In retail history


On May 28th, 1867, Mauritius Reich, a Hungarian immigrant, opened a dry goods store at 36 Whitehall St in Atlanta, Georgia.  The store named M. Rich Dry Goods with the name being derived from Mauritius Reich’s name being anglicized to Morris Rich.

Due to their rapid success, Rich’s moved four times by 1882 and was considered one of the big five retailers in Atlanta.  The Rich family operated the company until 1976 and the name plate was retired by the current owners on March 6th, 2005.

Rich’s enjoyed a loyal following over it 100+ years in operation.  Two fondly remembered traditions are the Great Tree for Christmas and the Pink Pig monorail in the toy department for the Holidays.

Selective deafness

Polish_Army_Parade_2015_(21023591328)I stopped by a local shop the other day.  I was in a hurry and just needed to pick up one thing.  Grabbing the item, I headed to the registers.

Along the way, I overheard a customer talking with a salesperson.

“It’s as if you didn’t hear anything that I’ve said!”

That is a phrase you never want to hear a customer say and I know that interaction had gone badly. I only wish that I hadn’t been in such a rush or I would have stopped to observe more.  I moved on to the registers and was quickly out the door.  As I was getting on my bicycle, I looked up to see the customer getting in his car and driving away; empty-handed.

Bagging a bit better

IMG_0937My brother bagged groceries in high school.  He was good at it and proud of his skills.

He knew how to sort groceries coming down the belt so he could bag more efficient.  Separating the boxes from the cans, the produce from the meat, the fragile from the durable.  He knew how to build a foundation layer in the bottom of the bags so they would be stable in the car and on the kitchen counter ( back when only square bottom craft paper bags were in use). He knew how to double bag to prevent tearing and bagging meats and produce so that condensation and contamination were not an issue.  Of course, he bagged so eggs would not be broken and bread would not be crushed.

My brother’s success as a bagger led to his next position as stocker and 40 years later, he still earns a comfortable living working for a union grocery store.  But this post is not about my brother.

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Back in 3 minutes

Stopwatch_AMy wife and I were out at one of our favorite local bicycle shops on the quest for the perfect bicycle helmet for my wife’s commute.  While perusing the vast selection, several salespeople approached us offering help.  But since we were not ready for help, we politely declined.

As each turned to leave, they mentioned that there was more sizes and colors available in the basement stock area that they would be happy to retrieve for us.

After trying on dozens of helmets, the choice was narrowed down to one.  Unfortunately, the desired helmet in the size and the color we wanted was not on the shelf.  Now instead of approaching us, we went in search of a salesperson.  We quickly found one.

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The Acme Thunderer -The World's Finest Whistle

The Acme Thunderer -The World’s Finest Whistle

One advantage that athletic coaches have over sales managers is their whistle.  When an athletic coach blows the whistle, everything stops and people listen.  More than once I longed for my Acme Thunderer to get the attention of one of my employees when they were messing up on the sales floor.

Ongoing coaching is critical for the development of effective and efficient retail sale people. The ability of managers to effectively communicate with their employees about their performance is often the difference between success and failure of both the employee and the store.

With so many retailers feeling the squeeze on payroll, many store employees receive little or no training before they are set free on the sales floor to see to the needs of the customers.  With limited training, sales people are left to learn, typically through trial and error , on the floor.  With an attentive and observant manager that is willing to coach, the salesperson will develop much quicker.

That is where coaching and SBIA model come in.

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In retail history


The Hudson’s Bay Company is founded on May 2, 1670 making it the oldest commercial enterprise in North America.

Incorporated by English Royal Charter as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading onto Hudson’s Bay.  Founded as a fur trading business, HBC was once the largest landowner in the world with control of 15% of the total acreage in North America.  As such, it served as the de facto government until European states and the US laid claim.

As the fur trade dwindled in the early 1800s, HBC reinvented itself as a mercantile business establishing stores across Canada. HBC continues as a retailer today operating Hudson’s Bay, Lord & Taylor (the oldest luxury department store in North America), Saks Fifth Avenue, Home Outfitters, Gilt and Galeria Kaufhof.