Our Town – December 4, 2014

The Soupster overhears secrets of the retail trade.

The Soupster overhears secrets of the retail trade.

It’s a habit of Our Town’s residents to show great patience while waiting in a line at the supermarket, airport or the bank – especially if they can listen in on the conversation that the person in front of them is having with the person behind the counter.

In this case, the person in line in front of the Soupster was Carrie Greenough, one of the most successful merchants in town, taking a breather from her own busy gear store and out shopping local for holiday gifts at the clothing store. Behind the counter, rookie store owner Eugene “Kid” Gulliver was not completely unnervous. Carrie was a local retail legend.

“Retail is like show business,” Carrie counseled Kid. “When you put on a big sale, it’s like you’re putting on a performance.  And Black Friday is like Sweeps Week or the Emmys!”

“Wow,” Kid managed to extract.

“It’s all show business,” Carrie said. “How can I explain it to you? Maybe I’ll try this joke.”

The Soupster tilted forward onto the balls of his feet and was very quiet.

“Kid,” Carrie said. “Have you ever heard about the guy who was selling radios for less than it cost to buy them in the first place?”

“Yeah,” Carrie continued without waiting for an answer. “This guy is shopping in this electronics store and he sees these beautiful radios for $12.  So, he says to the store owner, `These are beautiful radios for only $12. How much does it cost you to get them?’ `$14.50,’ the owner says. `You’re selling these radios for less than you paid for them?’ says the customer. `How do you make any money?’

“`I make it up in volume,’ says the store owner. Get it, Kid?”

“I got it,” Kid said, smiling broadly.

“Or, here’s another old chestnut,” said Carrie.

“The customer goes into another electronics store and sees the same radio for $12,” Carrie said. “He goes to the owner and says, `Beautiful radios, I’ll take one.’ The store owner says, `I’m sorry, I’m sold out of them right now.’

“Well, the customer goes to yet another other electronics store. He sees the exact same radio selling for $20. So, the customer says, `How come these radios cost $20? They’re selling for $12 at the other store.’
`So go there and buy one,’ the store owner says. `They’re sold out of them,’ says the customer.

“`Well, if I was sold out of ‘em, I’d sell ‘em for $12, too.’”

Kid roared with laughter and slapped Carrie with a high five. “You see, Kid? Show business!”

The Soupster could keep quiet no longer. “I don’t understand either of those stories,” he said.



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