Saturday, July 18, 2009
A LONG TIME IN COMING
Well, indeed, it has been a long time since I posted something here. But running out of disability and down to fourteen weeks of unemployment is pretty damn scary. But with great friends like Tim Doran and Tony Westbrook and of course Almighty God, I may get through this. Tim Doran has been so terrific. He sends me all the Craig's List stuff that he finds and I respond to just about 95% of them. I have even applied at Disneyland. Now that would be a hoot! I have now begun a campaign of submitting to just about anything that I qualify for. I turn 62 on September 24th and could actually "retire" and get about $1400 a month from the government which is the equal of unemployment insurance. Then I could get a part time job and earn about six thousand dollars more a year. Hell, I could be a Wall Mart greeter-- what the hell would that require? I am such a great salesman! And who would ever predict that Ritz Camera-- the largest camera retail chain in the entire world would collapse so suddenly and so totally. Back in March of 2008 they still had over a thousand stores. In January of 2007 they had eleven hundred and eighty stores. Their big mistake was that they simply never listened to we store managers. These guys were the experts! Huh! I gave them so many wonderful ideas. They had gift cards already in place in values from $10 to $100 each. I told them get these cards out into super markets, drug stores, everywhere. People would have bought them creating instant cash flow or as I like to call it "Found Money" I suggested that they get together with Hallmark cards and create combination camera and card shops. I know from whence I speak. I ran one of these in Goleta, Ca in the 1970's just before my mother died. When I didn't do well in cameras, I did excellent in Halmark products. Trust me when i tell you that to this very day, not a soul on earth, not the cheapest guy on the planet will walk into a Hallmark card store and ask for a discount. It just doesn't happen. Hallmark today offers discounts with a membership card, but it must be obtained by earning points with purchases. There's just something unique about that brand name. I was working in a Ritz store in Studio City, Ca that was actually earning over a million dollars a year. Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and Riverside (they owned the building on that one-- no rent!) were more million dollar a year stores. What sunk Ritz was too many chiefs and not enough good earning Indians-- that and a little venture of theirs called Boater's World. One hundred and thirty ones store selling boating supplies! And six of them were actually selling boats! In this economy? They had a little membership card that they sold to the public for $15.95. What did it get you? A little discount here, a lower price there-- it was almost pure profit. They gave us associates $3.00 to sell the damn thing-- that amount should have been $5.00 minimum. I never seemed to get any holidays off, but I didn't care too much-- because John, my partner usually had to work that day as well. One Memorial Day back in 2007, I actually made $11,500 in sales all by myself-- and there were two other associates working that day. So I am sorry to see Ritz go because I could have retired with them, but I am not giving up. With God as my help and good people like Tim and Tony and my John, I am going to beat this thing if it kills me! Dear Ritz Camera-- how sad that you didn't listen. I even offered (and actually recorded professionally a jingle you could have used FREE. My first district manager Darius Jameson used to chide me because he thought I was trying to use "Mom and Pop store" business philosophy on a major corporation in coming up with ideas-- you know what, "mom and pop" ain't bad-- especially if the customer perceives it as value--and I'm telling you it would have worked. Why didn't you go public while you could? Instead of opening new stores you were trying to OWN, why didn't you sell franchises-- do you think Seven-Eleven needs to OWN their stores? You dropped the ball, kids. You went into the boating business because you needed write-offs. Why weren't you in the portrait business instead? Why weren't you buying cheap buildings and turning them into camera stores? Camera stores that you wouldn't have been paying incredible rents for? Instead of going into expensive malls where they not only got rent, they got a percentage of your business-- and they told you when you had to open and when you had to close! You trashed a business in existence since 1918. I was there when you guys took over your first West Coast stores in July of 1980! I still remember the seven key executives from Beltsville, Maryland that all were trying to run a camera chain their own way. There were seven talking heads and seven different opinions. Years later, I managed a store for them in Sherman Oaks where the rug had never been replaced in ten years and had a cash register so from the past that it broke down continually. They even had free printing equipment from Xerox Corporation at every store! -- who did that to rocket fire the new imaging business. Oh my! Well, too bad. There were so many of us who worked so hard for you! You just didn't listen to us! Happy Birthday to the late great Red Skelton-- one of my all time favorites and a great big nod of respect to Walter Cronkite-- his passing at ninety-two is the end of an age. What an amazing life he had! And dear Michael Jackson, I hope that you can finally rest in peace and can sing for the angels-- Lord knows they need it.