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The Personality Benefits in Retail Work

Updated on October 23, 2012

5 Reasons why Everyone Should Work in Retail

Working in an industry which involves constant interaction with others can certainly have its ups and downs. It can be stressful, fun, tiring and enlightening, all at the same time. Needless to say, it certainly paints a completely new picture of the world. Here are some aspects of my personality which have drastically changed due to my experience working in retail:


The sales clerk you yelled at because the store was out of stock? Me. The cashier you yelled at because they forgot to scan your coupon? Me.

There is not one day I can go through a shift at my job without being glared at or yelled at, or flat out ignored, because you decided to come into the store angry as an ape with diarrhea. Every day. Could you imagine being yelled at, every single day, for doing nothing wrong? Chances are, the person you are yelling at has nothing to do with whether or not things go your way.

2: Entitlement:

You are not entitled to extra savings because you are a frequent-customer/Canadian/poor/old/running-late/upset-with-service/etc.

I don't care. I have heard it all. You cannot return an item two years after you purchased it because you were out of the country for two years. You cannot return shoes you "bought for a wedding" and "only wore for a couple of hours." You cannot return a game because your child got bored with it, and you cannot return jeans because your child ripped them playing on the playground. If you only could see how, on a daily basis, people like you look like idiots to people like me, you probably wouldn't walk into every local retailer feeling entitled to a special deal.

3: Empathy:

My back hurts. My back hurts A LOT. You want me to load something into your cart for you because you have a back/shoulder/hip/knee problem. I have back problems. I have to load stuff for people like you multiple times a day. You may have back problems, too, but you sure don't have to load things as often as I do. You would load it three times: Once, into your cart. Secondly, into your car. Third, into your home. On a regular day, I will help between three and eighteen customers an hour (yes, I have actually kept track, working in retail for five years gives you enough time to do that). Many of the customers will want me to load something for them because they see that I am young, and assume that I am fit (or as I see it, "expendable.") If you worked a retail, manual labor or food service job, you would understand how hard the work really is, and not assume things. You would be empathetic to the worker. We work hard (and we don't get paid a lot).

4: Confidence:

You turn sixteen (or seventeen, or eighteen, or twenty-four), and you have spent your entire life going to school, hanging out with your circle of friends, going home to your parent's house and arguing over dinner with your siblings. Aside from high school, where you are given four entire years to learn the names and get to know the five-hundred -or-so other students your age, you have never gone out and met anyone outside of your family circle.

BAM. You get a part-time job working in retail. You are now forced to say hello, and act like you care, to ever. single. person whom crosses your path. You will meet thousands upon thousands of people, and you'll probably catch a few diseases. But you might also make some friends . And you know what? You'll gain the confidence to talk to strangers. I'm not sure where those skills would be applicable in your life, but for me, it has helped in dating, job interviews, making friends, and asking questions while I am in businesses. That half-empty bag of cat litter that encourages your cat to piss on the carpet next to the litter box? Guess what, now that you can talk to people, you can probably get your money back.

5. Experience:

I may not have landed a job yet, but I certainly have gotten a LOT of call backs. The first thing they mention? My five years of sales experience in retail. While you were attending college, you were probably sneaking drinks into your dorm, running for the Associated Student Government, camping on weekends and sleeping in till noon (all on your parent's bill, too). Me? I was the loser that could never go out on weekends because I was at work. I could never hang out at night because I was working the night shift. I was making money, and I was saving money.

Now that I have graduated college, I have some REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE under my belt. That puts me light years ahead of my peers, many whom have not worked a day in their lives.

There are many employable skills you can learn while working in retail: Sales, leadership, customer service, communication and data entry, to name a few.

Has Working in Retail Changed your Outlook?

Have you ever worked in retail, or the service industry? If so, has it changed your outlook?

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    • kathleenkat profile image

      kathleenkat 5 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      It is! And I hope it remains that way...

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      I'm sorry! People can be such self-centered jerks. I had one staged accident, a few arrested shoplifters, an exhibitionist, and a robbery while on duty. Then there are aways the absurd requests and just plain weird people. Those of us that have been in the retail trenches have a good laugh about it now and then. :) I hope Black Friday is now just a memory for you.

    • kathleenkat profile image

      kathleenkat 5 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Thanks! I worked at a "one stop shop" which was basically a grocery store with some clothing, home, garden, and hardware. People were not-so-nice there, especially during the holiday season: Black Friday was awful; it's like, the morning after being thankful on Thanksgiving, people would go to stores and be greedy, unthankful, and rude. Hah.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Kathleen,

      Wow! This is such a good hub.! As one who has worked in sales, mostly retail, for 30 years, I'll agree with you on your top 5 reasons here. Fortunately, even as a manager, I didn't have to deal with angry people often. I guess most people are mellow when shopping for art supplies, designing custom picture framing, and choosing trees, shrubs, and flowers for their gardens. Nevertheless, I always treat those in customer service and sales w/ respect and kindness because I've been there. Voted UP!