Thrift Stores

by C. M. Albrecht

Thrift Store

When I was young I worked in a fast food place similar to McDo. This was inside-only service and we had to collect when served. Every time my manager passed one of us hs’d mutter: “Get the money!” He drove us crazy with that, but now, being older and wiser, I have to say he was right. We were there to make money. Here’s a quote reputedly made by a man far wiser than I am:

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption to our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

When we go into some of our local thrift stores we’re constantly faced with the same thing: a store full of workers, wandering about, clogging aisles with their wagons and generally doing little but stocking shelves (a job most stores primarily do during off hours), while a long line stands behind a yellow line waiting for a lone cashier to handle each customer, one…by….one….More than one time my wife and I have laid our potential purchases aside and walked out, unwilling to stand there while the cashier piddles with some customer over the price of an item or whatever. I wonder how many other customers do the same.

The object of all stores, aside from training etc., is — or certainly should be — to get money. I realize that most of the people wandering about on the floor may not be trained to work the cash register, but that should be an important part of  training. For us, it’s infuriating to see all this personnel, all this activity while we have to climb around aisle-clogging wagons filled with merchandise while employees push rolling hangers of clothing about, and then when we finally settle on our purchases and get to the register, STOP! Stop and wait…and wait and wait.

On the plus side, most of the employees we see are very polite and greet visitors and try to be helpful.

For us, going to thrift stores is sort of a scavenger hunt. We usually don’t know what we’re looking for, and never know what we’ll find (even if we don’t need it), but we stopped shopping at Kmart years ago because of the very same problem: aisles clogged with merchandise, unmarked merchandise and long, long waits at the register while a clerk calls out over the loudspeaker, “Price check on register three!”

We won’t stop going to thrift stores. We enjoy poking around and we almost always end up buying something. But don’t make it difficult for a customer to spend money.

And back to what I said in the beginning as I feel  my former boss’s ghost hovering above my shoulder:

“Get the money!”

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