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What to Consider When Working at a Temporary Store

Updated on October 27, 2014
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.


Temporary Stores

You may need to work at a retail position for a number of reasons. Maybe you are looking to find your first job. Perhaps you are out of work and you need a job fast. You could just be looking for some extra income if you are retired or working full-time elsewhere. Whatever the reason may be, you will often find jobs available at temporary stores. The question is, do you want to have a temporary job at a temporary store?

When I talk about temporary stores, I mean the type of retailers that pop up for just a season. Some examples of temporary retailers are:

  • Ornament stands
  • Holiday (Christmas) stores
  • Halloween stores
  • Temporary seasonal carts during the holidays, such as Christmas candy carts
  • Summer carts / stands selling fireworks, flowers, beach supplies, etc.
  • Calendar kiosks at the mall

Depending on your situation, you may decide a temporary shop is the best option for you. However, you should take some things into consideration before agreeing to take that job.

Setting Up the Store

Here is something you may not have thought about before: someone has to set up that temporary retail location. That someone might be you!

When you interview for a temporary retailer, make sure to ask who is setting up the shop. If the temporary location is using the stock people from a separate permanent location affiliated with the retailer, you are all set. Chances are, they will set up the store, cart, kiosk, stand, etc. Make sure to ask if YOU will be the person setting up the store.

In many cases, temporary retailers are trying to make as much money as humanly possible, so that means they expect their newly hired (low pay) employees to do the bulk of the work. If that type of manual labor is appealing to you, then go for it. If not, working at a temporary location is not for you. Better yet, if the store is setting up when you interview for the position, you could tell them you are not able to start right away. If they need a lot of workers, chances are, they will be OK with you starting a week or two later. You just may not get to work the hours you'd like.

The wardrobe at temporary retailers often involves some type of apron going on over your clothes.
The wardrobe at temporary retailers often involves some type of apron going on over your clothes. | Source

Everybody is Temporary

As with anything in life, there are positives and negatives to working at a temporary retail store. A good example of a positive / negative aspect of temp stores is everybody is going to be in the same boat. All your co-workers are new to the position. You can learn everything together. All of you will be confused together. There is a certain camaraderie involved in retail, especially with temporary employees.

Although the feeling of togetherness is wonderful, everyone being newly hired can have its downfalls. At most stores, there are at least a few workers that have been there a while. They can offer assistance and advice. At a temporary store, no one knows exactly what to expect. It is also a challenge when customers ask a basic question, but no one has any answers. You must be able to improvise at a temp store.

Even worse than temp co-workers, you are often working with managers that have little or no management experience (unless they come back each year to work at that particular seasonal store). If you get lucky, you will work with managers with some management experience that are great with scheduling. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and you'll often find a strange schedule awaits you each week. You will likely get calls about subbing for others because their schedules were messed up, too. At a permanent store, eventually the manager learns the needs of the stores and the workers, and scheduling starts to run smoothly after a while. At a temporary store, by the time the manager gets really good at scheduling, the store is about to shut down anyway.

Your co-workers will be an interesting group of people. If a lot of workers are needed for the location, many different types of people will be hired and qualifications won't matter. This could mean you are working with kids fresh out of high school (or still in high school), retirees, people who've been fired from all their other jobs, newly laid off workers, and folks who are new to the area and taking the first job they are offered.

With such a variety of people being hired, this presents some interesting problems. Some folks are not going to show up. Some people are going to call out sick all the time. Then there are those special folks that steal from the register as soon as no one is looking or steal the merchandise off the floor. Plus, you will also find some workers that are trying their absolute best, but still can't master basic tasks. Sometimes it is frustrating, but other times it is downright entertaining. If you can take a step back and laugh, you might be ready for the experience.

The Pay

When you interview for the position, make sure to ask what they pay is going to be. It might sound like a silly bit of advice, but you'd be surprised how you don't always think to ask. Believe it or not, there are still some retailers that pay very experienced workers minimum wage; this is especially the case at temporary positions.

If the pay rate is minimum wage, you need to consider whether it is worth the effort. If you are bored out of your mind and/or desperate, I daresay minimum wage is going to be fine at that time. If, however, you have to drive pretty far and you will be buying lunch or dinner during your shift, you could find that minimum wage is not worth the effort. In some cases, you could easily make more money babysitting or cleaning houses.

