RealJobs: Terence To

Whenever someone asks what I do for work and I answer that I’m an assistant buyer for Macy’s, I almost always receive one of two reactions.  Usually, I get a smile and an enthusiastic nod of acknowledgement as if they completely understand what that means.  However, sometimes I’ll get this puzzled look of bewilderment as if I have three heads and I’ve just spoken to them in a foreign language.  The funny thing is that regardless of whether the person falls in the first or second group, their initial reaction is often followed by the same question: “That’s cool…what is that?”  I guess retail buying just isn’t one of those professions that conjures up an immediate image of what it is when someone says that’s what they do.  Teacher.  Accountant.  Lawyer.  Sure.  Assistant buyer…eh, not so much.

In a nutshell, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  We buy the things that you buy (and then put them in our stores so that they’re there for you to buy them).  Now, admittedly that’s a layman’s job description and thus a little abstract.  In a little bit greater detail, as an assistant buyer in the men’s tailored clothing division at Macy’s, I work as part of a merchant team alongside my buyer and my associate buyer.  Together with our counterparts on the planning side, we collaborate to build a compelling product assortment, allocate the right styles, sizes, and quantities to each store location, and price and market our merchandise correctly in order to maximize sales.  Although like any job, there are certain things that become a part of your daily or weekly routine, one of my favorite things about my job is that there really isn’t a “typical” day.  Every day brings with it its own unique set of challenges, which helps keep me engaged and passionate.  Over the course of this next week, I hope to share some of these with you as I walk you through my core responsibilities as an assistant buyer.


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