empty Healthy Shopper Market store

"Tales of a Scorched Coffee Pot" - H13

By jasonmcgathey | Jason McGathey | 11 Oct 2023


empty store ripe with possibilities Healthy Shopper Market on the brink of opening

 

“My numbers better be good, ya hear?” Craig says in an old mobster’s voice, having approached Edgar in one of the grocery aisles. He has cocked his index finger and thumb in the shape of a gun, and stuck it against the side of Edgar’s head.

“Heyyyyyy,” Edgar laughs, and makes the “money” motion with his own left hand, thumb rubbing against the first two fingers, “you gotta grease the wheels of commerce if you want results.”

He’s already conducting his first ever scan audit at Central, and it basically feels like this store has been in the mix all along. The people, the products, the auras and aromas, the essence of this store somehow like a worn pair of shoes. No less some of the routines and jokes, like Pablo over in produce shouting, “MISTER SUPER EDGAR!” as soon as he enters the building, with him replying in similar fashion. Or clowning around with Craig, or being within earshot of Destiny, as she hangs up the phone at one of the cash registers.

“That woman, I swear,” Destiny curses, shaking her head, “the way she talks to us sometimes…”

“Who’s that?” Edgar asks.

“Glenda. Who else? Let me tell you, you never talked to us the way that she does half the time!”

“Really?”

“No, never!”

“That’s funny,” Edgar replies, and chuckles.

“No, definitely not,” Destiny says, looking about half queasy as she does, “it’s definitely not funny.”

Truth is, Edgar’s secretly thinking that Glenda probably has good reason for doing so. And cheers to her for it. But he seems to be mostly on the good side of Destiny, and furthermore likes being privy to scoops like this, therefore keeps his mouth shut. It’s also reassuring to hear this, because there are occasional grumblings about how rude he allegedly is. Edgar in fact doesn’t really feel like he’s all that rude — he’s not overly emotional, doesn’t attack the person, and tries to give a measured response. It’s more accurate instead to state that the person receiving it often doesn’t like what he has to say.

There’s still a huge culture clash prevalent at this place. In a nutshell, as he has noted before, eradicating this will involve waiting out the hippies. Well, the hippies and other assorted complainers. Like one recently viewed episode, also involving Destiny, which he considers very telling. He was over here in this store, and a downpour erupted out of nowhere, causing her to exclaim, “oh no, Helga’s getting wet!” as she bolted from the cash register and out the front door. Edgar stood there watching her through the plate glass wall, wondering if this were a pet or something.

But no, it’s a bicycle. Of course. As Destiny hurriedly wheels this baby into the store — a brand new and modern one made to retroactively evoke the 1950s — and then pushes it across the concrete floor, into the back hallway, Edgar considers that this neatly symbolizes the culture clash he’s talking about. There are a handful of employees who either bicycle or walk to this store, and he truly finds that really cool and all, et cetera. Meanwhile, down at Bellwether, having worked there long enough himself, he would just about guarantee not a single person does so. As for where he sits on this spectrum, he supposes he is situated directly in the middle. Which is perfect, and also just about literally seems to be where his job is positioned anyway.

The question for those, like him, bunkered down here between the camps, is how do we connect these two polarities? Conversions to the other side have been almost nonexistent, any victories small ones. They’ve almost always just had to hope an employee quits and then replace that person with someone a little more up to speed on the current century. Because these concepts are not going away. Yet Rob and Duane have broken the news about future developments slowly, because they knew that otherwise, the workforce might be rioting in the streets.

Implementing even some of the smallest measures has often met considerable resistance. With the first batch of these snazzy new sale signs printed at Central, which no longer require Park’s involvement, only for Edgar to select the correct size when deploying his print batch, Dale decides to stroll over to the store to see what kind of progress they are making. Is a bit horrified to discover that his vitamins/HBC crew butchered the cutting of these signs, and that many have been hung with huge chunks lopped off. His next move is to approach the vitamins desk and ask department manager Sondra what happened with these, request that she reprint them and start over.

