December 30, 2012

Bad Business

The Saturday before Christmas, Boom and I were out on the town, taking care of last minute shopping and returning a few items that I had bought and then decided against gifting (or had found somewhere else so much more cheaply that the hassle of returning the first was worth it).  One such item was a toy for The Princess purchased from a local independent toy shop that we have come to love for its unique stock and quality toys.

In the interest of full disclosure, the returned toy was a small sort of modern day paper doll fashion thing, with reusable stickers to make different outfits with.  I found, at Costco, a different, larger, more hands-on version of the toy that included a small light table for tracing and coloring the clothing.  The Princess likes to draw and color, so I felt it more suited to her.  One may argue that bowing to the big box store gods is part of the problem, but I have no issue getting a better value, for an item better suited for my kid, no matter where it comes from.

So, we were at the local toy store on the 22nd.  They were busy, of course.  Nothing seemed amiss - sales were rung up, bags were flying out the door, gift card sales were suggested, gift receipts offered.

On Wednesday, December 26th, bright and early, there was an email from the toy store announcing that they were going out of business - in TWO DAYS.  They said that after 3 years they had discovered that their 'business plan was unworkable'.  They closed the email with, 'If you gave any of our gift cards, be sure to tell the recipient to redeem them by Friday'.

Here is a little bit of business/customer service advice for that business owner - any business plan that includes pushing your products and gift cards without mention of your final business date - and doing it around the Christmas holidays when a large percentage of your customer base will be out of town, or might not be getting your sad email in a timely fashion, well, that mindset overrides any positive aspects of your 'plan'.  From where I sit, your 'plan' was to soak the consumer, take your money and run.  I'm glad I got my $20 back before the race was on. 

I suppose there is a chance that the owners had some make-or-break sales goal that they needed to meet by Christmas, but really, two day's notice of their closing?  Small business owners are always crying that the large faceless corporate conglomerates are pushing them out of business, but, hey, at least the big boys are still around to honor their return policies and guarantees.

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