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If you asked seven year old Kristine if she thought she would be working retail, she would’ve giggled and said, “Like at a store?” As a 23 year old, I am so happy to have retail experience under my belt. If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you know that my post-graduate experience has been nothing short of surprising. Initially, I decided to work retail as a way to earn money while I continued to look for a job. It’s been almost four months (wow) and I am purring like a kitten. That’s not to say that there haven’t been moments where I want to pull out my hair at something that a customer said or did, but those are few and far between. Today, I’m sharing with you the bigger takeaways I’ve had so far while working retail. I’d love to hear about the experiences of others who have worked retail – if that’s you, leave me a comment with what retail taught you at the end of the post.
Ask the Right Questions
As I’ve gotten older, I have become significantly more patient. That being said, I hate to waste time. I’ve found that there’s quite a fine line between the two when a guest is taking what feels like 2 years to spit out what it is they’re looking for. Working in retail has taught me to ask the right questions. If someone doesn’t know what type of product they should be looking for, ask what concern they’re trying to address. If someone wants you to recommend an item from a particular brand, ask where in their routine there is a hole that needs to be filled. I’ve found that learning to ask the right questions is also helpful when helping myself and my loved ones through issues we’re facing. There’s nothing like sitting back to listen for missing information in order to guide you to the “right” question.
(More on the blog: What I’ve Learned from Working 8 to 5)
Don’t Wear Worn Out Shoes
There’s nothing like being on your feet for six hours straight that will test the quality of your shoes. You’ll know by about hour four and a half that it’s time for new ones (or at least insoles) when you knees and lower back start to slowly ache. Maybe someone has some ibuprofen you can take, but it’s a long shot. Stretching and squirming around won’t help much and by the time you sit your butt in the car to head home, you are ready to burn your shoes. I just had to part ways with my much-loved Sam Edelman flats because the exterior of the shoe was separating from the inside… Don’t worry though, I treated myself to these ones from Nine West – yes, they ARE on major sale. Turns out my dad was right all these years: don’t skimp on shoes.
You Can Improve Your Memory by Practicing
I always admired restaurant servers’ abilities to memorize the laundry list of items, customizations and special requests and successfully relay them to their POS systems. While my memory isn’t quite on their level just yet, I’m impressed with how much more I am able to remember. When I say ‘practice’ I don’t mean anything profound or fancy. Merely, test your memory by pushing it a little bit at a time. In retail that looks like a guest asking you to check for two different items in the back while you were en route to check on two separate items for another guest. The first time I ‘practiced’ I repeated the items to myself my entire way to the back. Slightly embarrassing, yes, but it worked! Start small and be persistent.
(More on the blog: Lessons Learned from Harry Potter)
Always Bring Snacks
While this has been a motto of mine for years now, working retail has reinforced it drastically. I can eat breakfast before even the shortest of shifts and still be peckish by the time I am heading home. If I don’t nibble on something on my way home, you can expect I am one hangry lady who is ready to eat anything and everything in sight once I get home. I have a post talking all about some of my favorite healthy snacks. Lately, I’ve been loving plantain chips (I love the ones at Trader Joe’s – $1,69 a bag), pretzels and dry cereal.
Have you ever worked retail? What did you learn?