Restaurant vs. Retail

A big part of the journey through high school includes turning 16 and getting one’s driver’s license. This also means that teens have the ability to get a job and start making more money than they had before. However, the big question is after teens decide to get a job is where.

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A lot of students already have experience in jobs with both food and retail. Junior Jack Wander had previously worked at a pizza place and was able to give some advice.

“I used to work at Taranto’s Pizza. I worked there for about six months and got about 12 hours a week”, Wander said.

The first major difference between restaurant and retail is the number of hours teens work weekly.

Based on if it’s around a holiday or busy shopping season, retail tends to have a lot more hours during certain times (like holidays) than working with food. Junior Ben Saunders is currently working in retail at Polaris Mall.

“I work at JCPenney. I work around 10 hours a week, but around Black Friday and Christmas I was working upwards of 25 to 30 hours a week, also given that I was on break from school”, Saunders said.

Another main difference is the product being sold itself.

Food can be messy and also leave a smell on clothes at times. Meanwhile, retail employees could be stuck folding piles upon piles of clothes inside of a retail store that many customers mess up again moments later.

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“I work retail because I really don’t like being around food”, Saunders said.

One obvious thing restaurant and retail jobs have in common is they’re both jobs that have to do with attending to someone’s wants or needs.

Also, at entry level jobs in these fields pay around the same amount. Most places pay 16- year-olds minimum wage ($8.10 per hour) but also can easily hover somewhere around the $9 per hour mark.

“Even though I don’t enjoy food, I don’t think any type of first job is going to be too much worse than another. It’s all up to preference”, Saunders said. Whether a first job is in a restaurant or retail, it’s clear that there is no definite better choice.

It varies person to person, and money is still money no matter where one makes it at.

“Both restaurant and retail share the same idea of serving the customer. So at the basic level, they’re very similar and nobody should freak out if they don’t get the exact job they want”, Saunders said.


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