Retail-tainment: A Good Outlet For Drama Graduates?


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Finding a career in acting or dance can be difficult. No one wants to study drama only to end up in a retail job. However, there’s more to the retail sector than your average supermarket or clothes shop.

Enter retail-tainment. This is a real thing, I swear I’m not making it up.

This is a branch of retail that combines retail and entertainment and is popular around the world. Such retail stores may include a play-zone for children or combine games and sports such as Florida’s Adrenalina (an extreme sports gear store with a Flowrider wave machine in it!), but it may also include retail stores that combine theatrics.

These novelty stores generally take on a theme and so look for staff that are able to play within that theme. More importantly, the salary is much higher than your average retail job because you are also providing a service as an entertainer.

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These jobs can be competitive and vacancies may not come up often, but it could still be an easier avenue than other parts of the entertainment industry and may even lead onto greater opportunities in the future.

Here are just a few of the different types of retail-tainment out there that could appeal to a budding actor or dancer.

Getting in Costume

Many retail jobs require a ‘costume’ of sorts, if you count a uniform. Many may even have a script for greeting new customers. But there are some retail jobs that have taken this to the next level such as Toronto’s Harry Potter themed store, Curiosa, in which staff dress up and act as if they’re wizards from the Harry Potter universe.

Such a job requires staff to play a character and could be something to satisfy anyone with a passion for theatre.

There are various stores that may even have mascots or doorman who play characters. There are also stores and events that may employ PR people to entice walkers-by into the shop whilst playing a character, perhaps advertising deals or carrying tasters. These could all be great outlets for budding actors.

Working with Kids

There are many novelty stores aimed at children that may require a bit of theatrics. Some Disney Store jobs may look for people that are fun-loving and enthusiastic, certain to appeal more to children.

Here you are not just working as store operator, but a children’s entertainer, and those with drama qualifications are likely to be favored.

The likes of London’s Hamleys hires’ staff to do sales pitches and demos of toys. These have to be done with an air of theatrics, and so being from a drama background could be advantageous.

While you do get to act like a kid, a certain quota of sales may need to be met – so it’s not just a case of playing around with toys all day. However, it’s certainly a lot more fun than your average retail job and hence positions can be quite competitive.  

Music and Dance

There are many avenues for those that like their singing or dancing. Cyberdog is a famous store brand specializing in rave culture merchandise. Not only do their stores hire DJs to play live sets while customers peruse around, their stores also hire dancers. These dancers don’t have to interact with the public or handle sales – they’re literally paid to dance!

In the hospitality trade, there are a number of restaurants that may hire dancers and singers too. Their job is to entertain people while they dine. Similarly, such dancers and singers may not have to take part in any of the customer service – their job is simply to provide entertainment.

This isn’t the case with all stores and restaurants and sometimes you may be expected to dance/sing and serve customers. Some themed restaurants may employ singing or dancing waiters. There are also freelance services that exist for catering at weddings or parties.

Some of these services can be a little discriminating when it comes to the appearance of their staff such as Abercrombie & Fitch, known for notoriously only hiring people that could pass for models (many of their staff are aspiring or experienced models). In the hospitality trade, there are many examples of this too such as Hooters.

A lot of these services may also only be able to give a limited amount of hours to staff each week. Some of this may be in regards to health & safety (employing someone to dance 9 to 5 every week could be a little too physically demanding), while other employers may do it as a way of accommodating for hundreds of applicants.

Such jobs are likely to have a good hourly pay, they may only be suitable as a part-time venture. Students and those wanting to support a freelance career are most likely to benefit from these jobs.  


The concept of mixing dining and theatre has been around for centuries. These theatre-restaurant experiences can be a great path for aspiring actors. Some may be more interactive with the audience such as medieval banquets, in which actors may get people up to participate in games. Others, such as Tokyo’s famous Robot Restaurant, may be more of a production in which the audience don’t participate. 

Such restaurants look specifically for actors.

While you may only work a few hours each week, it’s likely you’ll be doing rehearsals much like a theatre production, making this a good full-time option. That said, some of these theatre-restaurants may only run for a limited time or may be seasonal.

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Retail-tainment: A Good Outlet For Drama Graduates?
Struggling actors and drama students need to take a fresh look at retail-tainment
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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.