My first job was a sales position when I was 14 at a beauty shop. I would stand outside of the store and demonstrate a hair gizmo which allowed the ladies to achieve fancy styles within minutes. The staff were really nice so over time they provided product knowledge and taught me how to use an ear piercing gun. This could very well explain my interest in hair and body jewellery.
The gig didn’t last too long, maybe a few months, however I’ve had many other retail opportunities along the way. I learned a lot from the industry especially when it came to selling clothes. I know retail doesn’t always have the best rep because it’s a high-turnover industry with wacky scheduling and not the greatest pay. Despite all these obvious drawbacks, I still managed to have a good time and gained some insight that has helped me to this day.
Service With A Smile
When you’re in an environment that counts on your interactions to generate revenue then you learn to smile pretty quickly. As a customer, I am turned off from purchasing anything from anyone who isn’t happy to help me. It doesn’t make for a good experience so I would rather take my business elsewhere. It’s not just about the money, it’s about creating a brief but pleasant connection with another human being.
How To Fold
When a big part of my duties involved organizing clothes, you better believe that it got cemented into my psyche. Even to this day, I space out the hangers in my closet just right but I try not to get too hung up about it. I also learned how to fold my shirts in order to create neat little towers. I was brainwashed but in a good way!
Attention To Appearance
Working in retail helped me to further understand and develop the importance of aesthetics. We would spend a lot of time (un)dressing mannequins and getting the displays ready for the window shoppers. In a way, retail forces you to pay attention to details just as with the folding. The majority of people feel better entering a store that is neat and organized rather than a chaotic mess. Unless there’s a major sale happening, in that case cleanliness isn’t as important as a good bargain.
Retail was a great experience in learning not only how to deal with customers but also with your colleagues. I’ve worked in places that only paid hourly and others which included commission. We already know that money doesn’t always bring out the best in people. It’s not to say that everyone can’t earn an honest bonus and still work in harmony but it can become an issue with the wrong people. Based on my experience I don’t remember that being too much of a problem.
Some of the perks that came with the territory were the discounts, not only within your store but also if you happen to work in a mall. Besides saving a few pennies, I had a great time socializing with my friends who were doing the retail thing as well. We would be a few stores away from each other and in some cases at the same place.
If you’ve worked retail then you might be able to relate to some of these scenarios.