on business models, boy toys, sirens, and santa …

Last night I went out to the local Target to pick up some toys to for our school's annual winter toy drive.  We usually have an abundance of toys for very young children and things that a fourth or fifth grade girl might like, but we often don't seem to have many toys that a fourth or fifth grade boy might enjoy.  With that in mind I picked up an NFL junior sized football and a really nice Frisbee.  Upon checkout, my tab was about 30% higher than I had expected as the football was ringing up for $19.99 rather than the $9.99 listed on the shelf sign (As you can see from the picture here I, apparently, had the wrong product, but I totally promise that I didn't do it on purpose and I really thought that, I had the sale item!!!). The clerk called for a price check and we waited and waited and nobody came.  Finally, after I told her that it was for a toy drive, she went ahead and quietly rang it up for $9.99 and quietly wished me a happy holiday. She was really great!

Since I was already parked, I wandered across the parking lot to the Ross Dress for Less store.  Now, as a bargain hunting (that would be "cheap") kind of guy I LOVE Ross, but they sure do have a rather upside down business model.  I've never been a fan of the house slipper set at all (basically they are hideous), but I have come to discover that hardwood and tile flooring is very cold during the winter months.  Anyway, I found these house slippers that I decided I needed for the low, low price of $7.99 and I got in line.  I was about the fifth person in the first come, first served purchasing line.  There were three clerks ringing up purchases and one clerk taking returns from a separate line.  After a while, two of the purchasing clerks were pulled to put stock that had been returned back on the shelves.  This left one clerk doing purchases and one clerk taking returns.  The purchasing line, at that point, grew to easily be twenty customers long.  Now, I know that part of the reason I can buy house slippers for $7.99 is that I'm going to have to forgo top flight customer service, but it just seems that on the most basic level of business during these tough economic times shouldn't you make it as easy as possible for people to actually spend money in your store?  The model that, that particular Ross store was employing was having people return merchandise at the same rate that they were selling it.  I just didn't get the point … Though my house slippers are quite comfy so I'm not complaining TOO much …

Finally, I got back to my truck and as I pulled out of the parking lot a slow motion blur of sirens and flashing lights moved by and … IT WAS SANTA!!!   Santa was on a trailer being towed by a big black D.A.R.E truck being escorted by police cruisers in front and back. It made me smile and I though, "Oh how cute …"

The traffic, reluctant to pass the flashing lights of the police cruisers, followed behind in a big parade.  Honestly, it was kind of fun to be part of the Santa parade, but then a third siren could be heard and everybody got confused as hell. Flashing lights came up behind our mini parade and the driver honked his very loud fire department horn, but the other drivers in our parade apparently thought that it was just the end of the procession so they neither pulled over nor would pass the Santa escorts so, effectively, we all just blocked the road.  What turned out to be a real fire truck and ambulance responding to a real emergency ended up having to drive up the street against traffic on the divided roadway to get to their emergency all because Santa was being towed by a D.A.R.E truck. Bah humbug …

Anyway, I'm sure that's pretty boring, but it's really quiet and quite boring here in the library as we tick the seconds away before we start our winter break at 3:05pm this afternoon!!!  Yahoo!!!!!!! 



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