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I have been working at Books-A-Million part-time (more than 3 years)Pros
I absolutely love my co-workers and the management team. Pay is competitive with other retail companies, with additional incentives that other places do not provide. Promotions for specialist positions have been exclusively internal under the current management, and several booksellers have been promoted to management positions as well. It certainly appears to be a priority to promote from within.
Management is completely understanding and willing to work with each associate so that their needs are met. However, you are expected to show up regularly and actually work your shifts. There is not a task I perform in the store that management hasn't been willing to help me with. The managers run registers, answer phones, shelve books, do customer service. Most of my co-workers hold themselves to high standards and are willing to help locate a book or help offer suggestions in genres that they are more familiar with than I am.
Unlike other stores of this size, employees are expected to have detailed product knowledge and provide personalized customer service. You really need to read and know about books. If you can't recommend a book to a customer who just read a certain author, or a particular book, you might find it hard working here. In fact, you might feel stupid and belittled. If you arrive with a superior know-it-all attitude because you've worked part-time for 6 months at Target/Walmart/Best Buy on evenings and weekends while you go to college and live with your mom, you probably won't do so well here. However, if you are willing to learn and ask for help and make an effort to become familiar with the product, you will do fine. BAM requires a bit more intelligence than your run-of-the-mill retail job. You should know who wrote Slaughterhouse Five and Jane Eyre. You should know which book won the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal this year. You should be able to recommend at least a few books in several genres, or be willing to ask a co-worker for recommendations (for example, teen fiction is not my thing, but I have a few go-to coworkers who I can ask for help). Take the time and you'll like it here.Cons
Hey, look. All retail establishments offer discount programs or store credit cards. It's the nature of the game. No bookstore operating a retail space can stay in business simply by selling books at list price. We are competing with online retailers offering steep discounts out of massive cheaper-to-run warehouses. We need to develop a relationship with our customers to get them coming back to us, and only us. One way to do this is to offer membership card benefits. Selling the card is part of the job, and this is openly disclosed during the interview process. Just as it is the associate's job to sell the card, it is the manager's job to help encourage the associates to sell the card. I have a sneaking suspicion that the current management team actually shields the employees from a lot of the pressure they themselves are getting about sales and discount cards. I have never heard an employee be mistreated because of card sales. Employees who are struggling are offered guidance sessions with successful associates and managers are always willing to give tips.Advice to ManagementAdvice
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