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How Much Money Can You Really Make Working Retail?

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If you've ever been a student or a clotheshorse or just preferred a schedule that lets you start at noon or later, then you've probably done some time working a retail job. But was it worth it? Brokelyn took a good, hard look at the starting wages (and employee discounts) of six major retailers—American Apparel, Victoria's Secret, Anthropologie, Abercrombie & Fitch, Brooklyn Industries, and Trader Joe's—to see what kind of cash these sales associates are actually pulling in.

The golden number appears to be $9. According to the post, American Apparel staffers start out at $9 to $10/hr, with a possibility to make an extra $100 a week in commission. Victoria's Secret workers and Abercrombie & Fitch "models" begin at minimum wage, and Anthropologie's employees start at around $9 to $11/hr. Brooklyn Industries also starts you at $9, as does Trader Joe's, but that can fluxuate up to $12 an hour. They also seem to have the best raise structure, since employees can get an extra two bucks hourly, per year (with a cap-off, of course).

The discount structure is all over the place once you factor in all of the different incentives, but the gist of it is this: American Apparel and Brooklyn Industries employees get 50% off—but Victoria's Secret is only 20% to 30% (that's about ten bucks off a bra). Anthropologie offers 40% on clothes and 25% on housewares, and, if you're full-time at Abercrombie, you can get 40% (part-timers get 30%). And Trader Joe's? All the organic veggies your heart could desire for 10% off.

Since there's no commission in any of these gigs (except American Apparel), if you're looking to make a little more money doing retail—or hey, even a career—higher-end stores are the way to go. For example, a stint at, say, Barneys, has a little more to offer. For Co-op employees (Madison Avenue is different) you start at $9.50 as a sales associate, which is pocket money compared to the commission rate of 3% tacked onto everything you sell. Find yourself a few big spenders, and you might never want to leave.
· Retail jobs: Starting Pay and Employee Discounts Revealed! [Brokelyn]