Looking for good dependable sales professionals for your organization? Go to the mall and buy something this holiday. You’re likely to find your next great team member.
I grew up amid four generations of retailers. My grandmother owned a prestigious clothing store in Brooklyn. My grandfather was a Floor Manager at Martins, an exclusive, east coast specialty store. Before World War II my mother and father ran the fashion merchandising department of Saks 5th Avenue. I remember when going shopping was great fun, when the stores were full of elegant merchandise, hosted fashion shows, celebrity appearances, Santa Claus and spectacular product launches like Calvin Klein and Chanel couture.
It is interesting that there is so much chatter recently about job loss in the coal and auto industries. All those losses combined will not come close to the unemployment we are about to experience from retail clerks, merchants and their suppliers that will be laid off at places like Sears, Macy’s, and soon, Toys R Us.
In the far-reaching consequences of its collapse the retail industry is slated to lose 300,000 jobs in the coming year. In reading about the impending doom of the department store as we know it, I was struck by an idea that may actually help our senior industry.
We have no greater challenge than finding talented personnel. The seasoned sales and merchandising staff of these vanishing department stores are some of the most dependable, hardworking and friendly people on earth. They face the public every day, work long hours, build relationships with strangers in minutes and truly understand the meaning of teamwork.
Many are ideal employees. They are independent of spirit, and many in middle age, have grown up around traditional customer service. Some have aging parents themselves and understand the challenge that brings to life.
I left my long career in retail after my father passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in the late 90’s. I was so taken by the experience of caring for him that I was drawn to our industry and baffled by its complexity for adult children. I knew that if I were going to sell anything again it would have to be in this field.
Soon after I landed my first job at Sunrise Senior Living I knew I was “home.” The skill set was almost identical, the teamwork just as important and the value of what I was offering was much greater than anything I ever sold on the floor at Macy’s.
My insights for your success.