In 2018, Lids launched a robust Merchandising Development Program to transition recent college graduates into the fast world of buying, planning & allocation. This new program prepares new hires to become stronger merchants by completing rotations in various areas of the business such as buying, planning, finance, distribution, store operations and marketing.
Meet David Barry, a recent Indiana University Alum and graduate of the Merchandising Development Program!
Tell us about yourself and your journey to Lids.
I was born and raised in the city of Chicago and have always been interested in sports, especially baseball. Having played baseball all my life, I was no stranger to Lids, which I always simply knew as “the store where the walls are made of baseball hats”. Naturally, I was drawn to them when Lids was recruiting at Indiana University my senior year. After hearing about the environment at the office, and getting a very impressive tour, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the Lids team.
What has been your favorite part of the Merchandising Development Program?
My favorite part has been the immersive and diverse learning experiences I’ve had. Similar to my previous internships, I had a lot of learning to do. But with this being my first full-time job, I knew that what I would learn here would have much more meaning to my long-term career.
In each department, I tried to learn about every process and competency that each area possessed and strived to apply critical thinking in ways that these processes could be improved. What made these multiple learning experiences even more enjoyable was the people teaching me. Every single member of the Lids team made the effort to ensure that I fully understood what was being taught.
Additionally, this program has distinguished itself in giving me many different opportunities for executive exposure. The people I work with on a daily basis have given me many excellent opportunities to show off my work to the top leaders in our company.
How has the Merchandising Development Program prepared you for your role as a Merchandise Analyst?
This program has done a great job in preparing me for my role as a Merchandise Analyst. Having limited retail experience, I knew it would be a steep learning curve. However, by being exposed to different areas of the company, for a number of weeks, I am now able to better understand how my actions as a Merchandise Analyst affect the business as a whole.
Given the rotational nature of the program, I had many unique experiences. Almost commonplace in the sports world, I witnessed how different departments handled a hot market scenario when a team wins a championship, or when a famous player gets traded. I also spent a few days in multiple Lids stores. This experience added significant value in allowing me to hear from store associates and managers, finding out what opportunities lay in stores, and understanding what our customers’ perspectives are. This program also prepared me well as a Merchandise Analyst by giving me the opportunity to spend a couple of days in our Distribution Center, participate in product line reviews, and in promotional marketing meetings.
What types of projects have you completed so far?
Many of my projects have involved creating various reports or “dashboards” for different areas of the business. These projects have tested my skills in Microsoft Excel and PowerBI, and also have given me the opportunity to further expand my knowledge of Lids products and concepts, as well as the retail industry as a whole.
In handling these projects, I have developed a better understanding for how different business units within a company come together to solve problems, find opportunities, and better address the needs of the customer.
I recently created a report to help other Merchandise Analysts and Planners answer product requests made by our retail stores. It has been very rewarding to see the work of a Merchandise Analyst benefit multiple departments, including our 1000+ retail locations.
What is the best part of working at Lids?
There are many parts of Lids that I thoroughly enjoy. Most of our work is centered on sports, which creates a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere. During lunch, or after a meeting, you can find employees taking time to play ping-pong, Pop-A-Shot or using our awesome in-house gym.
For me, the best part of working at Lids has been the people. I have met great people in every rotation of this training program and was included in design meetings with our suppliers, marketing planning meetings with professional sports leagues, and even played on our company’s softball team! By the end of the program, thanks to my amazing co-workers at Lids, I truly felt a part of the Lids team.