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Be the change driver – Blog #75

Be the change driver

In Blog 74 I talked about The corporate business trip to Seattle. In this blog I wanted to talk about how You must be the change driver. 

After being in Kid’s shoes for a little over six months, I started to see the fruits of my labor. Our business was going great, so much so that Jean Claude would make it a point to stop by and tell me how happy he was with our results. It took some guts and determination to get there. Especially when people would tell me “you can’t do that in kid’s shoes”. It just made me go do it anyway.

Arden fair was a great Nordstrom store, I guess being part of the opening team made me have a sense of pride for the store too. It made me happy to see the store do so well. Every morning we would arrive at the store, we would have to climb 3 flights of stairs to get to the top.

The morning routine would be to climb the stairs, then go to the area where all the sales numbers were posted. They would have several books out, near where the hourly employees would clock in. There were books for each department and whether you made your day or not.  there were the employee sales for the day as well. I’d always check both.

Kid’s Salespeople

Kid’s shoes was always tough to get people to hire for. Part of this was because the pay structure was different. Ok it was lower. In Women’s & Men’s shoes you made your hourly rate which was usually $10 an hour (1990’s), or your 10% commission rate which ever was higher. In kids shoes you had buckets. So if you hit a certain SPH (sales per hour) your commission rate would be higher.  Issue was the volume was much lower so to hit the higher bucket you had to be a hustler.


Needless to say there weren’t many Kid’s Pacesetters to be seen. Until Jack came to our department that is. One of our employees went to women’s shoes, so we had an opening and Jack applied. He was a handsome young man with a very nice personality. I hired him a few days later. He was a machine on the floor, his numbers were unbelievable by kid’s standards. I hit the “Jack”pot”.

I could tell he would be a Pacesetter at the end of the year after the first week. Most of the other employees started to complain he was a floor shark. Basically he didn’t wait for others to approach the customers, he was on it. It made one of our other employees start to sell more too. It gave everyone a new sense of urgency.

European Business

Our European business was really starting to take off too, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. The items weren’t found in many of the other stores in town and they were pricey, which our top people loved. I made sure I beefed up the quantities on those items.


Even though everything was going great, I really missed Women’s shoes. Kid’s shoes gave me a solid foundation, Gail was an amazing mentor but I was getting restless. I felt I made alot of positive changes which drove our business. What was missing?

I figured this out one day when I was helping a customer and this kid was running around the chairs non-stop. Of course his mom didn’t do anything about it. I edged my size 12 foot just ever so slightly in his path and he tripped and started crying. I apologized to the customer and she said “It’s not your fault, he was being a brat”.

At that moment I figured it out. I  loved the ever changing fashion and high volume of the Women’s floor. I thrived on chaos and making it better but couldn’t find my passion for the product. Yes, the product was cute and all but to me it was more on improving the processes and running a great department than getting excited about what the new pink patent mary jane style would be.  

What to do? Part of my success in Kid’s was to be the change driver. With that being said it wasn’t enough. Gail had been so good to me it reminded me of when I left Jim at Naturalizer. I felt guilty for even having these thoughts.I wonder if I should call Rob..

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi


…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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Corporate Business Trip to Seattle – Blog #74

Corporate Business Trip to Seattle

In Blog 73 I talked about howthe power of Mentors and friendships. In this blog I wanted to talk about the corporate business trip to Seattle.

A group of Kid’s Buyers flew from the San Francisco region to Seattle to attend the Kid’s Corporate meeting. I was nervous about this being my first corporate meeting but Pam calmed my nerves down somewhat. Funny thing was it would be the first time I’d meet her and Lorrie as well. Most of our interactions were over the phone and I hadn’t been in the kid’s division that long to actually meet them.

We arrived in Seattle mid-morning and we settled into our Hotel rooms which were close to the store. Gail wanted to show us around the area before dinner which was later that evening. We went to a few famous landmarks such as the first Starbucks store, Pikes market and Pikes brewery right before dinner. We didn’t have time to see the Space Needle which is also a famous place.

Starbucks first store

The first store that Starbucks opened was right across from Pikes Market. It was a smaller Starbucks, a guy was playing a guitar for tips outside and there was a line of people waiting to get in. It was really cool to see it with all the merchandise that said “first Starbucks store” and all. Truth be told aside from the hoopla it was just another Starbucks.

Pike Market/Fish Market

Definitely a highlight reel. This fish market was written about in the book Fish! It was a Nordstrom read all buyers had to read in the early 2000’s. At this time in the 90’s it was still just a story people talked about. We get there with our Starbucks coffees in hand and there is a lot of shouting going on. As we get closer we see the employees “shouting” the orders to the butcher and then throwing the fish over to him. Some of them where huge too!. It was a very vibrant and electrifying atmosphere which made for a good time.

Pikes Brewery

The brewery had its Fermentation tanks in plain view and we took a tasting tour and learned about the history of the Brewery. It was fascinating to say the least. The brewery was founded the same time I started my Nordstrom career in 1989 so it stuck with me. They produce quite a few barrels a year so it was really cool to see the operation. We had dinner that evening there too. I had an amazing burger.

Kid’s Corproate Meeting

There were Kid’s buyers from all over the country. It was intense! We had a few words from The Nordstrom family then the head of Kids spoke. Her name was Dawn and she was really nice. They talked about how service is always the number one focus and how we could take the kids shoe division to the next level.

The best part though was after the meeting. Networking with so many different buyers  around the whole country was invaluable. I picked up so many great ideas on what others were doing I couldn’t wait to get back to the store. It was such a great trip on so many levels.

I learned being prepared for the questions people might ask is so important. Anticipate what they might be is the key. Truth be told you could prepare for a few days for just a five minute encounter. but nothing is worse than not being prepared. you still might get stumped, Blake was really good at asking those types of questions, but its the game. Cat and mouse. if you are on your game you will do well, even if you can’t always answer all the questions its a learning thing too. This was my first corporate business trip to Seattle headquarters.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

– Simon Sinek



…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

Subscribe to my Blog  by filling out the info  below and then press the red “subscribe” button