Toys R Us Is Hiring: What's It Really Like To Work There?
Same-store sales have been slipping for three of the last four years at Toys R Us, the country's last big box toy store. Walmart and Amazon have been chipping away at the chain's bottom line, while more and more kids are ditching game consoles for online adventure play. But Toys R Us is still gearing up to hire thousands of grownups as that time of year nears when we spoil the heck out of our children.
Toys R Us Inc. is currently hiring finance, merchandising and e-commerce positions at its corporate headquarters in Wayne, N.J., according to spokeswoman Jennifer Albano. There are also many, many more positions in the offing at Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores, and distribution centers nationwide, especially when the weather starts to cool and gift-buying heats up.
Toys R Us may not be as aggressive in its fall hiring as it has been in past years. In 2010, Toys R Us opened 600 pop-up shops for Christmastime, adding 10,000 jobs on top of the usual seasonal swelling. But disappointing sales numbers led to "hangover costs" that the chain is still stomaching, an analyst at Moody's told The New York Times. Since 2010, Toys R Us has opened 15 "Outlet" stores, and the company needs manpower to prowl those approximately 5,000-foot spreads.
Toys R Us enjoyed a brief upswing after it was bought by two private equity firms, one of them Bain Capital, and a real estate developer in 2005. But the last couple years have been gloomier. Domestic sales last year in fact dipped below what they were in 2008. Toys R Us is still hoping, however, that Americans won't fully defect on the giant toy-store experience. And online business is booming, Albano points out, growing 28 percent last year and 30 percent the year before.
A cashier at Toys R Us earns slightly less an hour than a cashier at Walmart, according to Glassdoor.com ($8.03 to $8.63). A Toys R Us sales associate takes home the slightly higher hourly wage of $8.14, and if you climb the ranks to department supervisor you can expect a raise to $11.92 an hour. If you land a store manager job, your average annual salary is a handsome $69,997 a year.
Toys R Us offers "a competitive employee benefits program," Albano wrote over email, which includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, as well as a generous 401(k) match.
The wages at the bottom rung may not be lavish, but the hours are flexible, according to several of those writing on Glassdoor.com who identify themselves as Toys R Us employees. That flexibility makes it a great part-time gig for high school and college students. Supervisors are also reportedly pretty lax if you call up saying that you can't/won't/don't want to come in that day.
But that means people sometimes just don't show up, according to a handful of employees on Glassdoor.com. And if you do, you have to pick up the slack. That's one of several stresses that may await you on the floor of Toys R Us. Sales associates and cashiers complain that you're forced to ask every customer a litany of questions: Do you want this reward or that reward? A membership? A Toys R Us credit card?
Several employees said the stores are often desperately understaffed. "Expected to work miracles with no people," wrote a Glassdoor.com reviewer who was identified as a department supervisor in Minneapolis. "Very political company."
And like most retail jobs, managers can be your best buds or your sworn enemies. "The managers tend to let you argue with a customer over something for a very long time before swooping in and 'white knighting,' " complains a cashier in Austin, Tex., "giving the customer what they want while you look like a jerk for following the rules."
Lack of training and opportunities for growth were also points of criticism for some employees. But Albano doesn't take that view. "With the variety of positions we have across the country," she claims, "candidates have countless opportunities for career development." Toys R Us, she also notes, will match an employee's charitable donation that meets "certain criteria."
But there's one thing that really sets a job at Toys R Us apart from most other retail gigs. "You get to work with kids and moms all day," said one employee in Waco, Tex. "There isn't an easier job in the world than selling toys to kids."
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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