Want To Work In Small Format Stores? Read This First!

With the steady rise of e-commerce, you might think that physical retailing is dying. In contrast, far from death, it is evolving. These four years have witnessed a shift in retail powerhouses’  brick-and-mortar strategies as they are shrinking their sizes to small format stores. For that, if you want to work in the retail market, why not start from a position here? We are here to share everything you need to know about becoming a small format team member.

First, here are some fun facts. 

What Is A Small Format Store? 

A small format store is operated in small size and belongs to a large retail chain. It aims to optimize the cost for retailers and customize services for a specific neighborhood, mostly located in dense urban/suburban areas, college campuses.  For example, if the store is located in a college town, retailers prioritize stocking stationery and fast-food products. Besides, fewer brick-and-mortar footprints mean less rental cost and employees to pay. 

Some of the retail powerhouses pioneering this new retail innovation are Target, Sephora, Whole Foods, and Kohls. Around 2020, Target corporation opened its 100th small format store. 

What Is A Small Format Store?

Target opened its 100th small format store. Source: The Business Journals

Are you thinking of working a retail job in this new-format shop? Here are a few options to consider: 

Small Format Team Member Positions

Less space means fewer employees. You are expected to be somehow like a general athlete who can work in all store areas. Since each small format store has its demographic targets, recruiters might have additional job requirements for you. 

However, here we give you a brief description of two main roles:

Small Format Team Member

Your first requirement is to execute adjacency changes, revisions, and sales plans for all departments. Just like working in a typical supermarket, you are expected to be good at cashiering, stocking, presentation, and price accuracy. Lastly, providing exceptional service to customers is a must, as you will frequently interact with local people in a small neighborhood.  

Small format team member average salary: $16/hour

Working in this position can provide you with fundamental knowledge and experience of guest services and retail business such as sale trends, inventory management, pricing strategies, etc. Especially with young people, they can learn about the importance of teamwork – a small format team’s core value.

Gradually, it helps to determine what will suit their personality. Some might discover that a sales career is their call; others might prefer the business’s customer service side.

Small Format Team Positions

Small format team members provide good service for guests. Source: Pexel 

However, you should bear in mind that this job requires good physical and mental health to some extent. You might climb up and down ladders a lot and need to manage stress when dealing with guest problems. 

Small Format Team Leader

Like a typical retail manager, you provide the general management to all areas of the building to respond to guest or team member issues. You should be good at targeting sale goals, making plans, following sales stats, and making adjustments if needed. Besides, you need to manage the team and make sure they perform their tasks well. 

Since the small format store is curated based on the local guests’ needs, it is your responsibility to constantly learn about their daily demands, thereby coming up with good annual plans. 

For example: If you learn that your store is located in a Spanish community, you can localize your store by adding Spanish to your signs. 

Or if your neighborhood is full of kids, arranging many toys on the shelves is probably a smart strategy. 

Small format team leader salary: $44,361 – $47,819/yr

Small Format Team Leader

Small format Team Leader. Source: Training Express

With the growth of small-format stores, working in this place can allow you to earn experience as a retail manager if you want to work way up. 

You will gain more knowledge in managing a retail business, leading effective teams, and learning about guest behaviors and guest service. 

How To Lead Effectively? 

A small format team leader or a retail manager has to wear multiple hats at the same time. From effectively running the store, to managing employees, and enforcing policies. We know that is a tough position.

As a manager, sometimes you look at others leaders’ mistakes and wonder “which of the following must be avoided if one wants to create and maintain an effective team”.We want to stress these main four keywords; hopefully, they will help you to lead much better: 

How To Lead Effectively?

How to lead a small format team effectively. Source: Unsplash 

Hiring The Right People

Most problems are human problems. To avoid any unexpected troubles, especially those related to guest service and cashiering, make sure you thoroughly evaluate the applicants’ attitudes and working abilities. Then give the proper feedback or training sessions if you let them join the team. 


