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Retail merchandising embraces department stores, chain stores, and independent specialty shops, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc. This article will consider opportunities for college graduates in department store merchandising. Chain store work will be discussed next week.
Department store work is only for those college men who possess an abundance of nervous and physical energy, who work well under high pressure, who thrive on detail work, who are good bargainers, and finally who are relatively insensible to rebuffs.
A good many college graduates are employed in the early fall each year for training in department store work. The training involves working in the stock room pricing goods, selling over the counter on the floor, arranging counter displays, and learning the mechanics of store operation.
A trainee's first responsible assignment is likely to be as section manager, which means supervising a group of sales clerks as a sort of foreman. The term floorwalker applies.
His next step is that of Assistant Buyer for a single department, i.e., drugs, men's shirts, toys, etc. Here he learns about buying merchandise, price mark-ups and mark-downs, and is initiated into the mystery of style trends and the actual bargaining which is merchandising. A man who has achieved the rank of Assistant Buyer may reasonably expect to become a Department Buyer some day.
As a Buyer he is really a department manager, operating a store within a store, buying goods from manufacturers and jobbers and directing sales, but he is supervised by a Merchandise Manager who is responsible for several departments. A General Merchandise Manager is usually the department store's operating head and from him emanate the store's policies of buying and selling. In a large department store there may be from 50 to 200 Buyers and from 5 to 20 Merchandise Managers.
The hours of department store activity are long, the work confluing. It is a business where added responsibility means more work and longer hours. The turnover of employees is large and many department store people feel that forty is the deadline on age: beyond that the pace is too fast.
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