Before they made it to the White House, plenty of US presidents worked odd jobs.
A handful have even worked retail gigs.
From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, these presidents each worked retail in some capacity.
Future presidents need to start somewhere. And plenty of United States presidents worked at rather unusual occupations before they rose to the White House.
So it's no surprise that throughout history, quite a few future commanders in chief worked in retail gigs.
Today, retail workers make up a sizable chunk of the workforce in the US. According to the 2020 census, 9.8 million people worked retail in 2018, accounting for 6.3% of the total labor force.
Here's a look back at the handful of presidents who also spent time working in general stores, grocery shops, and ice cream parlors:
Abraham Lincoln made friends working as a clerk in a general store
Lincoln's first job was as a clerk in a general store in New Salem, Illinois, where he'd arrived in 1831, according to Miller Center.
The gig worked to Lincoln's advantage. The store acted as an unofficial town meeting spot. Lincoln, who would later become the 16th president of the US, was able to build relationships with nearly everyone in town.
He quickly became known as a friendly and intelligent man around town, and six months later he launched his first political campaign for a seat in the Illinois state legislature. As president, Lincoln would dub his executive office, where he would converse with members of the public, "the shop," harkening back to his retail roots.
Andrew Johnson became a Tennessee tailor
According to the National Park Service, Johnson's "thriving" store also proved crucial in his educational development. He apparently would hire people to read to him as he worked. That drew in customers who enjoyed debating politics with Johnson, prompting him to eventually seek office.
Ulysses Grant worked at his younger brother's store
As a child, Ulysses Grant avoided working in his father Jesse's tannery, preferring instead to ride horses, according to the Miller Center.
Because of his son's lack of interest in the family business, Jesse Grant ended up arranging to have him sent to West Point to become a military officer.
Years later, after his military career had stalled out, Grant began looking for a new line of work to support his family. He eventually settled in Galena, Illinois, and began working for his younger brother Orvil at the family's leather goods store.
According to historian Ron Chernow's biography "Grant," the future president was sometimes "easily hoodwinked by customers who suggested lower prices." While Grant was still working in the store, the Civil War would break out. Grant would go on to become the commander of the Union Army.
Harry S Truman sold men's clothing
After serving in World War I, Harry S. Truman, who'd also spent time as a farmer and a bank clerk, partnered with war buddy Eddie Jacobson to open a men's clothing and accessories shop, or haberdashery, in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, in 1919.
With the country in recession, the business nearly went bankrupt. Truman & Jacobson famously closed its doors in 1922, after just three years in business. But the future president managed to pivot. That same year, he was elected a Jackson County Court judge, and by 1934, he was in the US Senate.
Bill Clinton was a grocer and a comic book salesman
At age 13, Bill Clinton started working as a grocer in Arkansas, according to Convenience Store News. Ever the businessman, the future president persuaded his boss to let him sell comic books at the store, too, and was able to rake in an extra $100 for his tenacity.
In 2017, Clinton reflected on that job in a conversation with Conan O'Brien.
"When I was thirteen I got a job from this little grocery store across the street from our house," he said. "And the guy was in his seventies ... he was very superstitious and it bothered him that I was left-handed."
The owner insisted that Clinton stock merchandise with his right hand, culminating in a mishap where the future president broke two jars of Hellman's mayonnaise on the floor.
Barack Obama was an ice cream scooper
"Chocolate ice cream gets real hard," he told the magazine. "Your wrists hurt."
Although the former president was photographed eating ice cream many times over his two terms, he said that he ate too much of it during his first summer job to really like it anymore. Then again, he once posted on LinkedIn explaining the value of this early job.
"My first summer job wasn't exactly glamorous, but it taught me some valuable lessons," he wrote. "Responsibility. Hard work. Balancing a job with friends, family, and school."
Jacquelyn Smith and Natalie Walters wrote a previous version of this article.
Read the original article on Business Insider