Just because there are a lot of retail jobs out there, it doesn't mean that being a retail salesperson is easy -- or that people can be successful at the job right off the street, says Cindy Cassell,
conomic development manager for Neighbors in the Strip.
And merchants at the Pittsburgh Public Market
, which NITS operates, have been clamoring for good sales people, she says. So the Public Market will be opening The General Store soon as a booth dedicated to providing retail sales training to those on, or eligible for, unemployment or public assistance. Ideally, Cassell says, the one-year pilot program, funded by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, will give some of the trainees enough help to open their own Public Market booth.
"Retail is a very skilled position," Cassell says. "I've done it on and off for many years. Customer service is first and foremost: knowing your product, engaging the customer, finding out about the customer needs and trying to meet those needs. There's a very specific skill set for retail sales."
Each 12-week program, held three times a year beginning this September, will be "very small and very intensive," she says, taking four trainees each time through the entire process of opening a small retail business. That will include 11 weeks inside the General Store, learning to sell on the spot. The first classroom session will cover everything from inventory and money management to opening and closing procedures, while the hands-on sessions will involve learning to set up the booth, create signage and product displays, develop a work schedule and other important skills. Participants will receive a $1,500 stipend during the three-month training period.
Trainees will also help the Market gain insight into products customers are seeking, such as artisan breads, fresh pasta or custom trail mixes. With the training booth named The General Store, Cassell notes, " we're positioned to have a variety of products."
For an application, click here
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Cindy Cassell, Neighbors in the Strip