One of the things I love about my life is that I have had some cool jobs. Each of them has helped push my career forward in some way, usually by helping me develop some important character traits.
Recently, I found out that one of those cool jobs was closing its doors after 18 years. They officially closed last week, but I’ve been reminiscing for the past month. I was lucky enough to work at Scrapbooks, Etc.for the two years I was working on my Associates degree. I learned so much there and had a blast. Loved that place. When people asked if I liked working there, I’d usually respond that it was like working at a slumber party. It was such a unique place that I thought I’d give it a goodbye tribute and explain some of the great things I learned there, that inspired me, and that shaped my life.
I worked for and with women. Etc. is the only place I have worked that was owned by a woman and fully staffed by women. It was pretty cool to go into the office and see several women working away and running the show at a successful store. It went through a lot of growth and I definitely noticed the owner’s high level of business acumen. It caused me to wonder what I was passionate about and what I could accomplish.
It transcended the generation gap. I was 18 when I started working there. The youngest employee was 16 and the oldest was probably in her 60’s. The customers ranged from kids to great-grandma’s. Some shifts there were only teenagers working and on others I would work late with someone 30 years older than me. It really helped me to see things from different perspectives and I loved hearing insights from older perspectives. In my career thus far, I have been able to work with people in their teenage years all the way to people in their 90’s.
I learned to have my employees’ back. One night a regular customer was being super rude to one of the other girls. I’m pretty defensive of my friends when someone is being a jerk. I’m fuzzy on the details now, but I sassed her enough to let her know that I didn’t appreciate it. The next day my manager pulled me aside and said the lady had called in that morning and demanded an apology from the store and me. I was ready to assert that wasn’t happening, when she said, “I told her I’d talk to you, but it would not be appropriate for me to have you apologize to her. Just try to be polite to her when she comes in next.” It must be hard to balance running a customer-focused business and standing up for your employees (especially when they’re mouthy teenagers), but her example showed me that it’s possible. I have always tried to do right by my employees when I’ve been in management positions. Oh, and I’m a lot less mouthy now. Usually. At least at work.
I made friends in all walks of life. Before working there, I never knew that paper crafting could unite all women. I say that jokingly, but it’s kinda true too. There were rich people who’d come in and spend hundreds of dollars on paper, people using 20% coupons on a single sheet of paper, women coming from Scottsdale, women coming from Apache Junction (if you’re from Phoenix then you know the stereotypes), stay-at-home moms, childless engineers, tons of conservative ladies, and occasionally my very tattooed and pierced lifelong friend would come in. Even with all the differences, everyone helped each other, gave ideas, and had a good time. I learned that if people can come together over paper products, then I can work with anyone.
I learned that my job can be more than monetary fulfillment. Yes, I needed the money to pay rent, but I truly enjoyed going to work. Not because I’m a big scrapbooker (I’m not), but mostly because I can’t say enough about the people I worked with there. There were women there who were like mentors to me and who I aspired to be like in different ways. There were a lot of laughs, tears and dance moves that helped me see that work can develop my career skills and me as a person.
It was about 10 years ago that I first started there as a Freshman needing a 2nd job so I could pay my rent. A lot of learning happened between 18 and 20 years old, and I think of Scrapbooks, Etc. when I look back at that time. Thanks Marti for having such a great store that taught me so much! Mesa won’t be the same without you!