Work in a Small Shop or Big Box?

To work as a sales clerk in a small shop or within a large chain? That’s the dilemma many job seekers have who want to venture into the vast world of the retail trade. But they both have their advantages.

Élise Gilbert now works as a manager at Dr Martens, a small shoe store located in the heart of downtown Montreal. Before carving out a place for herself, she worked for a big international shoe brand. In her eyes, working in a smaller shop, with much smaller financial resources, does not represent a regression… quite the contrary! She can now fully develop her independence, creativity and sense of leadership.

However, she says she would not be where she is today if she had not worked in a big chain in the past. “The experience was very educational,” she says. “You are under pressure, you have training, you are in contact with a wide variety of customers and management really leads you to surpass yourself.”

It’s in addition to the salary, which becomes very appealing with the commissions. “Since it’s a well known brand of shoes, I did not have to convince customers about the product’s quality. The sales were much easier,” says the Dr Martens manager.

Work in a small shop or big box? A question of personality

Paradoxically, it was this pressure that led her to resign. Working for a big brand certainly brought her a sense of pride and prestige that she valued, but it also gave her the impression of “just being a number”. “You are offered trips and opportunities for advancement,” she explains, “but the sales objectives are raised as you progress. Even though the quotas are achievable, the numbers end up taking over everything else… “

Élise Gilbert still believes that candidates who thrive on challenges, pressure and ambition will surely find happiness there. For the others, she believes that large companies are a kind of required passage that lets you find your way in the retail industry. “When I joined Dr Martens, my bosses were amazed. They had nothing negative to say, because I had been trained very rigorously,” the manager says, who is now rising in the company thanks to her personality, her interpersonal skills and the many ideas she can put into practise. 

Thus, to resolve the dilemma between small shops and big box stores, just take your personality into account.

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