What’s more fun than gathering some friends and playing a rousing board game? Not much, at least to me. So when my store expanded our game section, I was excited. Not only could I keep up with the latest board games, I could also buy them at a discount. (We also expanded our toys section to include Legos but don’t get me started on that.)
Since the store had a stockpile of demo games, we set them in our cafe. Patrons took to them right away and our cafe sales reflected the extra time people were spending there. Kids especially enjoyed it, even if they couldn’t fully grasp the concept of some games, like Blokus. This past Friday, a group of teenagers set up a game of Monopoly and spread out across the floor by the teen section. Much of the staff didn’t think twice about it, figuring that they probably got the game from the cafe. I thought that they’d purchased it to play it because it looked new, unlike the games in our cafe. Surely, I thought to myself, four teens would know not to open product that wasn’t theirs.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I came back Monday morning, I saw that the Monopoly game was sitting in receiving, used and unable to be sold again. I was pissed, as were several other coworkers who realized what’d happened too late. What made four teens think that it was okay to open something that wasn’t theirs and use it? Where did they learn such behavior? I pondered this question to one of the children’s department staff and she answered simply, “Their parents.” I nodded. “I see it when they’re young,” she went on, “how the kids will use our product as if it’s theirs and their parents let them.” She was right. We’ve seen kids throw books, rip pages, take stickers, and put plush in their mouths, right in front of their parents who don’t tell them to stop and behave. So, of course ten years down the road those same kids are going to think it’s okay to use something that doesn’t belong to them so can I really blame them for their shortcomings?
Yet I can’t quite grasp why a parent would think that it’s okay to do this, either. My parents certainly didn’t let me behave that way (and I continue to respect product when shopping in a store). I want to think it has something to do with the suburb in which our store is located. It’s a wealthy suburb and sometimes I get the feeling from customers that they feel entitled to certain things. But only a small percentage of people actually are like this, so it’s not necessarily that. Also, I’ve been able to spot others who’ve never worked a day of retail in their lives and don’t understand that damaged product means loss to the store. Sure, the company takes a hit, but the effects are felt most closely at the store. As a manager, if we don’t make our sales plan, we can kiss our raises goodbye.* And one thing that cuts into our profit is store damaged items. That’s right. Those four teens partook in a fun game called, “Let’s not give the managers any more money” or “Monopoly”.
*Wouldn’t you be pissed, too, if it meant the difference between making the same crap pay or making an extra $1040/year?