Apply Online! Retail Specialty & Gourmet Food Jobs & Employment Applications

If you love to cook, serve food, or recommend bizarre ingredients to other culinary enthusiasts, a specialty food employment opportunity may be perfect for you.

The Rise of Specialty Food Stores

As current shifts in eating habits create heightened interest in concepts like ethically sourced products and all-natural ingredients, consumers increasingly shop at specialty food stores for merchandise often perceived as higher quality and frequently unavailable at traditional grocery retailers. Largely consisting of stores and markets focused on offering natural and organic grocery products, the retail sector of the specialty foods industry regularly experiences higher annual rates of growth than the general economy overall. The recent surge in the growth of the industry directly reflects the increased popularity of newer, nontraditional food sources. The trend also creates jobs, as specialty food stores must continuously increase staff sizes to keep up with rises in consumer demand.

gourmet and speciality food jobs
Gourmet food related jobs

Types of Jobs Available

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 220,000 people across the nation work for a specialty food store, either on the sales floor or in corporate settings. At the store level, specialty food jobs generally entail the same basic duties performed by employees at traditional grocery retailers. Specialty food store associates serve as cashiers, departmental workers, stock clerks, and supervisors or managers. Employees typically enjoy clean and organized work environments featuring ample interaction with customers and collaboration with coworkers. While entry-level cashier and stock clerk positions often prove attainable for younger or inexperienced workers, departmental jobs frequently demand the eligibility and skill to operate equipment associated with specific food store tasks, like baking and meat cutting.

Unique Characteristics of Specialty Food Jobs

Despite operating like traditional grocery retailers in many ways, specialty food stores sometimes maintain slightly different job descriptions due to the nature of the merchandise available at such establishments. Store associates regularly converse with customers about the features and advantages of specialty food items like artisan, ethnic, gourmet, natural, and organic products. Because specialty food tends to cost more, retailers commonly try to offset the higher prices by creating unique and fulfilling shopping experiences for customers. Consequently, specialty food jobs often require employees to participate in interactive activities, like distributing free samples or conducting demonstrations. Prospective workers therefore need to prove capable of memorizing product information and leading detailed discussions about specialty foods.

Pay Rates and Other Considerations

In addition to enhancing the shopping experiences of customers, many specialty food stores implement policies designed to enrich the lives of employees. As one of the most recognized names in the industry, Whole Foods, offers a minimum starting rate of $10.00 an hour and pays an average hourly wage of more than $18.00. Industrywide, average pay rates range from $9.00 or $10.00 per hour for cashiers and stock clerks to $40,000 in starting annual salary options for supervisors and managers. Specialty food stores also attract workers by regularly becoming involved with popular trends, such as sourcing products ethically and locally, demonstrating environmental responsibility, and supporting charitable causes. Industry analysts expect specialty food jobs to remain widely available into the next decade, as consumers continue to scrutinize the quality and nutrition of available grocery options more than ever before.

Specialty Foods Store Job Descriptions

Cashier – Specialty food retailers employ cashiers to lead customers through the process of paying for purchases. The entry-level job involves the repeated use of cash registers, which employees must learn how to operate and maintain. Cashiers also collect payment, make change when necessary, and issue receipts to finalize sales. Bagging or otherwise packaging purchased items represents another responsibility commonly held by cashiers at specialty food stores. Individuals seeking cashier jobs seldom need an extensive history of employment, as many specialty food retailers hire inexperienced yet engaging and outgoing workers to fill the entry-level position. Cashiers usually work a variety of shifts, often while standing for a majority of the time, and also perform basic math on a regular basis. The average pay rate for cashiers at specialty food stores hovers between $9.00 and $10.00 an hour.

Team Member – The position of team member represents a general job title encompassing a number of different entry-level occupations regularly offered at specialty food stores. Team members often hold job titles indicative of the specific type of work the positon entails. Typical work duties range food preparation and replenishment tasks to customer service and sales responsibilities. Team members keep the store clean and well-stocked while using product knowledge to explain the beneficial attributes of available items and help customers make purchase decisions. Workers employed as team members usually specialize in a particular area of store operations, such as baking, cooking, or stocking merchandise. Team member jobs commonly entail long periods of standing, the lifting and carrying of heavy items, and constant contact with customers. Specialty food retailers generally fill the entry-level positions with employees capable of working flexible schedules, which frequently include evening, weekend, and holiday shifts. Newly hired team members typically receive full training on the job, though particularly specialized positions sometimes demand previous related experience. On average, specialty food retailers pay team members an hourly rate of nearly $11.00.

Supervisor – Often serving as the entry-level management position at specialty food stores, the job title of supervisor comes with increased levels of responsibility. In addition to sharing the duties of cashiers and team members whenever necessary, supervisors contribute to the management of the store by carrying out basic managerial tasks. Responsibilities frequently include training and supervising workers, keeping track of inventory, and assisting with accounting, budgeting, purchasing, scheduling, and similar duties essential to the achievement of store goals. Supervisors often work full-time and usually gain employment via internal promotion or by having a proven track record of successfully working in the grocery retail or food service industries. The job typically requires flexible schedule availability, as well. Within the specialty food industry, supervisors enjoy a median hourly wage of roughly $17.00.