Thursday, December 16, 2004

Retail Woes Part V

There’s a little something you should know about the Retail “Hierarchy”: A retail company has its CEO, then President, then GMM’s and DMM’s. Then there are Buyers, Assistant buyers, Administrative staff, etc. This comprises the Corporate part of the Retail world.
Then there are “The Stores”. The peons of the industry work in “the stores”.
Occasionally, the CEO or President, with his entourage of GMM’s, DMM’s and buyers will descend upon a store for a “Walkthrough.” Most of the time stores are given ample notice of an imminent Walkthrough and can staff accordingly for these momentous occasions. I say momentous because whenever the Top Management is coming through-- the victim in question…er—I mean the Store that is getting walked through, goes through a period of what I like to call Preparation Insanity.
During this time (usually three days before a scheduled Walkthrough) all available resources are pulled into the store, to blitz, ticket, floof, puff, perfect, etc. Any illusion that can be achieved, will be. The store manager and her ASM’s bury themselves in figures and sales and stock reports so that they might be able to spew out Statistics and Sales/Stock/Whatever Your Fancy Facts, on command. They also pull open to close shifts to work side-by-side with their associates recovering, re-arranging floors, ticketing, double-checking signing, etc.
On the Day Of The Dreaded Visit, extra associates are called in, so as to give the illusion of being fully-staffed. Any empty Fire Exits and Disabled Fitting rooms are crammed (*gasp* yes, don’t look at me like that, nothing is sacred during a Walkthrough!) as I was saying, crammed with all sorts of crap that needs to be hidden, like stock boxes, hanging racks, empty fixtures, etc. Even the stockrooms get stuffed to capacity—it's all a common practice that is part of the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Genre.”
The atmosphere during a Walkthrough is tense, Managers work in their departments until they get “called up” to walk with the Big Wigs (sort of like taking the last walk before an execution—honest it really feels that way sometimes) and they suffer through anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour of walking every facet of their departments, at attention and ready for questions while the CEO, President, GMM or DMM walks about, gesturing and speaking in a booming voice, while the Entourage furiously scribbles notes with their pointy noses buried in their notebooks.
The day of a Walkthrough is usually very tense until the Corporate Party leaves, and every thing has to be perfectly straight and straightly perfect.
It's a sad thing to admit, but on days like this you actually get mad at customers for shopping and messing up your perfect displays and fixtures.
Now how twisted is that? We should welcome and love and rejoice in the customers who shop in our store, not hate and wish Death upon them for messing up our row of Neatly Folded Scarves!
Pathetic, yes. But it really happens.
I only tell you this to give you an idea of how horrid it is to have someone from Corporate come to a department store—WITH ample warning.

Now we go to once again to my current situation, where we are all standing in our Store Manager’s office, hands on our mouths in a parody of the oft-stolen Scream Painting, on one of the busiest days of the year, where the entire store looks like a Level Five Tornado blew through, then turned around and decided to blow through again.
Customers are angry, the aisles are clogged, the lines at the checkouts are reminiscent of the lines for Opening Day of the Star Wars Movies during the eighties, and there is no hope in sight of making even a dent in the next few hours, let alone ten minutes. And the CEO is coming. THE CEO IS COMING!
And here I must leave you, because I’ve once again run out of room on this blog…
Until tomorrow

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