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Retailing – The Absolute Vocation

shopping, retail, emporium, centreRetailing. You either love it or you despise it. With equal intensity and all for the same reasons.

It can be an unforgiving habitat if you are without the temperament to embrace change or a disposition to juggle simultaneous tasks at any given time. For those who persevere, the dividends are not just extraordinary, but unparalleled. The intimate rewards are difficult to quantify let alone convey to the uninitiated.

  • An absolute vocation of life-long friends and contacts: A camaraderie of like-minded people hailing from a holistic diversity of backgrounds and cultures. An entrepreneurial propensity encompassing the widest of professions and disciplines that few encounter over a lifetime. Boredom and monotony are not part of the vocabulary in a stimulating professional milieu where no two hours are ever the same.
  • A dexterity of skills sought and welcomed the world over: My post on Retail’s Diminishing Talent talks about a deepening crisis of retail expertise created by shortsightedness  and delusional fast-track management programmes. For time immemorial experienced retailers have been in high demand and this is expected to climb inline with other ‘blue collar’ trades as more of the general public are seduced by the comforts of the technology industry. Desk job?…Screen job?…comme ci comme ça.
  • There is the unprecedented worldliness toward personal advancement: Besides the usual professional developments you would expect from industry there is also a life changing enlightenment of oneself. Priority, integrity, social awareness, inclusion and social achievement to name but a few.
  • A fascinating insight into individuals, communities and behaviours: Developing an appreciation beyond the confines of your comfort zone and the consequence you impart onto others. All retail, whether by design or incompetence has a profound impact on humanity and the environment and where you decide to ply your trade is a reflection of yourself.
  •  It provides an exciting climate that demands creativity and resourcefulness: This should be every worthy merchants gem. The freedom of ingenuity and boldness through the mentoring of the individual before the collective. The self-development of personal brands within the corporate imprint with an understanding that both are crucial.

To the unenlightened there is a perception of mundane chaos, hard work and long unsociable hours. Often spread by those who lack the savvy to transform this career into a lifelong vocation. Be circumspect when seeking desirable opportunities – employee feedback, sustainability and environmental virtue. The more you identify with the better the fit.

It is not for the weak-willed, but it does include the entire spectrum of humankind. There is only one way to find out how you will fare. Find the retailer that appeals to you, clear your mind of preconception, remove the rose-coloured glasses and prepare to start at ground level. Jump in boots and all.

It is the absolute vocation.

Dave Farrell is a retailer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at

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