Working Again: Yes or No?

A couple of weeks ago, when I was checking out at our local Trader Joe’s, I was asked if I might be interested in filling out an application – the young crew member scanning my items said she thought I might be a good fit. Employees at our TJ’s run the gamut from young to old, and all work part time. For example, one employee I met this past summer lives in California, but comes to Tennessee every summer to visit family, and works a few days a week at TJ’s while he’s here. The woman I chatted with said I could pretty much set my own schedule; that is, how many days per week I wanted to work and she asked me to think about it. I thanked her and said I would, thinking in fact though I would walk out of the store and never consider it for another moment.

The funny thing is that over the past couple of weeks I have found myself actually weighing the pros and cons of working there.

Neither Brett nor I have ever needed to work or supplement our income since we retired – careful budgeting, saving, and living within our means has seen us through even when our daughters were still at home or going to college. We will be able to put all of next year’s Social Security and Brett’s military retirement pension increases into savings. I enjoy our current relaxed lifestyle; it’s what I always hoped for when I thought about retirement. However, the idea of having something to fill a couple of days a week while we’re in Tennessee has got me thinking, maybe it might be a good idea to work for a couple of days of week? Trader Joe’s treats their employees well and many consider it a great place to work and fun as well. There’s no dress code other than wearing a store t-shirt. I am a big fan of their products and would have no trouble promoting them. I have retail experience and mostly enjoyed it.

Plus, our Family Big Event in early 2024 is going to cost a bit, and some extra income would be a nice way to cover those costs so we don’t have to dip into other savings. I’d also be able to save extra for potential relocation costs when our time in Tennessee is over.

But, I also wonder whether I want to be on my feet for eight hours, even if it’s only twice a week? Do I still have the energy to put in a full day’s work (and it would be actual physical work)? I already dislike appointments – do I want to have to be somewhere on someone else’s schedule twice a week? Do we really want to pay any more federal tax than we already do (Tennessee fortunately has no state income tax)? Those are some of the negatives that constantly come to mind. And, is Trader Joe’s really be interested in hiring an older person like me, especially after all the current holiday hubbub dies off?

The idea of working a couple of days a week at Trader Joe’s is tempting, if they want me. I have no desire in starting until after the new year because of our holiday plans, but I can see advantages in waiting until the first of the year anyway. I can also clearly see the negatives, especially getting hired and discovering I can’t cut it after only a few days or weeks.

I don’t have to work, but part-time at Trader Joe’s might be fun as well as rewarding beyond earning a small amount. It could also be a non-starter or pure misery. I am fortunate to have a choice, and the time to think about whether the choice would be a good one or not.

What do you think?

36 thoughts on “Working Again: Yes or No?

  1. From what I’ve seen TJ’s would be a nice place to work. Are you sure their shifts are 8 hours? I thought part-time shifts are often 4 hours. If it were me I might entertain the idea of two or three 4 hour shifts per week but definitely not 8 hours. I think I would also want a set schedule so I could plan my other days.

    You will also increase your risk of getting COVID and bringing it home to your family. Mask wearing in stores seems to be on the upswing again where I live in Massachusetts but I assume that might not be the case where you live.

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    1. So far I know nothing about what working at Trader Joe’s would entail – a four-hour shift would be ideal! I have been worrying about eight-hour shifts, but I could definitely handle four hours.

      COVID is a big concern. For a shorter shift I could and would mask, but for a longer shift (6-8 hours, I don’t think so). Fear of COVID will be the biggest deterrent for me.

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  2. DH worked part time at West Marine after he retired, mostly so he could get a discount on things he wanted/needed for his boat. He did for just over a year, and he found they wanted to give him more and more responsibility (at least partially because the labor market was a challenge even then). The retail life lost its sheen for him pretty quickly once he had the things he wanted for his boat. He had some interesting encounters and pleasant customers, but also said many people really treat retail works poorly — something he wasn’t used to coming from an executive position. 😂

    One of my good friends is taking a holiday retail job in her favorite indy bookstore. She’s always wanted to work in a book store and, of course, extra money is nice as a retiree. She figures this will give her 6-7 weeks of trying it to see if she likes or hates it. And she’ll get the store discount for the holidays.

    I’ve been tempted to work in a favorite store or two for a discount, but many of them are on concrete and 8 hours on my feet seems challenging. I did some volunteer work that put me on concrete for 5 hours and my back really hurt afterward. I’ll be interested in what you decide.

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    1. I have no idea if TJ’s offers an employee discount or not; grocery store profits are not like those of other retail businesses. Getting a discount there would be sweet though as we use so many of their products.

      There’s a lot to think about. I got to a point where I disliked retail back in the day, but remember it was more issues with management than with the customers.

      No decision will be made until the end of the year, and at that point they might not even be hiring. In the meantime I’m really feeling 50-50 about the idea.

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  3. You could consider this. A way to meet people in your current community. See if they would allow you to work 4-6 hours a shift, as 8 is definitely long. Maybe you could be the person who helps with samples! A major consideration is COVID exposure though. you have less control over your choices of who you are around.

