Confessions of a Former Store Manager

A real orchestra conductor, the store manager organizes and develops the shop’s business. Business strategy, stock supervision, personnel management and customer satisfaction are all on his shoulders. It is a very worthwhile job, but one that has heavy responsibilities that can be difficult to bear. Admissions of a former store manager.

Ghislain St-Amand began his career as a store manager before becoming an owner. “I have always been interested in the retail trade,” he says. “I started a bachelor’s degree in administration when I was given a chance.” First co-manager of a cinema, then of a neighbourhood video club, Ghislain St-Amand then started his own business. Today he is co-owner of L’Épicier du Centre-Ville at Saint-Hyacinthe. “If you are going to choose this job, you have to love it,” he says. “Of course, there are many good sides to it, but there are also disadvantages. It’s not easy every day and it requires sacrifices.”

Several hats

Managing a store requires a broad range of skills including finance, marketing, human resources, logistics and customer relations. “You have to touch everything,” says Ghislain St-Amand. “Every day there are problems to be solved, whether it’s a cash register breakdown, a product out of stock, or an absent employee. You have to create a good network for help in case of glitches… such as a plumber that can respond quickly.”

The variety of tasks makes it a very worthwhile profession. “I love meeting customers, which is essential in the store,” he says. “And there is constant challenge – it is the manager who is responsible for the success or failure of the shop. So you have to work hard to develop the store and get better results year after year. It’s an exciting job if you can give yourself the resources!”

Long hours of work

In a store, the days are often very long. “You have to be very available, because there is always a fire to be put out,” admits Ghislain St-Amand. “During the heat wave, for example, we had not anticipated the massive demand from customers for salads and sandwiches. It took some organizing to produce more and quickly refill the counters. This means having the raw material and the staff to cook them.” These are contingencies that force Ghislain St-Amand to work many extra hours. “I know when I  start my day, but I never know when it will end… It’s a way of life that demands a love for your profession, otherwise you become unhappy quickly.”

Being responsive, motivated, resourceful and loving people are the main qualities of a good store manager. It is a job full of challenges every day, but requires a great personal investment. “It’s not for everyone,” concludes Ghislain St-Amand. “You have to have passion and be ready to make sacrifices… ”

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