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Retail Experience Advice?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hello! Going to ramble on but...TLDR: I'm looking for some retail experience, maybe some advice about what kind of opportunities open up in the future? Is anyone here a Buyer or a Store Manager that can give some advice on how "tough" the job responsibilities are? Is it a big difference working in more high end luxury boutiques?

 

 

 

I'm really leaning towards a career in retail, after having finished up my summer internship at State Street Global Advisors. I worked as a pricing specialist, helping the CFA's decide on prices for the options, shorts, stocks, etc.

 

Currently, I'm working as a part time in Lord & Taylor to get some retail experience and for some reason, being a sales associate was more fun than working in finance. I currently have some time to carefully decide on whether I want to work at Saks for men's clothing or Ferragamo.

 

I understand being in retail would make me much less than what I could make if I were successful in finance, but retail just seems much more exciting at this time.

If anyone could please give me some advice and experience in retail experiences, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by IChen View Post

I'm really leaning towards a career in retail
uhoh.gif
post #3 of 21
Are you still in school?
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Yes. I'm just looking for some tips, if anyone has gone beyond being a sales associate into maybe a buyer or manager and what it was like.

post #5 of 21

You could look into a financial analyst role at one of the department stores (Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc.). It would be very helpful if you knew someone in the finance department and had them give you an internship for a couple weeks since the hiring process isn't too structured from what I've seen.

post #6 of 21
"but retail just seems much more exciting at this time"

The excitement never ends!
post #7 of 21
If you enjoy it, retail can be one of the most rewarding careers out there, but if you dislike it you might as well be in hell.

I've been in retail about 10 years and am looking to get out at this time, but this might give you a good idea of the day to day difficulties:

Entry level is very poorly paid, but if you earn commission (many shops don't) then you can be very profitable. I've worked in jobs where the basic salary is £14,000 but I also made another £16,000 in commission because I was good. This is great when you're young, but try telling a bank that your income is more than 50% dependent on performance and watch them laugh while denying your mortgage.

Retail is 7 days a week. This can work out great or terrible; I hate being outside on a Saturday - there are millions of people cluttering the streets and even the biggest shops have lines that last forever. For me working weekends is great, I do all my "down time" stuff on Mondays and Tuesdays when its quiet.

You will be on your feet all day. I've known people to quit just over this aspect- it takes a serious toll on your body but if you can handle it then you'll be fine.

The upsides are that you never really take your work home with you; nothing is so game-changing in retail that you'll be working on it for months.

In management and high positions, especially for luxury retail the money and benefits are very good and if you're talented then you could easily reach very high levels with no education at all. I know people who dropped out of school at 16, joined a shop, became manager, area manager, regional manager and finally directors on the board within about 10 years.

It is a hard life, and many people will look down on you for not having a "proper job" but it can be very rewarding; the people you meet, the places you travel and the products you sell can all make for a very fulfilled lifestyle.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

The upsides are that you never really take your work home with you; nothing is so game-changing in retail that you'll be working on it for months.
.

I always do, my work email goes right to my phone. Ask style forumers how fast I respond to emails...I'm off today and emailing stock requests. I don't mind and it is not a requirement. But clients really appreciate the speedy service.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses!

 

Is being a manager or area manager really complicated? I noticed that many managers are there to do the paperwork on receiving/stock/sales and also sometimes do a little selling. Are there any tips or difficulties about working at more luxury or high end stores I should know about? I currently really enjoy retail and am trying to learn as much tricks as I can smack.gif for the future :D

post #10 of 21
I am going to tread carefully and speak from prior experience...

1. First thought is managers were successful sales people, who can help coach/train/motivate a sales team.

2. Second thought: Managers played the game well, and are not always the best sales person...Think about the challenge in promoting your #1 sales person to a non selling role, where they are no just receiving merchandise, doing stock work, markdowns, etc....a store director doesn't always want to cut themselves off at the knees by removing someone generating $ for the store. For the most part a #1 salesperson enjoys selling and doesn't want to be removed from the floor.

As for tips. Luxury retail is a skill. I have seen people come thru stores I work at and instantly I can tell that they are in the wrong environment. Likewise, right now there is someone at target providing fantastic speedy service taking pride in their area's appearance and their own personal appearance who would probably make for a great sales person at a high end store someday.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by IChen View Post

Thanks for the responses!

Is being a manager or area manager really complicated? I noticed that many managers are there to do the paperwork on receiving/stock/sales and also sometimes do a little selling. Are there any tips or difficulties about working at more luxury or high end stores I should know about? I currently really enjoy retail and am trying to learn as much tricks as I can smack.gif  for the future biggrin.gif

Just like any other job, try to stay one step ahead of everything. If you're working in a big name luxury store alot of the work is already done for you in terms of stock/promotions/vm. If you're still in a junior position focus on your salesmanship, managing in retail is more about social skills than the work itself.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Interesting thoughts in terms of management and promotions.

post #13 of 21
Worst part is tht you can be making $75k and everyone still thinks your a $10/hr shmuck. They don't realize that you are a $75k schmuck. Some people in the cities make 90-100k and some over $200k but it is more rare.

You work holidays and weekends even as management, you are customer facing...even as management. If you work for a good company you received a great discount which can be helpful if you like the merc, or terrible if you hate the merc but are supposed to wear it.

Promotions are usually there for the person who best tows the company line and is a moderate to good seller. You have to work much harder than most will give you credit for and the job of selling is often filled with surprises, good and bad. The skills are transferrable to other sales fields.
post #14 of 21

Interesting thoughts, never know such insights of the retail industry.. Could learn a bunch here! Thanks!

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post

I know people who dropped out of school at 16, joined a shop, became manager, area manager, regional manager and finally directors on the board within about 10 years.

From high school drop out to a 26 year director on the board huh?

sorry, but bullshit to the max.
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