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    1. A shorter shift would be ideal, and I have no idea how long current shifts are. Our store is always hopping, so any shift would probably move along quickly. The worst is having to stand around with nothing to do or no one to help.

      As I said earlier, COVID will be the biggest deterrent. It scares me just to think about it.

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  4. The TJ’s where I live has quite a few older workers mostly as cashiers, from what I’ve noticed. Most stores only look to hire more staff before and during the holiday season, so if you want to get hired in January, they might not be hiring at that time. Would working affect your social security? I don’t know how that works.

    If you’re only working 10-15 hours per week, you wouldn’t be on your feet too long each shift, but there is the added COVID exposure risk and you’d have to be clear with them on the type of work you can physically handle. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to be unloading delivery trucks. Someone above mentioned being the person who hands out samples, so that could be an option, although the TJ’s near me has not brought that back yet since COVID. Another option would be to sit in the customer service area where you answer customer questions. Not sure if all stores have that, but at my store, they sit in this elevated platform that is surrounded by a wooden enclosure. You certainly do know a lot about their products and I have discovered new items from your blog, so I bet you’d be great at whatever job you do there, but it also depends on other factors.

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    1. Our TJs has several older workers as well, and others that come and go, like the guy from California. I doubt they would let me near a delivery truck, but getting the stuff out on the floor might be an issue. If I decide to apply it won’t happen until after the first of the year and who knows if they’ll even be hiring then.

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  5. I view my volunteer positions, which I enjoy tremendously, as jobs – just unpaid ones. I say this because both involve weekly time commitments that I need to honor, and standards to which I feel compelled to achieve.

    The big difference for me, and why I won’t ever accept a formal job, is that I do not want to experience any hassles whatsoever when I’m off on one of our fairly frequent trips. And I never want to undergo a performance evaluation ever, ever again (even though I’m sure I’d rock one, as I give 100%!)

    Having said that, I do absolutely see the benefits of a pleasant job in retirement, particularly at Trader Joes, which I adore for both their products and their employees. The above are my two sticking points, but absent those, I think it could have a whole lot of benefits!

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    1. We have no big travel plans for next year, so it feels like this would be the one year I could work if I wanted to. But, I honestly hate the idea of being required to follow any one else’s schedule. One of the biggest joys of being retired for me is that I make my own schedule. At the same time, the thought of having someone to do a couple of days a week (and at a place I like, Trader Joe’s) sounds like it might be a good fit. And, if I don’t like it, I can leave.

      Performance evaluations are something I don’t miss in the least!

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      1. Could they commit to giving you a set schedule? Like always/only midweek AM shifts, never/no weekends or evenings (as an example)? That would make it a whole lot more appealing I’d think.

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      2. This is what I need to find out – I intend to talk to somewhere there in the coming weeks and find out what working there would entail, the minimum hours I would have to commit to, etc. I don’t mind working weekends once in a while, or evenings, but I don’t want those for regular hours. That’s been my problem with management in the past, getting assigned to every weekend, or put on the evening shift rather than rotating with someone else.

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  6. I would love it and hope that I got an employee discount on food! I hope to get a gift like this when I retire, again, from my part time almost full time job. I really want to work somewhere that has food discounts for employees, or sells food I would want. I figure I will get paid for two days worth of exercise… lol. Plus it would pay for my plane trips out West every year and maybe pay for presents for grands without dipping into savings.

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    1. I think I’m going to have to do some research and see if I can find out what sort of benefits come with working at Trader Joe’s. An employee discount on their products would be a sweet benefit and enough for me.

      The income would be the icing on the cake – it would be nice to have our family event covered without having to tap into our other savings.

      I see being on my feet for work as exercise as well. The last time I worked I lost a LOT of weight!

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  7. I think it would be fun but I wouldn’t want a schedule and have to be somewhere plus dealing with people:). Not for me. I’m curious how do you plan to put all your SS in savings next year? what will you live on? just nosey:)

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    1. “We will be able to put all of next year’s Social Security and Brett’s military retirement pension into savings.”

      I too am intrigued by this statement (warmly)

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      1. Major OOPS! – I left out a VERY important word in that sentence: increases. We will be able to put all of next year’s Social Security and Brett’s military retirement INCREASES into savings. Hope this clarifies things and makes more sense.

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    2. Having to work off someone else’s schedule is one of the downsides of this idea. I really, really like making my own schedule every day and being beholden for the most part only to Brett and myself – it’s one of the things I love most about being retired.

      I left an important word out of that sentence – we’ll be able to put our SS and Brett’s military pension cost of living increases into savings, not the whole amount. So sorry for the confusion!

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  8. Something to definitely consider… I too would not enjoy being on someone else’s schedule after being retired and making my own schedule, but I might give it a try. Employee discounts might be a great perk too…

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    1. There are several pros and cons to weigh, with some of them more on the emotional side versus the practical and vice versa. The idea of having to meet someone else’s schedule almost makes me clench my jaw, but like the idea of earning a little extra to put toward our family event and getting out of the apartment more. I also am concerned about COVID risks so much to evaluate.

