Friday, July 24, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way out of business

The last few weeks here at Crossroads have provided us with a lot of laughter. You'd think this would be a sad time for us as this ministry comes to a close and it has been sad in some respects. There have been more than our share of funny things that have happened, too. Here are just a few examples:
  • In the first days of the Business Closing Sale with signs plastered all over the building, inside and out, screaming-out Business Closing, a customer asks, "Are you really going out of business?" Nah . . . we were just kidding!
  • After fielding about the one billionth call from someone asking about purchasing our playground equipment (or donating it to them), we were ready to get into the used playground equipment business! Who knew that this would be the most sought-after item in (actually on the outside of) our store?
  • Then there was the kid who had a run-in with his brother, cut his finger and threw-up all over himself and one of our upholstered chairs. Mom just stood there churning out the drama to cover-up for her lack of parental supervision while I cleaned-up all the vomit on her son and the chair. I don't recall "vomit clean-up" being anywhere in my job description but I could be wrong.
  • We discovered that many of our customers can't do simple math. When everything is 50% off (as in, half off) we still had to explain what half of $10 is for many of them. Maybe it's the heat or maybe we need to do a better job of teaching that subject in our schools here.
  • There was the woman who asked if we still had any Bibles left in the King John translation. King James . . . King John, maybe that was just another King?
  • When fixtures were sold on a Cash Only basis, we still had customers ask, "It says Cash Only on the tag but I can still use my credit card, can't I?" It was hard not to laugh when explaining that Cash Only means only cash.
  • Then there was the woman who bought the glass jewelry case and when she came with her friends to disassemble it and pick it up, it took her at least an hour and it looked like a circus. If it made it back to her shop in one piece, I'd be shocked!
  • Another woman came to the register and said, "I went around the barrier and back into the area that was marked 'NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC' and found something I want but it doesn't have a price on it. " I wondered what part of "NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC" was unclear to her and if she thought that there might be a connection between that area being cordoned-off and the fact that none of those products were priced, yet?
  • In the midst of our busiest time, a customer called and requested that we hold back all of our large print Bibles for her to come look at a later time as this was "not a good time" for her. Nice try, no thanks!
  • When our Bibles were almost completely sold out, a customer standing in front of the Large Print section of our Bibles asked a staff member to show her all of our large print Bibles. There were only 3 left on the shelf. I wonder if this was the same customer who called several weeks earlier requesting that we hold all those large print Bibles until she could get here?
  • Early in our sale, a lady came in and told us she wanted to purchase the commercial dishwasher from our cafe. "You mean these?" Glynis asked as she held up her hands. We have never had a mechanical dishwasher of any description at any time in our cafe despite the insistence by this customer that she had seen it.
  • Then there was the woman who vowed, "Never to shop here, again" when she saw a news story about the store closing on TV. She had indeed received a letter from us describing a private sale advertised initially only to customers receiving this letter. There were, however, 9,999 other customers who received that letter. We couldn't control the fact that the newspaper, radio and TV sent people (unsolicited) to cover our store closing as a legitimate news event since it caused a traffic back-up in the vicinity of the store and approximately 400 people showed-up for the opening on the first day. That wasn't advertising, it was news coverage. Maybe she thought that "Private Sale" meant only for her. Next time that we go out of business, we'll try to be clearer about that.
  • We opened the store one day to discover that a visitor to our store the previous evening had taken a price gun that was out for sale and marked numerous items throughout the store at just 50 cents. They ranged from greeting cards to books to gift items to fixtures worth as much as several hundred dollars each and were scattered from one side of the store to the other. We're talking more than a hundred items discovered, so far. Wow . . . Dollar Tree has nothing on us! Apparently, this person wanted to make us the 50 Cent Tree store.
  • One customer asked if all of our locations were closing. We have one location. It's closing. I guess that means that all of our locations are closing.
We appreciate our customers and hope they can laugh with us about these same things. All of us say things that seem reasonable at the time that the words are coming out of our mouth. Sometimes I wish I could have a "do-over" and take back some of the words that have escaped from my mouth. I suppose some of our customers have that experience, too.

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