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9 Important Things to Know Before Working in Retail

Retail is a popular job option among college students, due to the flexible hours and reasonable pay. I’ve worked retail in various clothing stores before and I’ve had positive experiences overall, but I’ve found that it’s very different than what I expected. Here are all the things I wish I knew before working in retail!

It’s important to ask questions

When unsure about where to find something, how to do a register transaction, or how to approach a customer, I’ve found that it’s a lot better to ask questions than to guess and mess up. Managers and supervisors are there to help their employees, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help, that’s their job!

Working the register is actually harder than it looks

Not to scare anyone, but I have personally found that register is not nearly as easy as it looks and is one of the hardest parts of any retail job, especially when customers are rude. That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention and ask questions when being trained. After first learning how to work the register, write down the steps when you’re on break or at home; that’s what helped me really learn the different transactions!

Bring Water

As simple as this seems, it’s very important to stay hydrated when working a retail job because you’ll be working on the floor and on your feet for a long time. Almost everyone brings the same water bottles, so write your initials on your water bottle to make sure you won’t take the wrong one by mistake!

Plan your outfits accordingly

Every job will require you to dress differently, so wait to see what the dress code entails before buying work clothes. Some jobs will make you wear a company t-shirt or follow a certain color scheme. If there is no dress code, be sure to look presentable but be comfortable. Don’t wear heels if you don’t have to! When I first worked in clothing stores, I always wore my cutest heeled booties and as confident as I felt when I clocked in, my feet were killing me by the time I clocked out.

Don’t expect a break

You may or may not get a break depending on where you work and what your hours are. Some places give you a break if you work a certain number of hours, some give paid breaks and some give optional breaks… just don’t ask what you’ll be getting right away because you don’t want to seem lazy.

Have a transportation plan

Punctuality is crucial when it comes to retail, so be sure to know how you will be getting to work and that you can arrive on time! Also, make sure that you know how you’ll be getting home once your shift ends, especially if you’ll be working a night shift.

Get ready to be tired

As said earlier, a big part of retail is talking to people and being on your feet, so get ready to be sleepy after a day of work!

Plan your meals for your work day

Since retail has a very wide range of hours and usually doesn’t allow eating while working, it’s important to eat food that will keep you energized before your shift starts and while on break.

Smile, smile, smile!

Dealing with customers can be scary at first, especially if you’re shy. Even if you’re lacking in confidence, a big smile will help you seem a lot friendlier and more approachable!

Zoe Nolz

Montclair '21

Zoe is a student at Montclair State University. She is the current Fashion and Beauty Editor for Her Campus Montclair. When she is not in class or doing work, you can catch her hanging with friends, shopping, writing, watching movies, drinking smoothies, just chilling or off on an adventure!
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