Retailing For The Faint Of Heart

Retailing For The Faint Of Heart

You’ve all been into Camera Electronic, right? Two stores – Murray Street and Stirling Street. Full of staff – keen newbies and hardened oldies? Lots of tempting goodies? Hand sanitiser, social distancing, and all the rest? Simple, eh?

No. You’ve seen the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a glimpse at the rest – in particularly at one of the physical hurdles of retail trade. The other – the electronic hurdle – is embodied in the stock and accountancy tasks that occupy so many of the upstairs staff.

This part is the actual packaging that brings the goods to the shops and then disgorges it  – eventually to be in your hands. Make no mistake – it’s a thrill for the staff after a successful sale is to see a satisfied customer take a brilliant piece of equipment away while leaving enough money to pay for their wages. But part of it is just seeing another blessed box disappear to leave space for more cardboard. Think of it as a game of 3D Tetris and the computer always wins…

Boxes in have to arrive in good condition. if they do not, we ring up the transport firm and go crook. They are used to this, so they don’t take it amiss. But we are under no obligation to accept boxes that have passed under a steam roller.

The boxes have to contain what they say they contain and what we ordered. They mostly do. The things have to be counted and ticked off and then the agonised decision made where to store them. We have watched videos of train stuffers on the Tokyo underground and can sympathise with them.

And the biggest problem? To get the little boxes to us safely there have to be bigger boxes…and these have to go away lest they fill the car park. In my days in the shop there were times when I felt like Buster Keaton in a sawmill reducing cardboard boxes to their smallest compass to try to stuff them into bins. It cannot be different for other retail trades as well – our local Target has a hydraulic ram and containers round the back of their shop to compress the empties. I envied that – I just jumped on them.

The moral of this story? When you next come in to buy a lens or camera or memory card spare a thought for the staff and ask to take an empty cardboard carton or pallet home with you. It will make all the difference on Bin Night.

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