T’is the season once again, when hordes of people descend upon retail establishments, searching for the latest and greatest in electronics, entertainment, toys, and games. These kindly folks are given lists by their diligent children, or grandchildren, or nieces, or nephews, or godkids, lists of items for Santa to bring them. These items range from beats by dre headphones, to BMX bikes, to Lego Chima, to Monster High dolls, to basically anything else you can find on the shelves with a price tag on it. And each year, the “must-haves” are different. This year’s “must-haves” were:
- Playstation 4
- Zoomer robot dog
- Doc McStuffin’s Checkup Center
- Razor scooters
- Logo Party board game
- Lego Friends sets
- Our Generation dolls and accesories
- Rubber band bracelets
- Crayola Crayon Maker
- Flutter-bye dolls
I know they were the “must-haves” because of the plethora of phone calls to the store from 8 o’clock on every morning since November 12th, asking for the availability of said items. That’s of course in addition to the people wanting bungee chairs, rocker chairs, microwaves, Kitchen-Aid attachments (and mixers), vacuum cleaners, Keurig machines, and beer making kits. It honestly blows my mind the sheer numbers generated by a retail store just in that month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Numbers of guests in the building on any given day, at any given hour. Numbers of guests through the checkout lines. Numbers of average items in each cart. Numbers of dollars spent on those items. Numbers of team members assigned to the electronics, entertainment, and toys areas of the store on any given day, at any given hour.
And this year I was responsible for two major areas of the store for the holidays: perishables, and TOYS. Now, if you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that my primary job at Target is the perishables assistant, meaning I am responsible for making sure all of our fresh food is indeed fresh, that it’s full on the floor, and that an order goes in systematically so we can maintain the other two. I think many people forget in the maelstrom over in electronics, entertainment, and toys, that food is a huge seller this time of year as well and helps to maintain the other areas of the store. Anyway, though, I was asked this year to expand my talents and take over the daunting task of also maintaining Toys.
I was the head of a department other than perishables for my first time ever, and believe me, if you’ve ever been to a toy store, or to the toy section of a retail store during that month between Thanksgiving and Christmas you’ll know what I mean. And I dove in headfirst. The entire month was spent organizing my workload, supervising and assigning tasks for my cadre of worker bees over in Toys, and filling, filling, and more filling. I spent probably about half of my time in the backroom pulling product to fill shelves that kept getting blown out, and racking my brains to prioritize what went out and when.
But I had an amazing crew, from the 12 people who helped me out on Black Thursday/Friday (we all worked 12-hour shifts), to the 3 people every single day between the two holidays who assisted in pulling, filling, and maintaining the brand over in Toys. And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest part of it all, which was handling guests, not an easy task on normal days, but imagine having to tell someone you just sold the last Zoomer dog and you have no idea when the store will get any back in stock. Especially when it’s the only thing on the kids’ list. But my crew was amazing, making sure that people left with something in their hands or in their carts, walking guests through the section like personal shoppers when possible, and answering guest calls on the phone looking for specific items.
I must admit, too, looking back on it all, that it was fun. Walking the aisles today and seeing so much empty space, it means we sold a truckload of toys for the holiday, which means that Christmas morning for so many boys and girls will be a happy one with the toys they got from Santa, spirited (after paying, of course) from the Target shelves to a spot, nestled up under their Christmas tree. And I’d like to think that’s what it’s all about. Now, to get ready for December 26th and all the toy markdowns coming…