Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Day in the Life...

After working on the retail sales floor and in the visuals department at Urban Outfitters for almost the entire duration of her education, Ai Dallas graduate, Sarah Greenhaw accepted a management-level position in Visuals in October 2008. She was part of the team to open the new Urban store in San Antonio, which is located in an upscale outdoor shopping center (similar to Northpark Center).

Sarah manages a visual team which includes a display artist and a merchandising team lead. Her team works Monday through Friday, 7 am to 3 pm, and Sarah works anywhere 6 am-5 pm on a typical day, depending on the tasks at hand. Sarah says, "It's a lot of hard work, and I have to do a lot of not-so-girly stuff, like drilling, painting and moving fixtures, along with all the fun, like changing forms and setting tables. But that's pretty typical for a merchandiser. I love it and am hoping to keep moving around the country to different stores whenever any opportunities come up."

Sarah provided a hour-by-hour recap of a typical day. Think it's GLAMOROUS to be in visuals? Here's A Day-in-the-Life of Visual Merchandiser, Sarah Greenhaw...
6:00 am: Wake up to alarm.
6:40 am: Head to nearest Starbucks for a Chai tea.
7:00 am: Arrive at the store, with my display artist, the receiver, and an opening manager. Climb up those three flights of stairs to the office, put in a couple mix cds so it’s not dead silent in the store before we open.
7:06 am: Go over closing notes and any emails from the previous day. Look over numbers from the previous week to see what sort of moves need to be made today in order to help sales.
7:30 am: Quick touch base with the display artist. Create a to-do list for him: update signage for downstairs walls indicating that men’s and housewares is located upstairs, put new logos in all windows, put a couple mirrors up on the women’s floor, peg out the back of a fixture in women’s for new shipment of fall tights, clean out his display room
7:45 am: Look on the URBN homepage for merchandising callouts or any new markdowns… nothing new today!
7:45 am: Quick walk of the windows, decide to update 5 forms with new merchandise and pull some sale apparel from the window.
9:06 am: Shipment arrives, receiver scans it all in and I begin helping him pull samples. 59 boxes today!
9:20 am: Take a quick granola bar break in the office with opening manager
9:30 am: Print out some shipment placement sheets, grab an RF gun and head downstairs with all the women’s samples for the day.
9:45 am: Before I can finish the placement sheet, it’s already time for morning meeting with the associates who have arrived for the day. Go over previous days numbers, plans for the day. I update everyone on the new promos that will be going up and find out the music requests for the day. Wrap up the meeting and I run upstairs and put in some upbeat music to set the tone for the day, must open the doors at 10 am!
10:07 am: Finish filling out the placement sheet, begin big moves! Lots of new fall styles coming in, separate everything out into the appropriate shops. Decide what will be hung, folded, laid flat, and write it all down on the placement sheet for the managers and associates.
11:00 am: Home office mail pack arrives, open it up and sort out new signage. Put each department managers things into their box and put the new music we received in for the day!
11:10 am: Touch base with manager on things I need to be completed. Spots that need to be filled with new shipment, new moves I’ve made. Show department team lead why I moved some old product around, in order to help numbers.
12:00 pm: Check on display artists’ status for the day. Make a paint color decision for him
12:07 pm: Lunch break, run across the street to the food court to grab some salad and a slice of cheese pizza with the opening manager. A vegetarian diet is hard to live by in a greasy, fast food ridden mall with not many options!
12:18 pm: Eat lunch in the office, near the computer. Go over new e-mails, respond as needed. Sort of a working lunch, since I never get a chance to sit in the office to look at computer stuff on a typical day.
12:50 pm: District merchandiser emails, learn about regional conference call at 2:00 pm our time.
1:10 pm: Head back out onto the floor and update 3 forms with new product. Anthropology calls from across the shopping center… they need to borrow some paper towels to get them through the week! I let them know I’ll run them over before I leave for the day (there’s a dress I’ve been eyeing, so it’s convenient.)
1:57 pm: Call into regional conference calls. Learn about plans for the week, key attributes for the company, new product knowledge.
2:35 pm: Check in with receiver on how much shipment is going out… only about 11 boxes left to be processed. Really good progress, should see a 24 hour turnover.
2:40 pm: First time upstairs in men’s department for the day, quick placement of their new samples. Write it all down on a placement sheet and leave direction for the men’s team lead, who will be coming in at 4 pm. Grab the drill from my desk and put up a couple of faceouts for new shirts.
3:02 pm: Go by display room, and let display artist know it’s time for him to leave for the day. Decide to put off mirrors until tomorrow.
3:08 pm: Head back downstairs with drill (just in case…) to check on everything, finish re-setting front entry table with new branded collaboration received in today’s shipment.
3:40 pm: Get the extension ladder out and update lifestyling on walls with new product. Pull down any recent markdowns. Get down and realize new dress on faceout needs to be moved up about two inches. Grab drill form cash wrap and move faceout. Check one more time, perfect!
3:52 pm: Grab all the pulled merchandise from forms and lifestyling, drop it off in the fitting room and apologize for ditching my mess! Put the shoes back in their appropriate boxes, which takes about 10 minutes longer than necessary since nothing is put back correctly from the weekend.
4:10 pm: Supposed to be off, but need to run to the bank with the opening manger to drop the deposit and go by the UPS store to get postcard stamps. Drop paper towels off at Anthro as well… and scope out the dress.
4: 54 pm: Run back into the store, grab my merchandising binder and purse. Didn’t get a chance to do the numbers for the week in store today, so need to do them at home in order to lead department walk-throughs tomorrow.
5:15 pm: Finally home… only about 30-40 minutes of paperwork to do from home tonight. Make dinner plans with my roommate, the men’s department manager at the store and head out.

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