Sunday, June 28, 2009

Don't touch

A man and his son came in the store and the father was doing a very good job of stopping his six-year-old son from touching anything. I appreciate it very much when people take responsibility for their children but after a while this guy was getting on my nerves. He hovered over the little guy like a force field, moving things, pushing hands away, blocking with his body to the point the little guy can get no enjoyment at all out of all the colorful things. Finally dad makes a quick turn and his fanny pack knocks a wooden sculpture off the shelf. I walked over and said to the dad, in the same tone as he had been using, "look with your eyes not with your butt." The little guy almost peed himself with laughter. He was a smart cookie. I think I made a friend for life. Dad wasn't as impressed but he took it well enough. I wish I was a fly on the wall at that dinner table that night.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One phone line blues

Imagine a situation in which you are talking to your Mom or your brother or spouse and a person anxious to give you money is waving a visa card: it's the one phone line blues. We're way to cheap to spring for another line and until we do we must rudely cut off any conversation when a sale is pending. The phone line is required to complete the transaction. As any good retailer knows you get the money when the gettin's good; never give them time to change their minds. Most of our friends and family know and accept this as I have more than once hung up on them if the sale was big enough to demand all of my attention. I have to admit to some satisfaction in doing this. In the name of service (not to mention profit) I am allowed to be rude, if only sparingly, to almost everyone I know, with impunity. Sweet. Maybe it's why I can be jovial most of the time. The customers are often surprised at the speed we will snag their visa card while hanging up the phone before the "gotta go" gets all the way out. People appreciate being more important than the phone but actually it's their money... Oh well..gotta go..

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sum Sum Summertime

Although the rain is pelting down today summertime is here. I can tell by all the strange faces in the store and by the size of my wallet. Apologies to my peers who are out there suffering a recession but here we have the good fortune to be sitting on millions of barrels of oil and are the "it" location these days as a unique and not too expensive destination in North America. Living in one of the poorest places north of the 49th that has suddenly become a wealthy one makes for an interesting transition. We have fresh produce in our supermarkets; the only things that will grow on our boggy soil are turnips, cabbage and carrots. Of course when you get to the cash with your eggplant, avocado and leeks no one has any idea what they are. By far the best benefit is good coffee. There was a day when in the center of your table at the restaurant was three jars: one with instant coffee, one with sweetener and another with coffee whitener and the server would simply pour you a cup of hot water. Now I can spend 5 bucks on a coffee in pretentious surroundings and 4 bucks on a muffin just like everybody else. Luckily we have maintained our authenticity (nothing has changed around the bay) and travellers can get a good look at places that are still stuck in time, full of friendly hard working people who unfortunately still drink instant coffee. Every year we are off the Kraft Dinner and homemade wine earlier so as my summer heats up I salute you all and wish for a great season.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where Did That Come From

You may have asked yourself what the previous cartoon was doing in a retail blog.

I bumped into an acquaintance the other day and I wondered why he wasn't at work. Sick day he replied. He wasn't sick. He was on the golf course. Apparently he is allowed 23 sick days a year and if he doesn't use them he loses them. I always thought a sick day meant you were sick but according to his shop steward they are just days off, he gets them whether he was sick or not. Well there goes the gross national product. I believe all people deserve a fair wage, good benefits and safe working conditions. As a matter of fact I pay people more than the minimum required but as a fiercely self employed entrepreneur it makes me angry when a hard fought union demand for fair treatment of sick people becomes another excuse for laziness. The founders of the workers rights movement would fire every one of these idiots who think they are owed something for nothing. I don't think Woodie Guthrie would have written a song for them.

I think every generation makes the same observation about the generation that follows but this time we are right.

Unionizing the Worlds Oldest Profession

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The toy story begins

A lady stood before me today with an item for refund. It was a toy, the fabulous diabolo, which has been feeding us well this spring. I've never been on the front lines of a fad but hope to be there all the time. Money was flying from all directions but the reverse side of sales is refunds and when a lot of any item sells you can count on a percentage of people who will want to bring the item back. The toy the lady wanted to return was about 6 weeks old and obviously played with constantly; a bolt was loose and it was coming apart. I tightened the bolt but the lady still wanted her money back because the diabolo, a yo yo like toy, might come apart and someone could get hurt. It's rubber with an aluminium axle. In order for someone to get hurt by it you would have to stuff it into a cannon with a bunch of shot. She assured me her son was not the type of boy who would maliciously loosen a bolt. All of the kids take the diabolo apart and exchange parts but not this boy; he was a good boy who might get hurt. I looked into her doe like eyes and felt an immediate pain for the poor sad boy who had to suffer this overzealous, overprotective and annoying woman. "Ma'am," I said, " he is a boy and there will be blood. Stop being paranoid, if your son can not handle the dangers of a federally approved rubber toy his chances in the big world are zero." There was a moment of silence. "Perhaps you are right."she said. I had to give her the money back. That kind of self awareness has to be rewarded. I still feel sorry for the kid but at least there is hope.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Electric Money

In the modern world it does not matter how much money you have if the power is out; you can't get at it so your as poor as the next guy. Most transactions now require electricity to move some numbers from one place to another, consequently when the power goes out, especially on a busy day, pandemonium ensues. I need every dollar I can swipe into my POP machine and the thought of losing even one makes me as antsy as Pinocchio at a toothpick carving contest. The solution, of course, is a gas powered generator in the basement. The partners have resisted but they were not there the afternoon I had them six deep impatiently waving visa cards and the power suddenly went out. I ended up just writing down the customers card numbers and hand entering them later which worked out great. Some people were a bit leery, as if writing the number down was suspicious but printing on a machine was on the up and up. What can you say, people are afraid to use their cards online but have no problem handing to a criminal adolescent at a pizza joint. I could have lost a few bucks but all the cards came back authorized; still, I'd love that generator, nothing like a few exhaust fumes to make people part with their money and in the skinny times of winter I could be bolder with the power company when they call to collect. I guess I'm just a boy scout, always prepared.