First jobs: Alana

To continue our first jobs series, Alana tells us all about the joys of working at a specialty ski and outdoor apparel shop.

Other than babysitting for my neighbours, my first “real” job was in the retail industry when I was 15. I worked at The Sign of the Skier for three years, selling ski jackets, hats, gloves and accessories in the clothing department.

Every three weeks we were required to attend product knowledge meetings about the mechanics of how each jacket was made. I knew coats inside and out – literally. 

I could tell customers how waterproof, windproof, breathable and durable each coat was, and why. I was also taught the importance of layering, and which fabrics should be layered where. Not to mention advising on which gloves, hats, snow pants and long underwear were the best bang for your buck. 

I knew this Helly Hansen performance jacket intimately. 
It was always pretty fun to see the look of disbelief on customer’s faces after explaining the inner workings of a coat they were interested in. They couldn’t believe a kid could know that much information about one product.

The best part about working at The Sign was the fact that I worked with my mom, twin sister and two best friends. That’s not to say that we loved working after school, but it definitely made it much sweeter that we could work together. One of my all-time favourite memories was in the spring when we had no customers and things at the store slowed right down. My friends and I would play practical jokes on each other… until one went terribly wrong. 

It was kind of like this, only not as composed.  

We’d hide behind the racks of clothes and jump out to scare each other. One time, a friend and I were hiding in the pant rack when a customer came and started flipping through the pants. We froze and stayed silent, hoping he would go back downstairs. But he didn’t. 

He saw us hiding in the pants, looked at us weirdly, and walked away. I was too embarrassed to talk to him, so my friend dealt with the aftermath. My boss was not impressed. 

My first job was a good experience. It taught me the importance of happy customers, a good attitude, team work and many other qualities that have been paramount in my growing career.