This week’s blog edition is coming to you live from a dusty counter and a plastic step-stool in the middle of Tom’s Toys soon-to-be latest addition to its toy store chain. It always surprises me how many things I take for granted in any space I walk into. Like chairs. Or a duster.
I don’t tend to talk about Tom’s Toys much in my blog or my day-to-day life. Which is strange, because I spend 40-50 hours per week working there. For those of you who don’t know, Tom’s was my first job out of high school. I remember the day very clearly because I was scared out of my wits. I hated (and still, to a certain extent, hate) asking questions of strangers. Walking down Montrose Avenue on that hot June afternoon seven years ago asking every place that had a hiring sign in the window for a job application was one of the scariest things I had done in my life, right after taking my driving test. I picked up applications at a few places, restaurants and crafts stores that are no longer in business, before stopping in at the eclectic toy store I had been to many times for birthday gifts as a kid. I don’t remember much about the interview, but before I knew it I was working at the Tom’s Toys store in Beverly Hills, then graduated to working in the office as an assistant through college and finally graduating to where I am now–the self-named ‘Head of Business Development’ in charge of online stores, new locations and still, occasionally, picking up the boss’ dry cleaning. I’m the Pepper Potts of Tom’s Toys.
I think I rarely talk about my job because I’ve never thought that it was all that awesome. I thought I would work at Tom’s Toys wrapping gifts and stocking shelves for a few years and move on but I’ve been here seven years. I go to toy shows, I make phone calls, I write orders, I design gift cards and sell things on the internet. No big deal. I think I’ve always discounted my job because I’ve always dreamed that one day I would be doing something bigger and better. But really, what’s the point of writing off the biggest thing in your life because you one day hope it will be something grand? Isn’t it better to enjoy every day of what you’re doing now so that you will be practiced at enjoying life by the time your dream job comes true?
Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some pretty awesome things at Tom’s Toys. I’ve conducted my first solo job interviews. I’ve negotiated with vendors and landlords. I’ve hired people. I’ve been a vital part of setting up a brand new store. I’ve realized that people depend on me to make things happen, that my ideas will make or break a project. It may not be rocket science or Pulitzer-prize-winning work but it is definitely something to be proud of. In school, everyone always is asked what they want to be when they grow up and I think this is a very bad question to ask kids. There is a big difference between what job you would ideally like to have and what job will make you a ‘grown-up’. Tom’s Toys is not the job I would ideally like to have, but who knows when that job will happen–it could be two years down the road, it could be twenty. But working at Tom’s Toys has definitely, slowly but surely and against my will, turned me into a grown up. It has paid for my apartment in college, bought me my first car, and paid for my wedding. And out of all the types of retail stores to work for, working for a toy store is probably one of the most fun and rewarding jobs out there. I mean, who doesn’t like Legos?
I am very excited for the opening of our sixth store in Bel Air on June 30th. Whooohooo!