May 19, 2010 by Kat Richter
Tomorrow is going to be a big day at The Shop. Corporate is coming. As so are the company’s investors, which means that the future of The Shop (and all Associated Shops) lies in our hands. At least, that is what Head Boss told me, which would explain why we’re no longer having friendly conversations about the perils of online dating. In fact, Head Boss has outlawed friendly conversations of any kind. Given that her boss, the Head Head Boss, broke the news of the Corporate/Investor visit with a particularly ominous “Don’t you dare embarrass me!” I can’t say that a blame her.
It’s been all hands on deck since Monday. We may be a ghettofabulous shop, but we are also a “high volume” shop. As such, the Head Head Boss is determined to camouflage our ghettofabulous-ness with a face lift, courtesy of The Shop’s All-Star Team, which comprises of Head Bosses from across the tri-state area and, as I have since come to learn, All-Star Associates from Store #1.
Store #1 is in New Jersey. A nice part of New Jersey, where customers don’t defecate in the aisles (and believe it or not, this is one the few instances where I am not exaggerating). Thanks to their cushy surroundings, Store #1 employees fancy themselves superior to us So’ Philly Sales Associates. And I know this because they arrived en masse this past Monday to “whip us into shape.”
As Front End Specialist, I appointed myself Goodwill Ambassador of Our Shop. I smiled warmly at the visiting associates, ignorant of their auspicious origins but ready to direct them to the break room, the restroom or the wonderfully scenic views afforded by the Wal-mart parking lot, but they did not smile back.
“Which store are you from?” I inquired of a young, polo-shirted man, who was actively Looking Important just outside the cash office.
“Store One!” he replied, rather indignantly, as though he couldn’t believe I didn’t know.
Well now, I thought: two can play this game. “Where’s that?” I asked coyly, the very picture of innocence (and ignorance, evidently, to the vast superiority of Store #1).
I was informed that it was in New Jersey. A nice part of New Jersey. Which, as I’ve already said, caters to customers who can discern the difference between the bathrooms and the sales floor.
Thanks to the All-Star team, the Clearance Section was gone by noon. In its place stood a colorful display of metal signs reading, “Free beer here! (Tomorrow Only)” and “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere.” The seasonal floral aisle was wiped out, vacuumed within an inch of its life and replaced with a three-tiered shelf of plaster columns and lawn ornaments.
Scrapbooking has been totally re-set. Glassware has undergone a complete overhaul and, though it pains me greatly to say this, The Shop looks pretty nice right now. In fact, if you’re one of the select few who know The Shop’s true identity (and location), I would go so far as to recommend that you come in for a visit.
Oh dear. Did I just recommend The Shop? I think I did. But don’t worry; it’s all part of my Master Plan.
You see, to keep myself from going off the deep end, I read a lot of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella novels in the break room. Invariably, their heroines are single, twenty-something girls who are, admittedly, a bit down on their luck but oh-so-charming, not to mention resourceful (do you see where I’m going with this?). They’re also clever, sexy and perennially in the right place at the right time so they always end up with promotions, rich boyfriends (who are also sexy and clever) and great shoes. Sometimes Marian and Sophie even throw a book deal into the mix.
Whenever The Shop is due for an audit (which happens once a month since we’re high volume), Head Boss quizzes us on the three steps to Superior Customer Service, the secret code for suspicious activity, the business ethics hotline and something called “shrink.” I had never heard of shrink until my first Sales Associate huddle. “What are the three reasons for shrink?” Head Boss demanded.
“Internal, external and paperwork!” everyone replied in unison. Everyone except me, that is.
“The auditor could come any minute!” Head Boss cried, “You need to know this Kat, because if you don’t, and he asks you, we could lose an audit point! Write the answers down on the back of your nametag if you have to!” I didn’t have to. I quickly memorized the reasons for shrink, the shrink number (both percentage and dollar amount) and the five shrink “Hot Spots” where customers are most likely to steal—but for all of my efforts, I’ve never been called into the office to speak to the auditor.
This is where my Master Plan comes into play. Tomorrow, when Corporate and The Investors are roaming through The Shop, I’m going to be the best Frond End Specialist/Cash Office Nazi that I have ever been. I’m going to wear my earring that match the company logo, and since a visit from Corporate counts as a Special Occasion, I’m going to paint my nails to match too. And if I get called into the office, I’m going to rattle off the three reasons for shrink with such eloquence that The Investors will say, “Wow! Give this girl a job!” And I will tell them, “Well gentlemen, I already have a job. What I want is a promotion, and a boyfriend and great shoes.”
“What did you have in mind?” they will ask.
“Stilettos” I’ll say.
“We weren’t talking about the shoes,” they’ll stammer (but of course I’ll already know this, I’m just being charming and clever and sexy, like a proper chick lit heroine).
“What sort of promotion?”
“Funny you should ask,” I’ll reply, and being the resourceful girl that I am, I’ll whip out a PowerPoint presentation on a new marketing campaign, involving lots of buzzwords like “social networking” and “electronic media.” The linchpin of this campaign will of course be a blog, in which a single, twenty-something girl writes about her love of The Shop. She will devote an entire section to customers of the “Splendid” Sally variety. She will regale readers with tales of romance at the register, scrapbooking tips and humorous anecdotes about her co-workers. Best of all, she’ll review new products, such as—get this!— a machine that actually cuts shapes from sheets of cake icing!
“It’s called the Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter,” she’ll write. “The Cricut line was originally designed for scrapbooking (you buy cartridges with different shapes, plug them into your Cricut die cut machine, load your cardstock and presto! Perfect Christmas trees at the touch of a button!), but now you can buy cake-theme cartridges and flavored sheets of cake icing too.”
She’ll conclude with a sales pitch, but it will be so charming and clever and sexy that her readers won’t mind and she’ll even provide a link, with photographs, of the featured product (like this: http://www.cricut.com/shop/#3/67/0/7/CricutCake/)
The investors will be amazed by the marketing potential of my blog. So amazed, in fact, thay they’ll give me a promotion (more than 2% this time), my own office and weekends off. And it will just so happen that I’ll “accidentally” drop one of my new business cards on the way out, the ones that say “Kat Richter, MA, Freelance Writer and Dance Educator.” A young and appropriately handsome investor will find it, and he’ll call me under the pretence of “talking business” but since he is clever and sexy too, I know we’ll do more than just talk.
We’ll go out for drinks, and I’ll find out that his sister is a literary agent, and that his other sister works for a fashion magazine, and that they get all sorts of free shoes for the fashion shoots but there’s no in the office who’s a size 9.5 so they have a whole shelf of gorgeous stilettos just waiting to be loved. Also, they need a new travel writer…
And everyone will live happily ever after.