A True Christmas Retail Tale

My youngest son and I went out to get our Christmas a week or so ago. I headed towards our usual lot, expecting to pay something like $60 for a tree when we spotted a sign that read, “Christmas Trees: $29.95.” Never one to turn down a deal, I followed the signs to the lot where, indeed, all the perfectly good looking trees were $29.95.

After picking out a tree (the needles did not all fall off when I shook it), I struck up a conversation with the guy manning the lot. “How come you’re selling trees this cheap?” I asked.

“Well, it’s our first year in this business and we bought too many,” he explained. I asked how many too many and he told me, “Four times too many.”
I suggested that somebody at the company must have been sentenced to life in front of the firing squad for that one and he said it was so. Intrigued, I asked how, exactly, the buying decision had been made.
Now clearly this guy wasn’t an owner of the company that was losing its ass on all these trees because he was already starting to laugh as he told me, “The guy who sold them to us told us how many we needed.”
It got better. I asked him how they were moving and he said, “Okay, but we didn’t get the right size assortment.” I asked why not and he told me- you guessed- it, “The guy who sold them to us told us which sizes to get.”
By this point even my son, who’s only retail experience is as a customer but who has hung around me long enough to pick up a few things, was laughing hysterically.
Trying not to lose it completely, in case this guy actually cared I said, between chortles and guffaws, “So the guy selling you the trees not only told you how many to buy, but managed to sell you the ones that nobody else wanted? Is that about it?”
“Yup,” he said with a smile.
Christmas trees are even worse than snowboards from a retail perspective. The selling season is shorter and the damned things die.
Anyway, happy holidays and, be you a brand or a retailer, may you never buy four times too much of a wrong product who’s only residual value is as mulch or firewood, and have only two weeks to sell it all.



6 replies
    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Thanks Jurgen. I just don’t know how they could possibly have taken the supplier’s word for everything. See you in Denver I assume?


    • jeff
      jeff says:

      It’s always nice when somebody hands me something to write about on a silver platter. See you in ten days or so.

  1. Bill
    Bill says:

    That is funny, but very real and you can see how it happens.

    Many people come up to Noosa from interstate and then promptly buy a business based on the same incorrect assumptions.

    There is a saying here “The best way to make $1m in Noosa is to arrive with $3m ! “.

    Have a great Christmas everyone and lets hope 2011 is a better year all round.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Funny but real indeed. And also a little sad and, unfortunately, and as a few others have commented, not all that rare. I honestly don’t see how it happens at the level the guy described to me, but I was grateful for the chance to write about it.

      Thanks Bill,

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