 The best leaders empower their members and leaders of other major functions to take a proactive role in the store’s success and plan strategies together. To do that, you should communicate with your co-workers with clarity and respect. For example: have a clear leadership team meeting agenda, establish clear goals and expectations for the team and commit to the given targets. 


Make sure your team members feel safe, valued and remain healthy when they work in your store. Having an ethical conduct culture is essential: no sexual assault, violence, abuse, politics, racism and following ethical business practices.


Everybody loves to work in an environment where they can learn and grow. Therefore, you should provide the team members with lots of training sessions. Make sure they know the fundamental knowledge of guess service, price accuracy, and stock management. If they make mistakes, a good manager will try to help them learn the lesson with patience, respect, and compassion. 

How To Secure A Job In The Small Format Store?

One small format store has only a few employees, however, recruiters receive a large number of online applications,  they can be super picky. For example, Target Corp (ask everybody!). If you are new to applying to a retail job, or jobs in general, grab these few tips for more confidence: 

How To Secure A Job In The Small Format Store?

How to secure a job in the small format store. Source: Unsplash 

Research, Research, Research (And If You Haven’t, You Should!)

Yes, we repeat this three times, but it never seems enough. Research is the critical point to success in any job application process. It is crucial that you know the company you want to work for.  

For example, if you want to apply for Target, knowing its motto: “To help all families discover the joy of everyday life,” and express your pleasure to provide the best service for guests can impress the recruiters. 

An Application Might Not Be Enough

Most people apply online, and the hiring process typically takes a few weeks, then chill and wait. However, a second step you should do is maintain contact with your interviewers through email and phone—the challenge is to make sure you seriously want to join the team. 

Promoting Values In The Community

Nowadays, many retail chains are committing to corporate and social responsibility. When their stores are located within small communities, they want to be the locals’ best friends. Therefore, recruiters will probably look for employees who are willing to create a bond with guests and love to learn their daily needs. Cooperative and respectful attitudes are other virtues that recruiters seek in their potential team members. 

Promoting Values In The Community

Creating a bond with guests. Source: Interstate Cash Register 

Use The Star Method To Answer Interview Questions To Turning Into A Small Format Team Member

Get an interview? Hurray, you should start practicing some popular questions that retail recruiters will ask you right now. A few questions we recommend:

  • Why are you applying to work here?
  • Experience-questions like: What type of retail stores have you worked for?
  • Situation-questions like: How would you handle a grumpy customer? a broken cashier machine? 
  • Customer service questions like: What is customer service to you?

Yes, some of the questions might panic you at first glance; however, with the STAR answer format we provide you here, you will answer with more confidence: 

  • Situation: Quickly describe the event or situation that you might be in. For example, I was a cashier in a WholeFood store just before Summer. 
  • Task: Explain the tasks you had to complete, highlighting any goal or specific challenges you had. Think of this as telling a story with Who, What, Where, When, Why, etc.
  • Action: Describe how you worked with the team to tackle the challenge. Be very specific, listing the steps you took to solve the problem. That is what employers want to hear from you. 
  • Result: Close with the results of your team. You should explain the impact you made or the lessons you learned. 

We hope these tips will help you ace your interview and land the position you want! 

Use The Star Method To Answer Interview Questions

Working in small format stores. Source: Pexel 

Wrap-up – Becoming A Small Format Team Member

With the rise of 10,000 small-format stores, working a retail job has never been that fun! You will be able to learn through doing multiple tasks and getting to interact with a close-knit community.

All in all, remember that a successful small format team member is the one that makes guests love their store at first sight! So don’t worry, it is not just the skills that get you in this market; it is about the attitudes. 

See More:

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Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose works full-time at JobandEdu and has been a sorority member and leader since 2020. She has authored hundreds of articles on determining the career path, sorts of employment, the job-seeking process, and self-improvement as a devoted leader and aid to others. Despite her countless accomplishments, Sophia knows the hardships of securing a position in the employment market as a novice. On top of that, she's eager to share her command and life-long experience through her writings.