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How to Solve the Unemployment Crisis – Hire People

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How to Solve the Unemployment Crisis – Hire People

Just back from another exciting adventure in bricks and mortar retail shopping. I went to the usual suspects, Office Depot, Petco, Home Depot and Staples and guess what, save for one item on my list, all my money came back home with me. My one purchase? Dog food at Petco. Where after standing around at the cash register for what seemed like days, I finally knocked on the office manager’s door and asked her to come out and ring me up. Where was the lone employee on the floor? In the back cleaning out fish tanks.

Seeking some envelopes, I stood around in the printing department at Office Depot without being acknowledged and finally gave up and drove to Staples. Their employee advised me to get back in my car, drive home and order what I wanted from their web site.

When your customers have to beg you take their money, maybe that’s a sign you’ve have cut the employee count too much. When your employees urge your customers to drive home to shop, maybe that’ s a sign that you should improve your training.

I can drive a Zamboni down the aisles of Home Depot and not hit an employee and I live in Atlanta, the home of their corporate headquarters. In fact I will wager a bet that the 8,400 square feet Apple store at the nearby mall has more employees on the floor right now than the 100,000 square foot Home Depot store down the street. And this dismal employee count isn’t limited to big box retailers and discounters. If I can get that Zamboni up the escalator at Neiman Marcus in Lenox Mall I can drive it down the designer floor and not see a soul, although I may completely take out Dolce & Gabbana. You see, a few years ago they forced out all of their older, experienced, and presumably more expensive saleswomen who actually knew something. I am so tired of driving to Barnes & Noble, Best Buy; you “fill in the blank” and coming home empty-handed.

Retail stores don’t get it. They have the one weapon that online retail will never have – face-to-face, living, breathing human beings. Who, if they are correctly trained, supervised and rewarded, will care about the company, know their products and provide excellent customer service. Examples: Apple, Nordstrom or Lowes.

Everyone dreads online support. In fact, just finding a phone number on a retail website is a daunting cat and mouse game, because let’s face, it they really don’t want to you to call them. Oh, you can wait in a queue for an online chat, but that’s not real customer service. So why aren’t retail stores stepping up their game? Rocket science it ain’t.

So dear retailer, here’s my solution to the unemployment crises.  Hire some people.  Don’t view your retail employees as a necessary inconvenience.  Train them on what you sell, how to sell it and how to engage the customer so that they will come back. Pay them a decent amount of money based on sales and service. Just think how much more money you can make if you actually have people in your store to sell your stuff.  To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite movies, Miracle on 34th Street. “We’ll be known as ‘The Helpful Store.’ ‘The Friendly Store.’ ‘The Store With a Heart.’ And consequently we’ll make more profits than ever before.”

Now excuse me while I go online and find those envelopes.


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  1. Can I ride with you on that Zamboni at NM? (My husband did at a Chicago Black Hawks fame once)I just want to count the hats as we breeze along.

    The lack of personal attention in big box stores is a sad evolution in retailing. I did find great attention in the Frango candy department of the State St Macy’s (Still wanting to call it Marshall Fields), and linen dept this week. Great attention at the Glenview Von Maur store for a dress as mother of the groom, and our local Jewel food store, facing serious competition from the always attentive Heinens, and another new competitor, Mariano’s.

    Hope you found those envelopes. What else are you hoping to find this week? Perhaps you can call ahead and they can bring it out to you car. They do that now online order at the Sears store in Chicago at Milwaukee and Iriving. Now that is customer service!

  2. Thank you for voicing the frustration so many of us daily endure. Yes, there are retail stores that do offer great customer service, but that has to be reflected on the price tag. It seems the vox populii has spoken though. Most folks in these economic hard times are price driven today. Quality and service as a business model is risky. Why the bleeding edge profit margins on big box high volume stores is killing the little guy. Am I guilty myself? Sadly yes. Will I buy that roll of “scotch” tape from Main Street Stationery for $3.49 or get it from W*****t for $1.79? As well, in the ridiculously overtaxed country of canada, run by criminals, (a walloping 14% retail tax), this salt in the wound makes the choice more difficult.

  3. Recovery? Recovery? Did someone say there has been an economic recovery? Remember the old days when you couldn’t pull all your packages through the food area at Lenox for all the diners, shoppers, and people watchers? Rant or truth session, we feel you sister!,

  4. Bravo on a very well written and meaningful blog Madge! I couldn’t have said it better myself. What on earth are they thinking? I can tell you: bottom dollar. I worked retail for years. They cut from the bottom up. No one to work, and they work them like dogs. Its a shame, but its true.

  5. Perfectly Stated !
    I had to use self service gas tonight because there was no employees working at the station that has full serve, so they were closed?
    As always I soooo enjoyed the interesting read

  6. I couldn’t have voiced this better if I tried. Whatever happened to customer service? When the stores, the companies, the factories stopped caring about their workers, the workers returned the favor.. And who suffers? we do, the customers…

  7. Hurrah! You have voiced what I’m sure 1,000’s of frustrated shoppers are feeling. If one more clerk urges me to learn to use the self checkout at the grocery store I’m going to scream. My bank has installed iPads at every teller window so they can teach us how to do banking online and through the versateller. Thanks for a great read. And good luck finding those envelopes. If you don’t, let me know and I’ll find a box at the next estate sale I go to.

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