I have spent the vast majority of my working life in the retail industry. When I was 15, I started working at a local convenience store. From there, I moved on to a small local grocery chain that had about seven stores in the area. I worked for them for about 5 years when I landed a job at one of the major supermarkets in the area, thus doubling my hourly wage. Unfortunately, that position only lasted two months before the chain decided to pull out of the DC market.
After I lost my job at that chain, I was unemployed for about two months until I landed a job in the Safeway chain. At that time, no frills warehouse stores where you bag your own groceries were popular. I started with Safeway with their version called Food Barn, After I graduated college, I moved from the store side of the business to the backstage side in the local division buying office. I spent 21 years at Safeway before the company decided to centralize the buying function to their corporate offices in California.
That was the start of a rather tough period in my life. It took almost a year to find a solid full time position that would pay the bills on a regular basis. We thankfully made it through that tough time, but it was definitely a struggle. We didn't have a lot of money in the bank, and unemployment didn't come close to covering our expenses. I had a severance package for a few months, but after it ran out, I went through whatever retirement savings I had in my 401k with Safeway.
It was during this one year period that I tried a failed attempt to work in sales. I really floundered as a salesman. A lot of what I did was cold telemarketing. It was brutal. Most of my calls were calling numbers out of the phone book. It wasn't very productive. I might have had a little more success if I had of had access to a service like List Giant. They provide targeted lists to sales and marketing folks for the purpose direct mail and telemarketing. With a more focused and targeted list of potential customers, I might have been more successful in sales.
After that, I moved on to a company that did the category management function in the stationary category for grocery chains in different parts of the company. Unfortunately, it looked like that company wasn't going to be around for long, so I left there after a couple years when I landed a job as a buyer for a company that sold products to property management firms for apartment rehabs. I stayed there for another two years before I finally got back to what I knew best.
For the last six years, I have been back in the retail world and it is the happiest I have been since my Safeway days. It is also the longest tenure of a company that I have been with besides the 21 years at Safeway. The company I work with now has retail stores in airports across the country. I started off as the candy and snack buyer until we decided to put in a software package to do our store planograms. For those that don't know, a planogram is a diagram of where to put product in the store. I volunteered to head up that initiative for the company and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.