Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Getting it Right

Whenever I walk into a game/hobby store, I am always looking for certain things. Not just products, but also the manner in which they assist me, offer assistance, or outright ignore my presence until the moment I step up to the register with cash in hand.

Back in 2001, I switched from Games Workshop Trade Sales to Games Workshop Retail, due to my then-wife wanting to move back to California. Games Workshop was kind enough to give me a chance to earn a position as a retail store manager, so that I could maintain my employment with the company I loved.

It all worked out, I spent a couple of months as a retail store employee, learning the ropes, and mastering what I needed to in order to become a store manager. Everyone was happy, as was I, even though I went from having a 5 day a week work week, to six and seven days a week, with nary a holiday in sight.

What I learned as a GW Retail employee as stayed with me, literally, ever since. I submit exhibit 1 into evidence.

This is the "10 Commandments of Retail" card I was issued when I first walked into my new experience as a retail employee of Games Workshop. Exhibit 2 is more revealing.
The flash makes the last one difficult to see, but it reads "Show Courtesy."

At the time, as I do not know if this still the case (the local GW shop closed after about 6 months due to weird store hours meaning no customers. It was very strange), employees could expect to be randomly quizzed on these 10 Commandments of Retail at any time, from anyone.

Upon close inspection, none of these are sinister or evil, instead they each indicate an expectation on the part of an employee, in fact this could be an employee of any retail outlet in any part of the world.

Unfortunately, far too many "workers" in retail stores are either gamers first or "counter jockeys" who stand, but usually sit, behind the register counter, and passive await someone who insists on spending money in their store.

Many stores I have entered failed, badly, at fulfilling #8, to the detriment of my future enjoyment of food and the destruction of my sinuses. Others cannot even get #1 right, ignoring me the entire time I am in the store.

Usually, if a store manages to get over half of these right, I will spend cash on their products, as a way to reward them for their professionalism. If they do not get any right, I do not spend my money and I never return to it.

I did well as a retail manager, but my store was in a very high costing area, and I had to commute 3 hours a day, one way, to work. It was stressful and affecting my health. A year later, when I was promoted to regional manager, meaning I had to visit three stores, spread out over 200 miles of driving a month, for no additional pay, including no funds for my extra travel, then I gave my notice. I just could not afford to do the job they required of me and I did not wait until I went bankrupt to inform them of such.

As things turned out, within two years I would have quit anyways, due to how they transitioned from Glen Burnie, Maryland, to their new U.S. Headquarters, wherever that is. Don't get me wrong, I loved working for Games Workshop, in spite of the stress, but I felt my friends and co-workers were treated rather poorly by the UK management at the time, which has since changed greatly for the better.

In these years since, my training and experience as a Retail employee and manager has stayed with me I have high and not unreasonable expectations from game and hobby stores that I visit. If you want for me to spend any money in your store, I'd better be greeted when I enter, your staff had best not smell like a locker room, when I ask questions about products you carry, then you need to know the answers or be able to get the answers quickly, and you should not talk down any products, even those you do not carry.

I cannot tell you how many times I've walked into a store and heard store employees trashing products, even ones featured on their shelves. If a product is not any good, do not carry it in the store. If you do not carry an item, don't slag off on it. Promote what you do carry and be positive with your customers.

Getting it right in retail has its own financial rewards.

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