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  9. Like everything else, there are pluses and minuses to returning to working part-time. It also depends on what type of work they want you to do. Hopefully, nothing that’s too physically demanding, like carrying heavy boxes of stuff or cases of wine. Being on your feet for 8 hrs can be a good form of exercise but also exhausting and painful if you have feet or back problems. Being around people can be stimulating and enjoyable at times, but also it means more exposure to Covid and dealing with grumpy and unhappy customers at times. Only you know what is best for you. Maybe try 4 hrs a couple of days per week and see how you feel. You can always ask for more hours if you enjoy it or quit.

    A few years back, I used to work at Macy’s for holidays and use the money I earned to support my favorite charity. It was nice to give more for the Holidays. After 3-4 years of dealing with the returns the days after Christmas, my enthusiasm came to a full stop😁. I found other ways to boost my donation during Holiday time.

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    1. So many plusses and minuses! Brett refuses to step in – he’s said he will support whatever I decide I want to do. I would not trust myself to carry a case of wine, but most other things I could handle. A four-hour shift a couple of days of week would be ideal, but I have no idea if such a shift exists at our local store. I need to do some research to see what I might actually getting myself into.

      LOL – I worked at Meier & Frank in Portland (which became Macy’s) back in the day. One of the best papers I ever wrote in college was about working there at Christmas – it just about destroyed the joy of the holiday for me. I absolutely LOVE that you donated your income to charity – what a great idea!

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  10. It is an easy NO answer for me. I retired in 2016 and about a year later my boss asked me to come back to help as he was experiencing issues with finding help. I gladly accepted and welcomed the opportunity to pass along my corporate knowledge to the new employee, loved the pay and having more social interactions. Then March 2020 came along, the offices were closed and we worked from home. I still enjoyed the work and the income but losing the benefit of going to the office ruined it for me. I began to resent having to organize my life around their schedule. I loved my job and coworkers and didn’t want to damage those relationships with a (first-time ever!) bad attitude, so I resigned. I love and appreciate retirement, even though I sometimes miss the pay and the people.
    Nina

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    1. I thought it was an easy no for me as well but the idea sort of wiggled its way in and now I’m undecided. There is NO WAY I would ever return to my former work environment even though I enjoyed my coworkers and was paid well, so I get what you’re saying. Part-time at TJ’s might be a good fit (might being the operative word). I’m going to find out more though before I make a decision.

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  11. Beware of tax implications. I don’t know the details but I understand that social security income is subject to a different tax rate if you are under age 70 and you have “wage” income.

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  12. Standing and lifting are things of the past for me. Chatting at the cash register happens in off hours. I’d suggest you stop in durning the busy period, watch and cruise for an hour, to see if you would enjoy that. Like others, knowing your concern of COVID, watch that interaction closely.
    I am wondering if they are targeting older workers because we, in general, feel they could always use a bit more cash and are incredibly reliable.
    Do I think you could do it? Sure. Do I think you would enjoy it? Hummmm

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    1. LOL – our TJ’s is ALWAYS busy. I have yet to go in there when it wasn’t full of customers. The standing and lifting for me would depend on how many hours there were in a shift, but I have good, comfortable shoes for being on my feet and I think they might be smart enough not to ask me to lift a case of wine or something heavy like that. Apparently employees are assigned to teams, and I think you rotate through different assignments, from stocking shelves to pulling dated items to working the registers. I really need to find out more. And yes, COVID remains a huge concern for me. I would have no trouble wearing a mask for 4-5 hours, but longer would be problematic.

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  13. Vendors come in and stock wine, not store employees in all stores I have visited. They use dollies and carts to move merchandise to the aisles. If you are supposed to load the cart or dolly, just say you cannot. I had a minor back injury when I took a retail job to supplement my salary during the holidays. I have not recovered from the repercussions of that injury. My health went down from there.
    You really seem to busy to work! People in masks do catch covid sometimes. I vote no.
    Did you get my email?

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    1. I’ve never seen a vendor stocking wine in Trader Joe’s! Always employees, but that may depend too on state laws. The wine/beer section in our local TJ’s is much smaller than the ones in Oregon stores, but laws regarding alcohol sales are very different here.

      No decision yet but I am going to start chatting up employees whenever I go to shop. There are plusses and minuses to taking on a job, but I just don’t know which will win out yet.

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  14. It woukd be a no for me. If I am looking to keep busy or get out of the house my solution is a volunteer schedule that I control myself with anorganization I care about, and or taking classes when they are available through Olli and the like. Especially since we’ll be getting these increases and they can be thrown into savings.

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    1. This is a very temporary location for us and we have less than two years to go which is one reason (not the best one) I don’t particularly want to get involved in scheduled volunteering. We don’t need income from work either, but it might be kind of fun to finance something big, like our whole family event next year, without dipping into savings. I guess I am feeling sort of restless here – there’s none of the contentment I felt in Hawaii – and am thinking a VERY part-time job would be easy enough and different enough to scratch the restless itch I’m feeling now.

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