May 19, 2010

A Wild Hair

Working as cashier during the night shift at Barnes and Noble includes "recovering" the cashier area, bargain books, gifts, and the journal wall. One of my favorite things at B&N are its journals; I've bought many as gifts over the years, and sitting next to my bed, between two sapphire blue alabaster "egg" bookends I bought at another B&N are four journals, all variations in coloration of a paisley journal trimmed in brown leather. But I digress...

We close at ten in the evening Monday through Thursday, and last night, because customers were sparse, I was also stocking journal and gift items, realizing anew how crowded and uninviting our journal wall looked. My view is that more can often be less - and look cheap - and showcasing is a better way of setting something off than crowding. Some of our journals are absolutely gorgeous, but it can be daunting to browse that section in our store; there are so many items on each shelf that it's not only hard to see what you want, but to get to it you might knock something else off the shelf or need to move several other somethings...but where to put them?

In other words, I don't think shopping our journals puts customers in a relaxed - hence - shopping frame of mind. Instead it can be such a chore to seek out and find just the right journal that I think we aren't serving our customers as well as we should. And I wanted to fix it.

So I mentioned to Linda, the manager closing the store last night, that I thought the area needed some work. Had I glanced at my watch, I'd have realized it was already 9:50 and not the best time to start a project, but she gamely started working one bay and I started working the others. In-between I checked out a few customers, and sometime later she asked me if we were other words, was the store empty of customers. At that point I looked at my watch again and realized it was 10:10. I'd gotten so caught up in what I was doing that I didn't notice the store was past closing and here I was, with journals all over the floor and counter when I should have been doing my assigned recovery. I made a personal executive decision to finish what I'd begun, and worked like a whirling dervish over the next half hour on the three other bays, and when I was done, several stacks of excess product were ready to be put into overstock. Instead of having a dozen small black leather "envelope style" journals shelved, now there were a more manageable handful. And if I could have pulled entirely the 40th anniversary Woodstock journals ordered for the previous year, I would have. Apparently gift items can't be returned, so they remain, cluttering up the shelves.

The rules require that we not [re]shelve single journals, and further, that other than the full bay devoted to the most expensive hand-tooled leather journals, journals are to be shelved by color. Much of which makes sense except that some of our journals tend to be pretty specific, like the "List" journals, which before last night were spread out so that the blue "List" journal was with the other blue journals, the green "List" journal was with the other green journals, and so on. When I envision myself as a customer looking for a "List" journal, I know I'd rather see all five on the same shelf rather than spread out among three bays on eighteen shelves. And so I made another executive decision and shelved them like that. It's quite possible that when I work again tomorrow night that the "List" journal shelf will have disappeared, but by the time Linda, Jeff, and I gathered up all the excess last night and put them in overstock, I was satisfied that the entire area looked better. It's still too crowded, but as far as wild hairs go, this one was pretty successful. I'd like to think Linda agreed.


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