There are more than a few of these lists floating around on the web, but we’re going to look at working at retail stores from a bit of a different angle. Most lists such as these focus on factors like employee satisfaction, pay level, or even the “cool factor” (a store that’s the kind of place you love telling your friends that you work for).
With jobs being so difficult to get in general, this list is instead based on the following:
- Benefits and perks. Some retailers offer benefit packages (including health insurance), as well as store discounts and other perks. With millions of people going without health insurance, this is no small selling point.
- Geographic mobility. Retail tends to employ younger people, retirees, and people in career transitions, for whom mobility is often a factor. A retailer with outlets in most of the country can make the job portable—you can move to another city or state and work for the same company when you get there.
- Training/preparation for other jobs or careers. This will be a major factor. Most people don’t stay in retail for very long, so the training or preparation for work in another field is more significant than we usually realize.
Why not use pay as a criteria? It’s no secret that retail isn’t the best field to work in if pay is your primary motivation. In fact, many retailers start their employees out at minimum wage or only slightly higher. If you’re looking for higher paying jobs, this isn’t that article. However, these are still great jobs based on the criteria mentioned above.
Here are the 10 best retail stores to work for this year. Let’s get started!
The 10 Best Retail Stores to Work For (2012)
1. Apple Stores
This store offers an opportunity to get a foot into the technology door, and that can have all kinds of future career implications. Not only are you working with Apple products, but you’re also gaining valuable experience talking and selling technology.
Apple Stores are popping up in malls across the country, so geographic mobility is excellent. The company offers employee benefits to both full and part-time employees.
Want to learn about cars without getting your hands dirty (OK, without getting them really dirty like a mechanic does)? Then AutoZone is for you. You can learn all about car parts, what they do, and what they really cost (versus what you’ll pay your mechanic for them). This could be a way to eventually move into auto repair or even auto sales.
The company is all over the US, and has an impressive benefits package that also extends to part-timers. And if job security is ever a factor in retail, car parts will always be needed, even during the worst recessions.
3. Best Buy
Very much like Apple Stores, Best Buy opens the technology door. Only with Best Buy, the experience is more complete since you’ll work with so many more products from many more manufacturers.
Best Buy is also a national chain, and has full benefits for full time employees. Most retailers have employee discounts, and Best Buy is no exception. But it’s the range and type of products that make this store more . . . interesting.
The exposure to the sheer volume of music, books, and entertainment that F.Y.E. provides has at least some future career potential. Since you will be well acquainted with products that have a solid secondary market, you may even parlay the training into a game, music, or DVD exchange.
Company locations are all over the map, they offer full benefits and a “generous” employee discount on all store merchandise.
If you’re considering a future as an interior designer, a real estate sales stager (someone who strategically rearranges household furnishings to maximize property salability), or in some niche in the specialty furniture industry, IKEA could be the place to start. They have a knack for making furniture exciting, and that opens up some possibilities.
The company has outlets in much of the country, and is rumored (the company website doesn’t disclose this) to have a full benefits package for its full-time employees.
Do you want to go into the jewelry business? Helzberg Diamonds could be the place to get your feet wet. They pay an hourly rate, but also offer commissions on “every sale.” Not only does that offer a chance to earn more money, but you’ll also be learning sales and that’s its own career even apart from jewelry.
The company offers a full benefit package, including a “generous discount” on store merchandise after 90 days of employment.
You can learn at least something about virtually any trade by working somewhere in Lowe’s—plumbing, electrical, carpentry, landscaping . . . it’s all there. Just learning what the various tools of the trade are and what they do, as well as pricing, measuring, and interacting with trades people could be the first step into a new career.
Lowe’s offers full benefits to their employees, including part-timers. And as far as geographic mobility, they have a store in nearly every community in the country.
Nordstrom is one of the best examples of a high-end retailer. Many employees work on commission, which prepares you for a career in sales. You can move between departments until you find the one that works best for you, become an expert in that area, then take your sales skills and expertise just about anywhere you like.
Nordstrom stores are all over the country, and they offer full benefits for full-time employees, and there are also strong rumors that they provide them for part-timers as well.
Not only do you learn customer service and some semblance of the food service industry, but becoming a coffee barista (an expert in coffee preparation and in all things coffee) can be a career unto itself.
There’s probably no retail operation that has more stores in more places than Starbucks, so if you get tired of one location, there’s always another one to move onto. Starbucks also provides full benefits to both full and part-time employees.
10. Verizon Wireless
This is another entry point into technology, or at least the communications side of it. Employees work on salary plus commissions, which once again brings an exposure to sales and all the career possibilities that holds. The ability to take the technical and be able to relate it to non-technical people (customers) is a skill well worth developing. Verizon offers full benefits, including on-the-job training and tuition assistance.
Although we didn’t consider employee satisfaction, pay level, or the “cool factor” in this list, I think most people will find one or more of those qualities in any of these retailers.
Are there other retailers you want to add? Leave a comment below and give a “shout out” to your favorite employer!
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