Job in about 50 words:
Have you ever made a citizen’s arrest as a officer of the fashion police? Is your favorite room your closet? Do you enjoy working in customer service? Then a job selling fine threads and choice accessories may be right for you. Of course, you don’t need to be able to spot a counterfeit Coach bag from across the mall to be qualified - as long as you enjoy a fast-paced workday spent interacting with customers, you’ll be a great store associate.
The good news is that your training will teach you everything you need to know to succeed on the job. But here are a few traits and skills you should have from the get-go:
- Outgoing and friendly personality: You are the face of the store, and first impressions can make or break a customer’s experience. Whether you’re greeting customers as they enter the store or you’re checking them out at the register, a kind and courteous demeanor is the rule. In other words, lose the attitude and be sure to keep a mint in your pocket. (Yell at the mannequins if you need to blow off steam.)
- Patience: This isn’t a job for slackers. Eight hours on your feet folding, sorting, helping and chatting can take a physical and mental toll. You will work with customers who need different clothing sizes, colors, washes, fits and patterns; and their personalities will vary just as much. Your job is to help them find what they need and make them feel good so they will buy the clothes. And when the answer to “Do I look good in this?” is definitely a “no,” bite your lip and recommend something else.
- Organization: At home you may be able to get away with tossing clothes around your room willy-nilly - and knowing the clean ones are beside your desk and the dirty ones are under the bed - but that system isn’t going to work on the job. A clothing store’s inventory needs to be sorted by size, color, brand, sale items, etc. And you need to know where everything is, including the nearest mirror, bathroom and ATM.
- Cash handling experience: Even though you will have a cash register that does the heavy lifting, a.k.a. math, previous experience balancing a register at the end of the shift certainly helps.
- Pumping iron...er...fabric: You’ll often have to fetch beefy boxes of merchandise and handle stacks of heavy clothing.
Shifts usually fall within the daytime and early evening hours. However, expect longer hours - and more opportunities for shifts - during the holiday season. Weekends may be required or available, too.
Dress the part:
As an employee of a clothing store, you will probably have a specific dress code, typically business casual. (Hint: This is somewhere between your grocery-shopping sweats and your wedding-guest best.) Some employers require you to wear clothing and accessories from the store where you work, which can get expensive. But at least you (probably) get that discount.
If you work in a clothing store, all you do is fold clothes.
We’ll be honest: if you work at a clothing store, your family and friends will be jealous of your perfect shirt-folding skills for the rest of your life (and you might find you’ve been signed up for laundry duty). But you should also know that folding is only half the job. From working the register to greeting and assisting customers, there will be a variety of duties to keep things interesting and get you through the day.
Here is a description of how to be a successful clothing store associate, according to Tracy M. Frank, Manager of Field Staffing for The TJX Companies, Inc.:
“Keep up with the current fashion trends by reading some of the more popular fashion magazines. Know your store’s floor plan, and keep up with current promotions and sale items. Every customer loves a bargain! And don’t forget: Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! By suggesting accessories, you complete your customer’s outfit, and help generate additional sales for your store.”
- Store manager ($40,000 a year, on average)
- District manager $75,000 a year)
- Corporate vice president of human resources ($200,000-plus a year)
- Boutique store owner (a lot of money)