergency appendectomy.
Cooper often struggles to make ends meet, and when he's unable to get enough hours at Grumbel's, he's forced to take a temporary second job at a gas station's mini mart. As he only works part-time, he's not entitled to any health benefits or paid vacation time. Cooper is quite gifted at his job, he's able to assemble displays and handle shipments better than the other members of staff, but he spends a lot of his time creating cardboard sculptures and antagonising Stuart or the Christmas help. While Cooper is polite to customers when needed, he's not afraid to stand up to the ruder ones.
When Marla is made manager, she instantly promotes Cooper to stockroom supervisor against Stuart's recommendation. Cooper's money worries are significantly reduced, he no longer needs a second job and he proves himself to be incredibly apt at his new position, though he doesn't quite lose his playful side.
Cooper has quite a few friends at Grumbel's, but he's especially close to Marla, Val and Lunker. He has a crush on Val, and eventually asks her out on Valentine's Day 2011. They end up becoming a couple, and Cooper eventually moves in with her towards the end of 2014. They then get engaged (with no date set for the wedding, intentionally) in early August 2018. In January 2019, they married at the courthouse with no friends or family present. Val did not want to have a ceremony and told her family while Cooper told their friends after they got married.
In 2020, at the end of the strip, Cooper left Grumbel's and was hired at a shipping company, noting to Val that he has full benefits and his wage is almost double at entry level what he was being paid at Grumbel's.
- Alliterative Name: Cooper Costello. This seems to be a trend for the main characters.
- 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.
- Non-Promotion: When Grumbel's is forced to close some stores do to a restructuring, Cooper is given the job of overseeing the closing of one since its manager quit and none of the other managers can spare the time. Cooper is still expected to do his regular job too, and although he gets a little extra money, Stuart makes it abundantly clear it's only temporary.
- Office Romance: With Val.
- Plagued by Nightmares: Played for laughs. Cooper usually ends dreaming about work or Stuart, and they end up with him sitting bolt upright in bed.
- 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 for Marla, keeping his ear 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.
- Ruptured Appendix: Happened to Cooper in one storyline.
- 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.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: He gets a bonus for his stint as a closing manager to the tune of $28,000. He doesn't keep it because it's an obvious accounting error and Marla makes him call Stuart about it, rather than go through the painful realism of Grumbel's suing him for it back and the damage it could do to his reputation if he tried to keep it. Ironically when he calls Stuart about it, Stuart tells him that nobody would've noticed and thanks Cooper for his honesty.
Lunker works in the stockroom with Cooper, and is the first employee that Cooper is unable to scare away with his usual tactics. This is because that Lunker is around seven feet tall, completely bald, and looks incredibly intimidating. He's actually an incredibly sweet and intelligent person, and seems to enjoy his job; he's more bewildered than annoyed by customers. He has a simple outlook on life, and has a habit of coming up with either incredibly insightful questions or downright strange ones. While Lunker is a lot more gentle than he looks, he's not above threatening shoplifters, rude customers and robbers if it's called for.
Lunker ends up becoming close friends with Cooper, to the point of threatening Stuart so that Cooper can keep his job; Lunker even ends up splitting his hours so that he can share the job with Cooper. Lunker also gets a second job with Cooper at the gas station's mini mart, but quits after a terrifying experience with a robber. Even if the incident ended up with the robber in the hospital with broken ribs.
He continues to work at Grumbel's and is incredibly loyal to both Cooper and Marla.
- 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. He also either has built or will build a working TARDIS. Time-Travel Tense Trouble, mind you.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: All Lunker wants is a cat of his own.
- Manly Tears: Lunker tears up on hearing about Cooper's past.
- Old Friend: He was friends with the current assistant manager, Crystal, when they were kids.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Lunker's real name, Mel, is rarely mentioned. Everyone calls him Lunker.
- Third-Person Person: Lunker always refers to himself as Lunker.
- Undying Loyalty: Seems to have this for Cooper.
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.
- Naïve 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.
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.
- 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.
- Remember the New Guy?: It's stated that Heather was originally hired as a Christmas help, but she didn't make her first appearance until after the holidays, when Marla offered her a permanent job.
- 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.
A barista who could be Marla's twin, albeit with blonde hair. Dates Cooper briefly.
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.
- Ultimate Job Security: Despite being a horrible employee, Stuart never considered firing her because she was paid less than the more competent employees (he had no trouble firing them because they were paid more). Marla, however had no problem firing her, when she finally had enough.
The former assistant manager, now current store manager at Delman's. Mina is portrayed as self-serving and always looking for a way to move up the corporate ladder herself (including falsifying comparison prices between Grumbel's and Delman's to harm her current manager). While comparing prices, Marla and Mina bonded with each other, to the point that Marla considered hiring Mina as a replacement for Josh. According to Amber, Mina once worked at a different Abersnobby and Finch, in the describing her as "the most evil manager in the store's history." She has been known to steal Grumbel's interviews whenever an opening or Christmas help is needed.
- Bad Boss: She's a horrible manager! As we see during Brice's short tenure her employees are either timid and abused, or just as back-stabbing and catty as she is.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: As mentioned above, when she and Marla first met, Mina acted as though she was the same kind of well-meaning manager as Marla is.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The other jerkass managers shown in the strip can be described as misguided at best, but Mina truly is evil.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even she's appalled by Grumbel's paltry pay.
- Evil Counterpart: To Marla. To drive this home, in her first appearance her manager is portrayed as a trusting and thoughtful bald guy: a Good Counterpart to Stuart.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Most of her assistant managers quit on her on the spot, without notice simply because she's so horrible to work for.
Family & Friends
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.