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Career Story: Retail Buyer For A Chain Of Gift Shops

Retail Buyer For A Chain Of Gift Shops

Job Title: Retail Buyer

Education: Certificate, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, 916 Vo-Tech Institute •• BA, Business, Regents College, University of the State of New York

Previous Experience: As a teen-ager, I started work as a clerk in a clothing store. After that, I held several positions in the Navy Exchange & AAFES, including Procurement Clerk, Visual Merchandiser, & Retail Store Supervisor. I then worked for the Army Commissary System as a Merchandise Management Specialist, eventually working my way up to Merchandise Manager, overseeing 22 stores.

Job Tasks: My company has a chain of specialty gift shops, predominately in airports. We have patriotic-themed gifts, as well as regionally-themed items, geared mostly to visiting tourists.

My job as the retail buyer for the company, includes a wide variety of tasks. I place orders for all of the merchandise, some of which is shipped directly to our warehouse & some which is shipped directly to the stores. I negotiate prices & review all potential new items for our stores. We have many items which are unique to our company & we develop our own designs for many of our products. This can be very fun, as you get to see your ideas on a product & it's even better if it sells well. I travel to gift shows/markets about five times a year to see new products & meet with current & new vendors. Occasionally, vendors come to our corporate office to show their new products.

I also am responsible for the inventory control in the company & participate in store inventories, as well as maintaining inventory data in our master computer system. I help to ensure that our stores are following proper inventory management practices & sometimes develop new procedures, if needed. I also interact with store managers, on a regular basis, to assist them in inventory management, to move slow-selling product, or to ensure they have enough on hand of products that are selling very well.

I participate in setting up the merchandise for a new store opening also, or to rearrange the merchandise in an existing store to help improve sales.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is interacting with a variety of different people. When you deal repetitively with sales representatives from different companies, you get to know them very well & you develop a friendly relationship with them. Also, our company focuses on working as a team, so we work closely together developing ideas & we have fun doing it.

The worst part of my job are people that call on a busy day & start launching into the history of the "wonderful" product they think they have, without bothering to ask if I have time to talk to them.

Job Tips:
1. The best thing I've done in my working life has been to always pursue new job opportunites to improve my position & my experience. I've worked a lot of different retail jobs & the cumulative experience helped me more than once to get a job I was interviewing for.

2. Be willing to work outside your job description. When someone from another department within the company asks for your assistance, don't say "It's not my job". Help them & you may learn something that could lead to a new job or even a promotion.

3. Ask for more responsibility. You need to learn how to make decisions & by taking more responsibilty in your job, you can learn by doing, including by making mistakes.

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