The Best Things I Learned From Working in Retail (CVS & Macy’s)

I worked at CVS for a little more than a year when I was in college, and I worked at Macy’s for a couple of months before I started my full-time job. Here are some key takeaways from working in retail.


You’ll Spend Your Paycheck At Your Job

At CVS, I was working minimum wage for around 20 to 25 hours a week. And you know what would happen? I would buy things after my shifts more than once. Granted, my employee discount was a nice incentive, but I shouldn’t have been spending my paycheck at CVS the minute it cleared. Since I worked at Macy’s after I graduated and when my bills were higher, I put my paychecks toward bills. It’s all about balance; if there are items you’re out of and you work at a store that offers employee discounts, then pick them up, but if you’re just browsing and buying because of your discount, just put the honey roasted cashews down.

You’ll Be Given More Responsibility Than You Think

Being punctual is something I’ve always valued and really honed when I worked both jobs. Being on time shows your employer you’re reliable and helps the day to day operations run smoothly. Since I was a cashier at CVS, I handled money transactions and I had to make sure I was double checking large bills for counterfeits and giving customers the correct change. Especially in a fast-paced environment like a drugstore, you want to make sure you’re detailed oriented and not making critical mistakes. At Macy’s I worked the early shift that helped set up sales and coordinated placement of new merchandise. Every role in retail contributes to the overall successful of the company and doing your part is important.

Your Patience Will Be Tested

I have a few horror stories from customers trying to be too prying when it came to personal information about myself. I always reminded myself that my job wasn’t worth jabbing back at customers, but I also made sure to tell my manager if a customer was being especially out of line. This happened once with a man who started harassing me about speaking Chinese and would not stop even after I told him I don’t speak Chinese. I told my manager and never saw that man again. Another time, a customer paid their $70-something bill in all loose change. Boy, did I have fun counting all that. At the end of the day, your patience will be tried, but you just need to be the bigger person and let it roll off your shoulder unless it turns into harassment.