Why Everyone Should Work Retail At Least Once

Anyone who has worked in retail can and will tell you that these aren’t the most glamorous jobs to exist. You don’t need to have first-hand experience to come to this conclusion yourself; sit around and observe a few employees and you may just see some of the horrors of retail. Eventually the job becomes tedious and repetitive. You complete the same tasks day in and day out with little to keep you going besides the paycheck. Sometimes these jobs don’t offer much room for growth and leave the employee feeling forgotten, unappreciated, and trapped. If you’ve worked one of these jobs, you don’t need me to explain how draining this is for your soul over a longer period of time.

However, over a short period of time, one to two years, an employee can learn a bit of information about themselves, other people, and how to behave when in a store. Working retail can be enlightening and a life teacher. You learn how to communicate, be respectful of others and property, and how to be humble.

You’ll learn store etiquette

As an employee of one of the world’s largest fashion brands, the biggest pet peeve of mine is finding clothing and accessories on the floor. In all reality, it’s inevitable and something I don’t expect to be solved ever. Accidents happen, people unknowingly knock things over or they hang them incorrectly and the piece falls. I’ve seen people drop things purposefully or place them on the floor because they don’t remember where they found the items. When you work retail, you’ll learn that “bothering” an employee and handing them the item is better than placing the clothes on the floor. We don’t consider it to be bothersome and would prefer that you do that instead of throwing it wherever. Chances are we know where the item belongs and don’t mind restoring the item to its proper place.

You’ll treat employees with respect

Working in retail, you’ll come to know that rude customers are the worst kind of customers to deal with. Give us complaining customers, customers with a lot of questions, but the rude customer is the one you want to avoid interacting with and becoming. There’s nothing worse than having a good day ruined by a customer who blames you for advertising with tiny print that explains the pricing, a customer fighting with you over the store’s return policy, or any other aspect of the company that you are not in control of. You’ll learn that the employee is just taking instruction from corporate and that the customer service line is there to be your shoulder to lean on in trying times. After all, it’s their job to report complaints to the people who can actually do something about it.

You’ll learn that the customer isn’t always right

When my parents worked retail, the saying “the customer is always right” was what managers lived by. The happiness of the customer took precedent over anything the employee had to say of the situation. Thankfully now, that seems to be a thing of the past. In fact, more often than not the customer is wrong and the employee is just doing their job and following protocol. When speaking with other retail employees in the future, you’ll learn to back down when you’re wrong and gracefully leave the situation. There will be no rudely asking to speak to the manager who will tell you the same thing or talking down on an employee because they told you something you disagreed with or didn’t want to hear.

You’ll learn to work with difficult people

Maybe in your future career you won’t have to deal with people. That, however, is very unlikely. Working retail will help you develop problem-solving and communication skills that most people don’t develop until they start working in their field. You’ll deal with the aforementioned unruly customer, the complaining customer, and solving their needs that keeps them happy and makes money for the company. Your job is to mediate and ensure that the customer’s experience is a positive one and that their needs are met while in the store. This translates well when working with clients or people that have needs that have to be met. You’ve already gained the necessary experience to communicate with that person and meet their demands no matter how difficult the client or request may be.


Working in retail is without a doubt a painful experience at times. However, a person can learn how to be a better shopper, life and professional skills that people who don’t work retail may not have until they dive into their first career. If there’s something that you’ve learned or think people can learn from retail that wasn’t mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment!

Giovanna Byrd

2 thoughts on “Why Everyone Should Work Retail At Least Once

  1. So true! Great article. Even working as a waitress was very grounding. These experiences definitely allow us to gain respect for other retail workers (and treat them like people! It’s not that hard!) Good point: often times it can be grueling, but only you later realize how much your communication skills have developed. Well done!

  2. Giovanna, this couldn’t be any truer! I’ve worked in various retail jobs that taught me patience and working with a myriad of people and their tempers. Communication is probably the most crucial aspect of working any job, but it’s almost the only thing that matters in retail, so I’m glad you brought that point up. And the customer is definitely not always right!

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