If this is your first job, a temporary position with minimum wage is often a good way to get some work experience. You can look at it as a good learning opportunity. You should also remember to be kind to the managers and see if they will be a reference for you in the future when you apply for a better paying, permanent job elsewhere. If you are offered a management position that pays a little more than minimum wage and you've never been a manager before, once again, it can be a good job experience. If you find you don't like being a manager, don't worry - it is only temporary!

Keep Your Wallet on You!

The Break Room is Lacking

In the last section, I could not help but bring up the fact that you may buy lunch each day. Here is something I never considered before until working at a temporary retailer - the break room could be seriously lacking some basics, such as a fridge or microwave. You may not have the option of bringing in last night's leftovers for your meal. For that matter, you may not even have a break room, especially at a cart or kiosk.

If you've worked in retail before, you know there are usually things in the break room that are necessary for employees. Unfortunately, at a temp store, some of those items are not there, such as:

  • Lockers to keep your purse or belongings safe
  • Refrigerator to save money by bringing in your own meals
  • Microwave to cook your food
  • Table and chairs to actually sit down for a real break
  • Decent bathrooms for employees to use

None of this is a huge deal if you are only hanging out a few weeks, but if you are working at a location for a few months, it can be difficult to work at a place with no fridge, no microwave, and no lockers.

As previously mentioned, you could have the misfortune of working with some shady folks. No one wants to leave their purse unattended in a break room. Even if your co-workers don't steal from you, a costumer just might. This means you need to keep your wallet, phone, and anything else of value on you while you work. It can be a real pain. It can also be a real pain having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday since there is no fridge.

Temporary Retailers............. The Good & The Bad


  • You can make new friends.
  • Sometimes you are hired on the spot.
  • Great first job!
  • Great part-time job or second job.
  • Excellent temporary source of income for retirees or stay at home moms.
  • No real commitment in case you don't like the job.
  • Employee discounts.
  • Typically not as strict as most stores.


  • Usually minimum wage.
  • Working on weekends or nights.
  • Many unskilled, new workers.
  • Lack of job security.
  • No benefits or raises.
  • Lack of proper break room.
  • Learning new system and register for a short-term position.
  • Higher chance of theft.

Time to Pack Up

When you really need a job, it is easy to focus on just getting a job. Keep in mind, the job is temporary. Once again, you might want to ask if you'll be expected to pack up everything that does not sell. If so, that will give you an extra incentive to sell as many products as humanly possible. You might even feel like buying some yourself just so you won't have to pack it all.

While working at your temporary job, no matter how much you like it, you should continue to interview at other permanent positions. Time flies by pretty quickly while working in a temp store. The last thing you want to do is find that you are out of work with no interviews lined up during your last week of work. Make sure to get a good idea of when your last working day (or last working week) will be and plan accordingly. Maybe you are retired and it won't make any difference to you. If this is your only source of income, you'd better start making plans the day you accept the job!

Don't wait the last minute to plan ahead and you may find that temporary employment at a temporary retailer works out great for you. As long as you look at your temp job as one big adventure, you will be fine. If too much uncertainty causes you too much stress, you will probably just want to stick to a permanent store, even if it is only a temp job. Working at a temporary retailer can be far more challenging than a regular store, but it can also be rewarding... just don't say I never warned you!

Good luck to you!

Copyright ©2014 Jeannieinabottle


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    FlourishAnyway, that is the way I am looking at it, too. There is no need to turn in a notice as long as you stay the short amount of time the store is open. I am working at Halloween store right now, and although it is interesting, it is not something I will ever do again. One day I will look back and laugh though.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    4 years ago from USA

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least with a temporary store, if you don't like the job, all you need to do is hang in there a little while til it's over. Keep your chin up and keep looking. You're right that everything is really temporary these days.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    billybuc, that is exactly how I feel about every job now. That is why I don't bother putting as much effort into new jobs. That can let go of anybody whenever they like! Thanks for checking out my hub.

    lambservant, I wonder about the hot dog vendor now too. I worked at a cupcake cart once at the mall. Sometimes I was by myself and I would run quickly to the bathroom and hope the cart was still in the same condition when I got back. Perhaps that is what a hot dog vendor does too! I do know we had some missing cupcakes a time or two. It is almost expected. It is a shame! Thanks for your comment.

  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 

    4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    This was interesting. I was scratching my head at the term "Temporary stores" before I read the definition. You brought up things many would not think of. I got to thinking - what does a street hot dog vendor do when he has to use the facilities. Does he leave the cart full of cooking hot dogs on the sidewalk and hunt down a restroom in a business nearby?

    Good stuff.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm beginning to think, Jeannie, that the majority of jobs in this country are "temporary." :) Good information here my friend.


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