Powell's Books
3.1 of 5 16 reviews
www.powells.com Portland, OR 150 to 499 Employees

Powell's Books Reviews

Updated Apr 7, 2014

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3.1 16 reviews

                             

33% Approve of the CEO

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Emily Powell

(3 ratings)

43% of employees recommend this company to a friend
16 Employee Reviews
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Book lovers dream.

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Powell's Books part-time for more than a year

ProsKnowledgeable, fun staff.
Cool benefits to assist in your reading addiction.
Competitive salary.
Great store to work in and recognizable tourist attraction in Portland.

ConsHiring minimal full time staff, shifting more to part time workers w/ no benefits.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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A tragic state of affairs for a store that should be a landmark.

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Powell's Books for more than 5 years

ProsMany of the people one works with. They are often great people whom I will always be happy to know.

ConsA divisive and corporate management. For a self proclaimed 'indie' bookstore it is anything but.

Advice to Senior ManagementYour greatest asset is your workforce. For all the problems with the union, it exists for a reason. Look at the reasons *why* it exists and what led to its creation. The union shouldn't be necessary, but in a bookstore for gods sake it is. Good management works with people and employees. It does not create endless boundaries. Check out the business section some time for some good advice.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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My time here has been like my early twenties: fun, then I got older.

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Powell's Books full-time

ProsGreat benefits and discounts, opportunities to meet authors and change lives through book selling.

ConsUpper management is divorced from reality of day to day store operations and needs of employees. Rush to professionalize is alienating staff.

Advice to Senior ManagementYou can't hire intelligent, dynamic, hard-working people and expect them to stay if you treat them like robots. Hire kids out of high-school working their first job, or start recognizing the people that work for you are book people, and valuable.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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A Union for Booksellers Oh My

Generalist I (Current Employee)
Beaverton, OR

I have been working at Powell's Books part-time for less than a year

ProsTraining program is exceptional as of mid 2012. Management at my location in Beaverton are amazing. Powell's has a few great perks if your a bookworm 30% off New Books, Sidelines(gift type stuff toys etc.) & Powell's merchandise. 50% off all used books. Plus you never know what books, sidelines or more won't sell and you can take them home for free! They support and treat staff like family with BBQ's, a nice work environment and break area as well as just plan nice. Powell's is unionized so if you are for that then you should be pleased especially since they are now beginning negotiations for a new contract staring Feb 2013. They are pretty good about letting you get days off as well as working with you on making sure you are doing well in your position. Tons of benefits for you if your full time. Discounts to the Rose Garden and several other area companies including Regal theaters.

ConsUnion if you're not for that. i think the Union has caused management to not promote folks to Full Time. I think if they dropped the Union they would be able to develop a huge amount of employees who want to be there because they love Powell's not just there to get a guaranteed raise and never get fired for being lazy, & rude to customers and incredibly bad for the Powell's image. Very laid back and lenient on employees who have been with the company for a long time. I also think that the "free hours" where you are not actually assigned to be doing something should be more monitored. I think Powell's should consider dropping the Union start putting feelers out and I bet you would be able to find people who can and will do the jobs just as well as the current Unionized sheep that think the Union is helping us. I also think that if I don't want to be in the Union I shouldn't have to pay the dues or be covered by them. I wish I could step away from it and be looked at for how I do my job not because of some contract so that Powell's managers and corporate could actually create a rapport with employees instead of a old way of doing business that in this day and age is NOT needed.

Advice to Senior ManagementDrop the Union or negotiate so that employees can NOT join the Union and not be covered by the contract so that we as individuals and you as the owners and managers can decide who deserves to be where.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Good retail position for book lovers

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Powell's Books

ProsExcellent discounts (50% off used books, 30% off new)
Management is generally very respectful of their hourly workers, not condescending
Most of the customers are unusually friendly
Hourly pay is higher than minimum wage and will increase within a year usually

ConsDepending on the economy, job security is not very stable. A lot of regular workers and temps were laid off after 2008 during the recession. They are now offering more permanent positions since the economy has improved.
Non-management jobs are the first to be cut, naturally.
You may not get enough work hours to pay your bills, except during the busy holiday season and summer.
As with many retail store jobs, benefits are reserved for full time employees.

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Took them forever to get rid of horrible manager at Airport location.

Generalist II (Former Employee)
Portland, OR

I worked at Powell's Books full-time for more than a year

ProsThe Union and access to borrow from their system up to 30 books at a time.

ConsIt took everyone from our store to complain to the Union before HQ would listen. We also had an assistant manager that hired people who were ill-fitted to the job. One new hire didn't know how to use a computer and the other was caught smoking in the bathroom.

Advice to Senior ManagementGet with the program and treat your employees as intellectuals not minions.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Lackluster

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
Portland, OR

I have been working at Powell's Books

ProsIt's an excellent local company that has a real interest in Portland & its customers, but not so much the employees

Conslack of top down leadership

Advice to Senior ManagementThink about promoting those who deserve it even if experience might not be completely what you are looking for

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Fine

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
Portland, OR

I have been working at Powell's Books

ProsGreat benefits, including health care and vacation

ConsPoor pay, not room to move up

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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The prestige is hollow once you figure out they just want to be the next Barnes & Noble.

Bookseller (Former Employee)
Portland, OR

I worked at Powell's Books

ProsThe books are unparalleled, the coworkers have a strong camaraderie, the job is relatively easy, they offer a great benefits package, they have a strong union, and you don't have a ton of responsibilities.

ConsWorking with HR is a nightmare if you ever need to medical accommodations or to take a medical leave. The hoops they will put you through just to accommodate a simple medically-necessary request are so many as to leave you feeling ashamed and degraded. I needed a surgery, and on top of all the stress that created in my personal life, I had the additional stress of having to constantly facilitate communication between the management and my doctors. HR will threaten you with unpaid forced medical leave every week if they don't get whatever vague letter from your doctor they want; they will then force you to see their own doctor to independently verify your condition. I was a hard worker and when I needed Powell's the most, they made me feel unwanted, unappreciated, and barely human. The wages are poor and management is always trying to fire you or goad you into leaving, only to replace you with unskilled part-time temporary workers they don't have to pay benefits.

Advice to Senior ManagementI would seriously reconsider the big-corporation mentality. Coming from a locally-owned, supposedly independent, liberal business, it seems ridiculous. Consistently firing/laying off skilled workers only to hire twice as many part-time temporary unskilled workers never gains any community respect. Customers take notice when the customer service workers are untrained and can't answer basic questions about the books they are in charge of putting on the shelves. Finally, and possibly most importantly: Employee morale is actually important to thriving businesses.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Pretty much my slacker dream job.

Generalist II (Current Employee)
Portland, OR

I have been working at Powell's Books

ProsAwesome discounts, amazing coworkers, sweet benefits.

ConsWith e-readers becoming more & more popular, it looks like book stores will be obselete before long so there isn't much opportunity for growth/advancement with this company or this industry.

Advice to Senior ManagementI would like to see my store manager taking a bit more of a holistic view and perhaps learning to be a smidge more personable. She does try though, for sure.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Powell's Books reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Powell's Books CEO Emily Powell. All 16 reviews posted anonymously by Powell's Books employees.