Atlanta public radio station WABE ran a piece this morning about how Atlanta’s homegrown department store, Rich’s (may it rest in peace) was revered by citizens during the Great Depression for honoring the full value of scrip issued in place of paychecks (in addition to its “no questions asked” return policy and its legendary concern for customer service). Not all retailers honored scrip in this way — some, instead, gave citizens, only 80 cents on the dollar. The gesture by Rich’s made huge differences in people’s lives, sometimes saving homes, according to the radio interview.
Atlantans did not forget. They repaid Rich’s with loyalty for decades after the Depression was over.
It’s a story worth recounting today. College students surveyed by the University of Florida’s Center for Retailing Education and Research indicated they have a low opinion of retail contributions to communities. This suggests, the researchers say, the need for retailers to improve their public image of contributions to society. Indeed, they could very well take few pages from the Rich’s book.
Another false perception students have, as revealed in the study, is that retail careers offer low salaries. Therefore, the researchers contend, retailers need to educate students about the realty of fast promotions and the high earning potential available in a retail career.
Good advice and nice history lesson.