As we go through daily life, it is truly amazing what we learn when we don’t even realize it. Seeing a mother berate a child in a store gets filed away as “I’ll never do that to my kid” or reading something online about dealing with a situation hopefully gets remembered.
This past week I had a couple of these instances where I didn’t have an intention of learning, but I did. I was just going shopping. This morning, I went to Best Buy to get the new Kid Rock CD that came out today. I knew it was coming. Wednesday is my wife’s birthday (and part of the reason for the party at the store tomorrow night) and she was thrilled that Kid came out with a new CD just for her birthday. Not wanting to forget about it, I decided to head down there on my way to work. They open at 10AM, I open at 11AM. Makes sense, right? So I get there just as they are opening the doors.
Best Buy just went through a major renovation. It was a nightmare trying to find anything while it was going on, but I understood that. No problem. But now it is done and I still couldn’t find anything. I question the decision to move everything right before your biggest sales period. I understand they want people to look around, but looking around in search of product sections is no fun. I wanted a new CD, but there was no new CD section, or at least it was not well marked. And I was actively looking for it. I broke down and asked the person who was doing the shelving, but she only knew DVDs. So someone came to ask me if I needed help. They looked it up in the computer. It said they had 30, but they couldn’t find them and could I come back later. Not cool. I made a special trip out there for that item. I am not happy that I need to go back out to get it. I am not a “have to have it the day its released” guy. Good thing, too, if this is how their new releases go.
Now, I don’t mean to slam Best Buy. I spend a lot of money there and rarely have problems. But this experience taught me a couple things and raised my eye at some others. Here is what I learned:
– Don’t do a major remodel right before your busiest selling period. Do it in the summer when people have time to adjust. You are going to get infrequent shoppers in who suddenly are adrift, not knowing where to look. And the sales people will be inundated with “Where is the …” questions rather than spending time explaining product and selling more stuff.
– Signage is hugely important. A big “New This Week” sign would have helped me greatly.
– Space is important too. I could barely get in the store because they had some displays set up near the front that a lady stopped to talk to an associate near and I could not get past them to get to where I wanted to go. Let people in the store. Don’t clutter up the entrance.
– The big box stores get their product during the week before the “On Sale” date in order to process it and get it out for sale on Tuesday for new releases. This is the same day for CDs, DVDs, video games and books. As most of you know, new comics come out on Wednesday. We hung to that day recently because we want it to be our day and not compete directly with those other categories for your shopping dollar. What struck me as odd is that after they opened, they were still stocking the shelves. I found it very strange that all of that wasn’t done before opening so that they were ready to go when the doors opened. I thought that was the whole point of getting the product in during the week before. Since I have been open, we receive the books on Wednesday and it is a mad rush to get everything checked in, sorted and out on the shelves while customers are coming in looking for the new stuff. Starting in January (the 11th, I believe), comic shops will be able to receive their books on Tuesday and put them out for sale on Wednesday. No, this doesn’t mean you can get your books on Tuesday and don’t even ask. But what it means for me is that I can process the books late Tuesday and have everything ready when I open the door on Wednesday. I can’t tell you how happy I will be about this. Wednesday is hugely stressful. Waiting for UPS to show up, getting the boxes opened and books on the shelf, getting pull file books done before customers start coming in and the phone starts ringing. The thought of processing the books without interruption and walking in Wednesday fresh and ready to go is going to be wonderful. It will make for a calm busiest day of the week for me. Heck, I’ll even be able to read the bigger or more intriguing titles and hand sell them on Wednesday rather than reading them Wednesday night along with you guys. That is why I was surprised that Best Buy wasn’t ready for their New Release Day.
I also had the opportunity to visit another comic book store this weekend. I learned a lot there, too. They have a lot of stuff. Actually, too much stuff. Losing a couple racks and tables would be a good thing. I understand being fully stocked and bursting with product, but it was overwhelming and seemingly disorganized, at least to my eye. There was a lot of, “Here’s a shelf, let’s put something on it.” rather than organized displays. Aisles were very tight. Even if I knew what I was looking for, I still would have had a problem finding it. It was a very chaotic feeling, but not in a good way. Knowing the product, I was thinking “Why do you have 4 of those and why is this next to that?” And lots of little things that I filed away as not to do and don’t let my store look like that. Maybe that’s why my wife likes to go to open houses. To see different ways to do stuff, or ways not to do stuff.
Basically, I went shopping and learned how to do things better in my store. Better signage, less clutter, more organization, good space management and be ready when the people want to give you their money. Pretty good lessons, especially with fun time about to begin.
And please, if there is ever something about the store that bugs you, please let me know. I can take it.