Why Retail?

Can anyone in the same industry honestly say that he or she loves retail or anything pertaining to customer service?

Didn’t think so. Maybe a small percentage, but even those that claim to love it must have hated it at some point in their careers.

I ask myself the same questions:

Why Retail?
How do I get out?
What did I get myself into?

Nine years ago it would have been a simple answer: It was only a part time job to get me through college.

I had it all planned out:

Major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Graduate with honors.

Apply for an internship that’s directly related to my major.

However, no matter how you plan things out, the universe somehow continues to make that 360 degree turn. Life happens.

Being kicked out of the house (by the same “so-called” family that promised my parents that they will care for me and my sister) was the defining moment that I had to do something. My sister and I just moved from the Philippines, leaving our friends and fabulous lives behind because my father wanted to ensure that we had a better future in the United States. He sacrificed his opportunity to move the first time because he wanted his whole family to be petitioned. However, plans continued to change and my sister and I had to stay with my father’s family while my parents had to stay in the Philippines to take care of my brother.

All I can say is, the only thing that I learned during that time period while living with them is that family does not always come in the form of blood relatives. But more on that later.

Anyway, to cut the story short and without having to re-hash any more drama, I ended up having one uncle who took my side and I will be forever thankful to him and his wife for taking me in. However, I did not want to take full advantage of my stay because he also had his own family to take care of.

I was still a full time college student at that time. I was deeply worried that financial aid was not going to be enough if I will have to start living on my own. I had to do something now and it had to be fast. I had to start earning more money. I had to be more independent. I had to grow up.

I passed up many opportunities and offers for a management position before because I did not see myself being a retail manager. Besides, my excuse every time they attempted is that I had school to focus on. I did not have to worry about bills or rent. I was not attracted to the pay or benefits because I did not really need it.

I was working at a shoe store and my store manager (now one of my closest friends) offered me a key holder position. However, I had to dedicate 44 hours a week.  This means that I had to adjust my school schedule from 4 days a week to 2 days a week. This meant that I had to take classes that were offered either on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 am until 8 pm with 10 minute gaps in between. The remaining days of the week I was working 9-10 hour days. Classes being cancelled were very sacred to me because it was my only opportunity to rest. Every college student have experienced the indescribable feeling of seeing that “class cancelled” flyer on the classroom door.

I was not thrilled with this setup. Who would be? I wanted the full college experience without any reservations! Maybe join a club, in order to gain that sense of belonging. To gain a circle of friends in the lifetime that I can call “family” just like the ones that I had back in my hometown.

However, I did not have that opportunity as I was always in a time constraint since I was working AND going to school full time.

With all the factors are laid out to me at that time, I had to embrace the talent that I developed in retail over the years and use it to my advantage in order to live. I did not have any other experience other than retail/sales/customer service. I was already being offered the promotion. It was good money. It was money that will help me buy my ridiculously expensive textbooks that I ended up not needing half the time. It was gas money to take me to and from work/school.

My main goal in life at that time was clear: to graduate college. However, it was not that simple anymore. I had to lay out my options and utilize my resources.

So why retail? At that time, it was my only option.