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Career Story: Gift And Toy Merchandiser For A "Big Box" Bookstore

Gift And Toy Merchandiser For A "Big Box" Bookstore

Job Title: Bookseller, Gift And Game Merchandiser

Type of Company: The company I work for is a national bookstore chain.

Education: BA, Public Relations, UMass-Amherst

Previous Experience: I worked in advertising as a media buyer for a number of advertising agencies when I first started my career. As a media buyer, I would frequently also handle the PR involved in new store openings for some of my retail clients. As the advertising business changed and the number of media jobs dwindled, I decided to pursue a career in a field I loved ... books! I started as a bookseller, and added merchandiser to my role. My previous PR experience has been valuable in helping me coordinate in-store promotions and execute planned merchandising strategies.

Job Tasks: I am a gift and toy merchandiser in a local bookstore; my store is part of a national retail bookstore chain. I am responsible for receiving merchandise which arrives daily in our store and for getting that merchandise out to the sales floor. I follow specific guidelines called 'planograms' for displaying merchandise, as well as creatively setting up some of my own feature displays. I set up planned merchandise promotions for various merchandise lines within my department; those promotions are planned by the Gift Division of the corporate office. Merchandising plans change daily and are accessed through the company computer system. A promotion for a specific product line or featured merchandise theme may last 3-6 weeks, depending on the specific product line or seasonality of the merchandise. Some plans that are executed may be for permanent 're-sets' of a given product line that will remain planned for 6 months to a year.

Merchandise that I'm responsible for includes some of the following: board games, travel games, toys, educational games, puzzles, fine stationery, home & office gifts, bookends, bookmarks, spinner kits, reading aids, writing tools, art supplies, journals, sketchbooks, photo & gift albums, juvenile gift product, picture frames, lap desks, calendars, etc.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that nothing is static. New merchandise arrives daily and rotating promotions among the various gift and toy lines changes constantly. I enjoy the challenge of merchandising and of creatively making room for new product which there's really no room for! I especially enjoy tackling specific tasks which are visually 'completed' at the end of the day. I also relish the freedom I have to complete my work independently and I enjoy the initiative I'm able to demonstrate by what I accomplish.

The worst part of my job is that I work for a 'box store' which allows for little involvement or flexibility on a local level and advancement opportunities are limited.

Job Tips: I would suggest being particularly assertive about cross-training in various areas of the store for which you work. Make your intentions for wanting to advance within the company known quickly, but back that up with a strong work ethic and creativity. Try various retailers and/or merchandising sales opportunities to see what you're best suited for. Always remember that the best managers at all levels are the ones who started on the sales floor.

Additional Thoughts: You should be willing to work nights and weekends if you at least plan to start as a merchandiser before moving into a potential 'corporate' position. Retailing is not a M-F 9-PM job.

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