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Powell’s Books
3.5

12 reviews
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Powell’s Books Employee Reviews

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Ratings by category
4.3Work-Life Balance
3.8Pay & Benefits
2.9Job Security & Advancement
3.1Management
3.5Culture
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3.0

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It’s a retail job like any other
Temporary Employee (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORAugust 22, 2018
Being around books all day, being around customers who are happier than most retail customers, and helping someone find the perfect book *does* make you love your job. That’s the easy part. But rest assured, Powell’s is banking on that love to pay you and advance your career as little as they can get away with. They boast that they pay "well" by which they mean better than other retail jobs, but that’s not the same thing as paying well. Have you tried to live in Portland on $13.25/hr in 2018? Employees have worked there for years without snagging one of the coveted few full-time positions or higher paying positions because *everyone* wants to work at Powell’s.

The worst part, honestly, is the 10-minute break, which includes travel time. So if you’re working at the till, you have exactly ten minutes to go up 2 or 3 floors (always a toss-up whether stairs or elevator will be quicker), shove a meal’s worth of food in your face (if your shift is during time of day when you need a meal, which of course it will be), and travel back down. It’s unreasonable at best and inhumane at worst.

Every time I go in for a shift, I’m hit in the gut once again by how much I love and hate it there, both true simultaneously.

Pros
book borrowing program, 50% discount on used books, 30% discount on new books and merchandise, supportive coworkers and atmosphere of camaraderie
Cons
short breaks, low pay, low opportunity for advancement
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5.0

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The best company I have ever had the pleasure to work for
RDC Warehouse (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORNovember 4, 2018
Powell’s is a very unique company. It is hard to put down exactly how I feel about Powell’s Books. Except that I absolutely loved it. The management is great, as well as the company. As long as you are a hard worker and conscientious about the quality of work you are producing. You will do great here! Group interviews can be intimidating, but if you get in the door. Give it all you got, and you will stay at a company that has been the heart of Portland for decades.
Pros
Discounts on merchandise
Cons
Na
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4.0

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Fun but very busy work environment
Temporary Employee (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORApril 11, 2018
I love Powell’s, and enjoyed working there for the most part. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. The store was very busy most of the time, and shelving books was straining on my back.
Pros
Employee discount
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4.0

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A big ol’ bookstore
Operations Specialist / Assistant Manager (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORDecember 4, 2017
Powell’s is a great place to work, with a few caveats. First off, the management vs. union environment gets tiring. The pay isn’t great, but the people you work with are outstanding, and the benefits are good if you can qualify for them. More and more, the company is moving away from hiring full-time employees and moving toward part-time and seasonal hires, none of whom qualify for benefits.
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5.0

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fast paced customer service based environment
Administration and Customer Service (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORNovember 4, 2017
• Assisting the lead visual merchandiser with flex monthly promotions and displays for new favorites.
• Responsible for implementing merchandising guidelines and developing a standard throughout the company.
Pros
great staff and customers
Cons
late shifts
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1.0

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Bureaucratic Mess
Bookseller (Current Employee) –  Cedar Hills, ORAugust 23, 2017
HR and managers do not treat employees like they are people.
Employees are disposable.
Constant monitoring and micromanaging.
Inconsistent workplace policies.
Employees are not provided with enough time and resources to perform that job functions that are required of them.
Unrealistic performance standards for the number duties each individual must do.
Minimal training and support.
Pros
Great coworkers, some great perks
Cons
Lack of benefits, poor timekeeping policies, don’t treat you like you are a person
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3.0

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A Great Retail Job
Bookseller (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORFebruary 21, 2017
I loved being around books and helping people find stories. I learned how to test a website and sharpened my customer service skills. The hardest part of the job was being on my feet all day. The most enjoyable part would be the books.
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3.0

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Great coworkers and customers
book seller (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORApril 20, 2015
Coworkers and customers are great. Management’s vision is extremely short sighted which has put the company years being where it should be in internet sales. Management is also very insular and political, making it hard to gain advancement.
Pros
Customers
Cons
Management
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4.0

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Best job I’ve ever had
Warehouse worker/driver (Former Employee) –  Portland, OregonFebruary 23, 2015
Powell’s is a great place to work at. It’s a union job, the benefits are great, and so is the pay-scaling. As you can imagine there are flamboyant "characters" floating around the company, and they bring with them their eccentricities that billow out into the work environment. My manager at Powell’s was the best boss I’ve ever had, he really spent time with his crew to ensure happiness and healthy work conditions. The employee discount was a nice perk, too, 50% off on used materials!
Pros
Union, strong vetting practices ensured great management, location and employee discount
Cons
Shrinking company — people just don’t read books like they used to
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5.0

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Engaging work environment
Senior Book Buyer Level 3 (Former Employee) –  Portland, OrDecember 9, 2014
-Fast- paced customer service oriented store with a wide variety of
duties so you can always stay busy.
-A many tiered management system allowing chance for advancement /job description change
Pros
Great benefits & Co-workers
Cons
Slow to implement changes at times
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4.0

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Working in a Bookstore
Cashier (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORJune 27, 2014
Powell’s is an awesome atmosphere to work in. The only problem is everyone wants to work there and it can take a long time to find full time positoins
Pros
Great customers, book check-outs
Cons
part time work
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1.0

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Not the dream job you think it is
Customer Service/Operator (Former Employee) –  Portland, ORJune 2, 2014
Sadly, working at Powell’s was one of the worst job experiences of my life. While the main location on Burnside remains one of the best things about Portland and one of the world’s best bookstores, the culture of the company has changed under Emily Powell’s guidance.

If you’re full time, the benefits package is really nice, and people will think you’re cool at parties when you tell them where you work. Otherwise, expect low pay, inflexible scheduling, micro-management from many managers, and a the sadness of watching a once-wonderful place slowly decline into misguided corporatization.

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Overall rating

3.5

Based on 12 reviews
53
44
33
20
12

Ratings by category

4.3Work/Life Balance
3.8Compensation/Benefits
2.9Job Security/Advancement
3.1Management
3.5Culture

Ratings from women

3.5InHerSight Score

3.2Personal Development

4.6Career Opportunities

3.0Family Support

Women rate the female-friendliness of their workplaces on InHerSight

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Questions about Powell’s Books

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  • What is the vacation policy like? How many vacation days do you get per year?
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Powell’s Books Reviews by Job Title

  • Bookseller (3)
  • Temporary Employee (2)
  • Warehouse Worker (2)
  • Administrative Services (1)
  • Cashier (1)

Powell’s Books Reviews by Location

  • Portland, OR
  • Cedar Hills, OR

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