Re Tales – Part Seven – The Sale

Every shop has a sale some time. Not the regular sales over the counter of everyday commerce – a SALE that involves vast quantities – of many different things:

a. Time. Even a small impromptu sale that the owner thinks up the last minute before going on holiday involves days and hours of preparation, conduct, and accounting. Fortunately they are on holiday and have left their phone at home. The staff will cope…

b. Advertising. No good trying to get more customers in the door if they do not know where the door is or why they might want to come in. So the retailer spends money with the newspapers, phone book company, on-line IT experts ( the ones that are out of the asylum that week ) and leaflet distributors. The richer retailers use radio and television to blow the trumpet – the more frugal ones just buy trumpets and blow them themselves. 3:00 AM in the car park of the shopping centre is a trying time…

c. Preparation. Re-tagging all the sale stock is a pain. Particularly if you need to re-re-tag it after it hasn’t sold. And you need to be accurate in your pricing. ” Whatever ” is not a price tag that will make a profit for the shop.

Beware of customers who shift full-price stock into the sales bins and then magically ” find ” it and rush to the till. They will then demand to have it for an imaginary price, quoting God and Magna Carta as justification. It is best to have a short club handy.

d. Staff. No-one can stand sales pressure on their own so the wise manager will arrange for extra staff to be present. They may be rostered in on a schedule or just thrown in willy-nilly as the fatalities occur. Warn them that normal meal, break and toilet amenities are suspended for the sale period – if necessary quote Magna Carta. With a bit of luck this regime will seem natural and can be extended to the rest of the year.

e. Old unsalable stock. This is the core of the sale – after all, if it all went out regularly, there would be no need for all the other extra work. Old unsalable stock may be perfectly good, but so far no-one outside of the store’s buyer and the wholesaler have ever thought so. Now is the time to convince others by lowering the price.

Make no mistake about it. People will spend money and buy anything if they think it is a screaming bargain. Discount death and give vouchers for subsequent deaths and people will line up to pay. This is the principle of a great many school holiday motion picture series.

If you have no junk to sell, contact the wholesalers and ask them to take you out to a long lunch and get you drunk. You’ll eventually wake up with loose clothing and a warehouse full of broken cartons of stock from 2003.

f. Accountancy. No matter what you get for the schmatta, you’ll still have to do the paperwork to write it off. A successful sale pays for the accountant’s time – really successful ones are where you trade old stock to the accountant instead of a fee.