Once upon a time, a long long time ago (though not really) there were these wonderful places called music stores, where you’d actually have to go to a physical location and root through shelves, alphabetically, and find the artist and album (or CD, or tape) you wanted and base your purchase on the cover and track listing alone, that is unless you had prior knowledge or a cool listening station in the store as we had in the store that I worked in.. what now seems like forever ago, and a minute ago all in the same way.
At a certain point during my all too brief tenure there, I was promoted to an assistant manager which at the time I was pleased about as it was a sign that I was doing a good job and that my dedication to the regular sales position didn’t go unnoticed. As with all promotions comes added responsibility, which meant being an authority to the other employees. This was not a particular criteria of the job I was looking forward to. As someone who is very anti authority I didn’t want to be “that guy”. Fortunately I found strong footing with my co-workers in being the fun friendly wise ass I was before, and only being a hard ass when absolutely necessary (which thankfully was seldom, because everyone there was cool).
So on to my story… one week we get a big delivery of one particular title, and it was way too many. Basically we shouldn’t have received an additional box of something (and when I say box I mean upwards of 100 pieces of the same exact title). For the life of me I can’t remember who the artist was or what the title was, as it was some rap crap that I didn’t give a damn about therefore it was easy to forget. But I remember my boss being on the phone with the corporate office (aka The Bastards That Be) saying how “we weren’t suppose to receive all this, you can’t expect us to sell all of this (to make the certain numbers we were expected to keep), why can’t we send it back? blah, blah, blah”. In the end we were stuck with a box of merchandise that we were “expected” to move.
The next day when I’m mining the store with two other associates, I explain the situation and came up with what I thought was a great a idea; “Whoever sells the most of this title by the end of the sales quarter will get $20 from me!”.
It was a gimmick, it was a game. A game to not only attempt to move at least some of the product, but also to encourage healthy competition amongst out little team. And how could that be bad! It was their business about how to go about it, they’d have to take the initiative. And as I recall they came up with some interesting ideas in terms of up-selling and hanging signs. A few other things that now escape me. But it was great, and I’d keep written track of each one’s they sold and tally them up. Sure I’d be out 20 bucks in the end, but you know what I didn’t care. In those days I would have just blown it on beer or something stupid for my car anyway. It was a one shot deal that was buying me and the staff a little joy in the job. I knew I was into something good with my people. And while there was the quite knowing that everyone was against each other, ultimately they were all in it together and you could feel the energy. That made it totally worth it.
This lasted two days… until my boss came back from his days off and caught wind of what was going on. Thinking he’s be impressed that we all cooked up an energized solution to our little dilemma was extinguished by the look on his face.. that of being upstaged. We had a “discussion” in the back room which was just a ridiculous difference of opinion where he felt I was trying to buy my end of the “good boss” role.. not only with the sales associates but also with corporate once they found out what was going on. And how it wasn’t right for me to put him in the position of “un-fun” by not shelling out money, which he couldn’t even spare financially at that time anyway. Being a little older than me and having more advanced financial responsibilities that I had yet to experience, I began to comprehend. But this wasn’t a heated discussion by any means. If anything the underlying truth was that the guy felt hurt. Based on that, I did begin to see it from his perspective and I know that it was a combination of jealousy and the lack of resources that wouldn’t have even allowed him to do the same thing.
It’s funny, I honestly had no agenda in terms of being anyone’s favorite based on those actions. Hell, I was their favorite already :) But I certainly wasn’t setting out to make my boss look bad. I’d never have wanted to do that, because he was cool guy too. And I wasn’t at all thinking in terms of corporate praise as far as my role in this “game” personally. If praise was going to come down from corporate I wanted it to be for the store, for the sales team, the one’s who moved the product. That’s all I was thinking about when this crazy scheme came my way. Corporate didn’t even need to know the “how” we sold them, just that we did it.
But in the end, we didn’t. The game got scrapped as we agreed it was too biased. The politics of professionals I guess. I still wonder how that would have turned out? All I know is if it had been MY music store, the game would have been played. Then again, I wouldn’t have order too many of something :)