ANNAPOLIS, Md. , Allyson Koteski
is so unfailingly cheerful, she
fits right in with the colorful, battery-powered toys filling the Toys R Us store she
The store manager darts from customer to customer, checking stock for what's on their kids' and grandkids' holiday lists.Along the way, she
clears out carts, deals with personnel issues and straightens shelves just like Tickle Me Elmo might - if he
were operating at warp speed.And even as the busiest season in a stressful year for toys draws to a close, she
has a great job.
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"The busier I am, the more I enjoy it," says Koteski
If you like people, as Koteski
, 35, clearly does, store management can have its rewards.Though Koteski and Toys R Us won't discuss pay, salaries for managers at department stores and big-box retailers can be $200,000 or more, says Dan Butler, NRF's vice president of retail operations and a former department store manager.
, who is single, the retail life suited her
from the time she
began working at a Mr. Donut shop in high school.She also worked as a seasonal associate at Toys R Us during college.
"I liked the variety and being busy," she
says."I truly enjoyed it." Koteski was hired as an assistant manager at Toys R Us in her native Pittsburgh after graduating from Hiram College in Ohio in 1994.She was promoted to store manager in Altoona, Pa., and reassigned to Annapolis last spring.
The store here is one of the bigger in the chain, with about 35,000 square feet, several thousand toys, electronics, children's clothing items and other products, 115 employees and three assistant managers.
Working a variety of day and night shifts suits her
just fine, Koteski
says.On a recent week, her
day shifts were 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and an evening shift was 1 to 11 p.m.She
likes to sleep in and do errands on the days when she
starts in the afternoon.Even though her
shifts are typically 10 hours, during this season it hasn't been unusual for her
to work 12 hours, given the restocking necessary to keep up with sales and recalls.
Of the holiday season, which included lines that stretched to the back of the store early on the day after Thanksgiving, Koteski
says, "You just need to keep it all in perspective, have an organized plan and be flexible."Part of the plan: "You pick up stuff as you go, so at the end of the night, you don't have 20 carts that need to go back."
There isn't a job in the store she
hasn't done or wouldn't do, and working with the often-young staff is one of the highlights, she
has no complaints, at least that she's
sharing, this holiday season.
gets off work at 3 p.m. Monday, Koteski
will board a 55-minute flight to Pittsburgh to celebrate Christmas with her
parents, two brothers, sister and their significant others.She'll fly back Christmas evening so she
can be at work at 5 a.m. Wednesday to help restock shelves and get the store ready for the return rush.
"My whole family is really close, and they pretty much understand what happens in the fourth quarter," she
...Allyson Koteski, the cheerful manager of Toys R Us in Annapolis, Md., loves the chaos of her job. "The busier I am, the more I enjoy it," she says.
...Allyson Koteski, the cheerful manager of Toys R Us in Annapolis, Md., loves the chaos of her job.
"The busier I am, the more I enjoy it," she