Why I Love Working in Retail

People might be genuinely concerned about me after reading the title. Me? Loving my retail job? A shy, quiet female actually enjoys working in a clothing store? Whaaaaaaaat.

Yes, it’s true. And I wish I started sooner.

I work as a sales associate at a Plato’s Closet. I’m going to assume you’re unfamiliar with this because most everyone is. I’ll go into the history and the spiel I tell most customers.

Plato’s Closet is a store for the teens and twenty-somethings where we buy and sell used clothing at a discounted price. It’s an American franchise; there’s close to 400 in the states and only about ten across Canada. People bring in clothing and accessories (purses, shoes, jewelry etc.) to sell to us and we pay cash on the spot for them. So, we are not consignment. We price everything 50-70% less than retail value and then we pay the customer about 30-40% of what we sell it at. If it’s priced at $10, we pay them $3-$4.

Most customers enjoy the store, both for shopping and selling. I’m happy when customers are happy, and if customers are happy even if they are getting $10 for all their items, that makes me even happier.

There are times when customers get angry or offended we don’t accept their items, but we are taught and trained to take clothing/accessories that is very recent (bought within a year and a half) and we have a binder full of brand labels to check so that we know it’s recent and on trend. But, for every irritated customer, there’s ten happy ones right behind them.

I am the oldest associate working there. The owner’s daughter is the manager and she’s 25. But, after me, most of the employees are still in high school. It sometimes feel weird working with girls who are, on average, five years younger than me, but it’s very interesting working with them as well. We joke around a lot (and some of it is about the age difference; most of them were only like 1 year old when the Spice Girls became popular!) but I consider them all my friends. We’ve hung out outside of work multiple times, and while some people may find that weird (my mother does), its always fun and enjoyable when we do.

I also don’t understand how I ever spent money on clothing before working here. We do get a 20% discount, but this should be said to: any and all high quality items that come in (Lululemon, TNA, Michael Kors, Coach etc.) we do not get discounts on unless it’s been on the sales floor for a full week, and we need to come in on our own time to buy them. But half the time I don’t care about these high quality items for myself nor would they usually fit me. I haven’t shopped at the mall since before Christmas, and even the stuff I did buy at the mall was in clearance.

We’ll get items that come in that still have original price tags on them, and I wonder how I could have ever spent $25 on a plain t-shirt when we price ours between $3 and $10. I’ve bought multiple dresses and the most I ever spent on one has been approximately $14, and that dress was from Suzy Shier which is usually about $40 for a single dress.

I studied public relations during my four years at university, but working at Plato’s has taught me more about communication and public speaking than those four years ever did for me.

I’ve had some old friends ask me why am I working retail after finishing school, and I just wanna shake them and say: “Do you know how hard it is to get a job in your field?” Because it is. But, I would be torn if I had to choose between working at Plato’s and working in a PR job: that’s how much I love my job.

It’s been good for my overall communications skill, but it’s helped me mentally as well. I was in a rut last year and had gone through some things, and while I’m still working through issues and working on myself, Plato’s Closet has brought me to life. I’m excited to get up in the mornings and go to work and see customers and work alongside my co-workers. I want to continue loving my life as much as possible, and for now, Plato’s is helping with that.