Monday, September 27, 2010

Store Management Complete

Store Management Complete, By Frank Farrington. Published originally in 1911, this version 1922 by Byxbee Publishing Co.

I found this little book  (it's 4.5" x 7.5") in an antique shop in Decatur, Alabama a few weeks ago.  I love books and couldn't turn down a nearly 90 year old instruction manual for running a retail operation.  It's a funny little book, but also very interesting in it's common sense approach to business.  For entrepreneurs, it lays it all on the line in the first sentence of the book.

"It is the man himself that makes or mars the business."

Couldn't have said it better myself.  Mr. Farrington goes on to say that a business can have every advantage, properly stocked shelves, great location, good price, excellent marketing and promotion, but if the business owner doesn't know what he's doing, he'll run it into the ground in no time.

It was really the last sentence on the first page that I found most interesting:  "A merchant needs to be an all around man, a man who knows much about many things, who can himself do any part of the store work in need be, in order to show an employee how it should be done, and a man who can make himself agreeable to people and exhibit a high degree of proficiency in salesmanship."

I think he just described a small business owner.  In modern language, someone who can wear many hats.  Doesn't that describe most any small business owner's job?  Before you can, in Mr. Farrington's world, become a financier, you have to start small and do most of the actual work yourself.  As you grow and develop your business into a real business enterprise, you can start to hire employees to do the actual work and you can manage the direction and finances of the business. 

As a financier, you are managing the investment that is your business.  As a merchant, you're managing the store and the people and doing much of the actual work.  Just like Horace Vandergelder, the grumpy half-a-millioniare merchant in Yonkers, New York in Hello Dolly, we envision a merchant with a tweed suit and an apron.  He's the classic business owner and manager.

This book is in remarkable condition to be 88 years old and is delightful in its language.  I'm sure I'll have much more to say as read Mr. Farrington's Store Management Complete.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Artists View

My friend and artist, Rick White, drew this caricature of me during a presentation I did at the St. Joseph the Worker Job Club in Madison, Alabama.  The job club is a networking and support organization to help displaced workers find jobs and is supported by the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.  It's an excellent group and quite well respected in the community.  Anyway, my fried Rick drew this little caricature of me.  I especially like that he made me skinny and with hair!  You can view Rick's work at .