“Not everyone’s trained in how to use a paper cutter, you know!” she snaps at him, a response leaving him momentarily speechless.

“Well what about scissors? Is everyone trained in how to use scissors?” he recovers enough to question.

And this is just phase one. Maybe some of the employees have heard whispers about other aspects of this Slingshot integration, but for the most part, those in the know have tried their best to keep these developments under wraps, to avoid freaking out the hippies further. Checking in deliveries was mind-blowing enough, you had to give these people time to recuperate. Yet the fact of the matter is…Rob hadn’t just purchased this software package to check in shipments for no reason whatsoever. He has his eyes fixed upon an accurate, perpetual inventory. Furthermore, they will be using Slingshot to place their orders as well. And beyond this, the hope is that the employees learn to embrace Computer Assisted Ordering as an offshoot of this.

These are by no means brand new concepts, in the world of retail. Edgar seriously first began using CAO as a department manager almost twenty years ago — and he’s not yet forty. Of course, crusty diehards were complaining about the new ways back then as well. But Rob and Duane are smart enough to recognize that they need to bring this crew along slowly, because while they have a solid core of people who do not fear, perhaps might even actually embrace modern technology, there’s a sizable throng who do not.

Edgar wouldn’t claim that the technophobes represent the majority, not quite. But when you factor in a third contingent — those who don’t give a fuck, are hoping to only sort of coast along and say nothing, avoid rocking the boat and hopefully do as little work as possible in the process — then yes, the Luddites are winning the day. Thus the thought process drafted up by management that they’d get people in the swing of things with checking in deliveries, the cashiers with using this new software (at least they are for the most part giving this POS system a thumbs up over Orchestra), and people scanning out their damages/outdates/samples, with other pieces brought into play at a much more measured pace.

Rob tracks Edgar down one day in the bulk coffee section at Palmyra, where he’s checking out some incongruities with Johnny’s latest invoices. The gourmet coffees sell so poorly that by the time someone has gotten around to reordering it, the cost has shot through the roof — to the extent that there’s basically no way anyone would purchase this product, at the proper new margin, before his or her eyes popped out of his or her head. It’s also not helping matters that this is a bulk product, meaning no UPC, and that these suppliers mysteriously reuse SKU numbers for a completely different items, but then also mysteriously switch SKU numbers for the exact same item, both sides of that coin. Actually this is also true of Alfredson’s produce invoices, another doozy he’s going to have to sort out somehow if the inventory ever hopes to be remotely correct. But yes, he is attempting to straighten up this mess when Rob approaches him — and not for the first time — with his game plan concerning getting everybody on board with this perpetual inventory concept.

“I’m thinking, January first. I’m seeing this in giant letters, in bright lights: January first. You get what I’m saying? Are you with me? Think: January first,” Rob tells him, nods in the manner of encouraging someone else to nod, as he drifts out the door and home for the day.

So this is basically a thinly veiled threat in the form of encouragement. And Edgar wants to be hopeful, too, he’s excited about these concepts as well, he wants to believe they can pull them off. And that they will get there eventually, sure. But mentioning any of the accompanying qualifications to this thought to your boss would just sound like making excuses — to point out that Rob here’s expecting him to get results from these people, but Edgar’s not allowed to confront anyone, he doesn’t have any authority over any of them, and they know it. Maybe if it had more of a conversational exchange, he might have worked this in somehow. But this was more of a breeze through, as Rob issued this directive on his way out the door.

You agree with your boss, then, and figure you’ll find a way to get people on board somehow. Yes sir. Because the changes are coming. Of this there can be no doubt.

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jasonmcgathey
jasonmcgathey

I am a professional writer with 8 published books under my belt. And many other unpublished ones, in various stages of disarray.


Jason McGathey
Jason McGathey

Semi-Coherent Musings - from one of the leading masters of this questionable art form!

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