Receipt Handling Tips from a Styling Assistant

Handling receipts is one of the most important responsibilities as a styling assistant. They are the key to returning unused merchandise and getting those funds back to the lead stylist. As you could easily be dealing with upwards of $5000 in receipts, it is imperative that you are organized and always on top of it during all stages of the project.

If you are prepping with the lead stylist and are sent to purchase items on your own, pay attention to the items bought to make sure things are not being rung up twice or that an item hasn’t been rung up. Sounds like it would be a freebie, but missing or extra items on receipts will only make your job harder with returns. And that task is hard enough! Your receipts need to be folded neatly and put into a separate pouch, so as to not be mixed up with your personal purchases in your own wallet. Make it more fun by getting a pretty pouch!  It may seem crazy to put this much thought into receipts, but keeping them neat, folded and organized will make photocopying them easier. This leads me to my next step…

Once you have all the purchase receipts, it’s important to make a copy of the receipts as a back up.  This will typically be the assistant’s responsibility. Limit yourself to two receipts a page and keep it as clean as possible. Hide any unnecessary information on the bottom of receipts - coupons, return policies or upcoming sales/specials. On every receipt you need to be able to see the store name, individual items, tax and total, as well as the bar code. There are horror stories about entire receipts from jobs being lost, which means having back-ups are the only way to return the items. Obviously it will make returns blatant, uncomfortable and difficult!  I hope you never have to experience this, but anything can happen. Be prepared with your back ups!

After the shoot and while on set, when you are wrapping wardrobe you will most likely use a photocopy of the receipts to track and organize used items, as well as items that didn’t make it in front of the camera or on the model, and need to be returned. Once I have my wardrobe organized by store, I can then go through the receipt and check off the items I have to ensure everything is accounted for. ALWAYS USE A PENCIL AND MAKE MARKINGS LIGHTLY. You want the photocopies of your receipts to remain as clean as possible to ensure there is no confusion during billing.

Pay attention! Returns can be extremely daunting and overwhelming, but if you can devise a strong system that’s organized and calculated, it can be much smoother. I start by making sure my receipts are organized by store. For example, If I have 5 GAP receipts, I want to make sure they are all together. It makes finding them when the time comes easier. I have thought about putting the receipts in the individual bags but get nervous they will fall out and just find it’s easier to be safe and keep them on my actual person. As I’m doing returns, I pay close attention to what the store clerks are returning to be sure they are not forgetting an item or mis-ringing it. I have already calculated in advance what I should be expecting back from each store so I have that as a reference. Another big thing to pay attention to is tax, which should only ever be a problem if for example, you buy in the city but return out of the city. A store clerk can manually change it but if you don’t pay attention it might be missed. I never do multiple receipts at the same time. It can send a red flag to stores and could make it harder to purchase from them in the future.

In the end, organizing and being responsible for receipts is an extremely important and takes attention to detail and double checking.

Caitlin Dooley's work can be seen HERE

Photo Credit: Vajza N'Kuti.