by Alexa DePerro
When asked if I preferred working at a large, corporate owned retail store versus a small, sole-proprietor owned boutique, I genuinely never have an answer. Though they are both retail stores, they are two completely different learning experiences which I both love and further my interest and passion for the fashion industry.
- Customer Relationships
Developing relationships with customers is a lot easier at a smaller boutique than a corporate retail store. This is primarily due to the fact there are a lot less ‘browsers’ just visiting a small boutique than a nation-wide known store. This makes it more of a challenge (that I’m always up for!) to establish a well-known relationship with a returning customer at my corporate retail job.
2. Direct Impact
Because a small boutique is obviously much more scaled down in terms of volume, your impact on customers and the store’s overall success is a lot more personal. It is a lot easier to calculate your success and really feel the your personal impact on the business.
3. Take Aways
Though retail is retail, you learn so many different things in the different retail environments. Working a corporate retail store has taught me more managerial, inventory, merchandising and sales skills whereas working a small boutique has taught me the smaller in and outs of buying, branding and entrepreneurship. All are which important aspects to know and understand. Ever wonder why a boutique has to have a certain markup on their cost price? Work at one and you’ll realize that every little thing costs money: electricity, air/heat, employees, rent (especially in Rittenhouse), freight, travel expenses to trade shows and your own personal time.
Overall, working for both a large retail store and a small store has made me into a more well-rounded employee for both employers. I love being able to take skills I learned at one job and apply it to the other. Being able to experience two different retail settings has really broadened my knowledge of the industry and I definitely recommend it to everyone to work both at least once! It is truly eye opening.