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Target corporate visit went well #175

Target corporate visit went well

Blog #174  I talked about The good, the bad and the sad. . In this blog I want to talk about how a Target corporate visit went well.

Our new STL’s name was Becky. She was very personable, fit and attractive and was someone you liked right away. I could tell she was really smart and knew what she was doing. Of course I still would have liked working with George a little better. He was more real while she seemed kind of corporate. First impression was that I liked her.


Corporate Visit


We were informed of a corporate visit in a few days so we needed to get the store tuned up. Our Store had just received a double truck so it was a little rough so we had our work cut out for us. I volunteered to work straight through which meant 27 hours straight. She was super grateful because she was still getting her feet wet. Charles and I first did a bunch of scans to fill the store up fast. We walked every inch of the store as someone from corporate would do. End Caps were always “catch-alls” so we made sure they were all meaningful as well. Then we double checked that all signage was current and we were up to date on all the Plan-o-Grams (floor sets.)


Logisitcs Prep


Meanwhile the Logistics team took down all the pallets that were upstocked and re-wrapped everything nice and neat. Floors in the backroom werre mopped and swept real good. I think we even wiped down the forklift real good. All the boxes were straihght too to give an even better look. We did random location checks to insure accuracy.  Everything that usually was checked on we covered. I worked a solid 27 hours straight. At this point I was so tired and my body was so caffeinated that I was a hot mess. But we looked as perfect as we could.




It was a brutal two days of prep but we looked fantastic when they showed up. The corporate guy could tell I had worked a long shift and thanked me with a Golden Bullseye pin to place on my badge. “Get some rest now” he told me. These were hard to get so It was a cool reward. Target’s Golden Bullseye was a high honor. I was also acknowledged for my great increases and for the fact our Accident report was the best results in the region. George had put me in charge of safety for the store a few months back so it was nice to see such positive results.


More Changes


It was a great first impression with Becky. We hit it off right away. Shortly after the Visit she informed me I was getting transferred to the new Hayward store opening as the Logistics ETL. It was a promotion so It was a nice acknowledgement. With Target you really didn’t have a choice and since I was in the ETL program this is what it was all about. With all the recognition and positive results I was enjoying at that moment,I still had the same uneasy feeling of not being content…If I can’t be happy with huge increases and recognition for Safety and recieving the Golden Bullseye, what would make me happy? I started doing some real soul searching and decidied even being promoted to a STL wouldn’t do it. This was affecting my health, my marriage and my psyche. Something had to change and quick..


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

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The Good The Bad and the Sad #174

The Good The Bad and the Sad

Blog #173  I talked about The daily routine at Target. In this blog I want to talk about The good the bad and the sad.

The Good

If you know me, You know I am the type of person who likes to learn new things. I also like machinery, so learning how to work a forklift was a lot of fun. A forklift has a gas pedal like a normal car and a brake so that was easy. It has a reverse lever if you had to back up. There were three levers for the forks Up, Down and tilt. So all of it together was pretty easy to learn but there were safety issues also involved. If you weren’t paying attention it could lead to disaster. Using the Forklift also gave you an opportunity to be outside on occassion. For all these reasons I would volunteer. 

The Bad

One time,  I saw someone dump a whole pallet of liquid Tide once and it was a mess. And no it wasn’t me…

This person started it out right, The liquid tide was on a pallet and the employee drove over to the pallet. The forks went into the open spaces of the pallet just right. When he started to lift the pallet you are supposed to tilt the pallet ever so slightly. Ever so slightly was missed on this one. He tilted it way too far and all the containers came tumbling down. This also could have been avoided if he used “Shrink wrap to keep the Tide all together. It was a mess but I sure learned from that.

Sometimes when the overnight team had two trucks it would be a lot of work for the day team as well, getting it all processed. This was where teamwork really came in. The items the overnight team didnt have time to finish would be staged in the back. The daytime team would first run everything they could on the shelves then scan into location when put into back stock. We would help each other as needed or otherwise it would be a snowball effect that would cause the whole store to be is disarray. Everyone was pretty good at helping each other out. Two trucks usually meant a tough day and exhausting one.

The Sad

One sad day George announced he was leaving. An empty pit developed in my gut. He was leaving Target for Best Buy. He was the reason why I’ve stayed, because I liked him so much, he can’t do this to me… I started thinking of what my next move would be. Everyone in the store loved George. We threw him a nice send off with cake and party favors in the lunchroom. We had a lot of laughs that day even though it was sad.

Charles and I kept giving each other the look on “What’s next?” We would most likely get a new store manager even though I felt Charles was capable. All the ETL’s were a little rattled on what kind of STL we would get. George kept it fun and was awesome to work with even when he was mad. I started doing some soul searching and wanted to be ahead of this in case it went south. George was not your typical STL so this would be interesting.


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

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The daily routine at Target #173

The daily routine at Target

Blog #172  I talked about learning from George and Charles. In this blog I want to talk about The daily routine at Target

As I said in the last blog, Target had different ETL’s for each of the areas. Everything was around getting the trucks processed every day. Trucks would come into the back area and drop off the trailer at the bay doors. Then the Logistics ETL would check to make sure the seal matched before breaking it. It wouldn’t be broken until the truck was ready to be unloaded to prevent theft. On two truck nights there would be two bays with trailers behind them.

Overnight Team

Our overnight team arrived around 9:30 or 10PM to start setting up the rails that would be used to roll the cases down out of the truck. They were folded up after each use like an accordion which made them easy to use. Once everyone was there and the store was closed they would break the seals and two people would climb into the trailer to move the cartons onto the rails. Cartons would be scanned as they left the truck to signify receipt of goods. Anything damaged would be set aside. There was a “hands team” that would place the cartons by dept. so many pallets were used. When a pallet was full someone would take out to the floor and dropped at the appropriate location. A floor team would start stocking the shelves.

After the people unloading the trucks were done they would come out to the floor and help stock the shelves too. They basically had from 10PM to 6AM to complete the truck. Anything not able to stay out on the floor due to the shelves being full would be brought into the back stockroom and scanned into a location.  There would be the Bar-code for the item and another bar-code for each shelf location in the stockroom. This way everything could be found when needed.


Daytime Team

During the day the Daytime team would finish filling the shelves by doing scans as well. With the location system it would lead the person to the location in the stockroom and they would scan it out of location to run to the floor. For Soft-Lines I was in charge of footwear and clothing. My shoe experience helped out but it was definitely a different type of operation. By keeping the shelves full and Requesting fills on hot items from the buyers we had really big increases in footwear.


Customers were a different type at this location too. Theft was a problem in DVD’s and shaving kits. Usually you had to be the Manager in Charge at some point during the day. Middle of the day was the premium shift because the opener had to make sure everything was good to open and the opposite for closing. Store had to be perfect before you left. While making your rounds walking the floor, it was a common daily experience to see empty packages on the floor from thieves. Security would catch some of them and have the MIC involved searching for the crook. If we caught someone we would have to fill out the theft report and call the Police to arrest them. Needless to say it wasn’t fun.

Target didn’t have a lenient return policy like Nordstrom did so there were always confrontations with customers. Plus Target had a strict policy the ETL’s could not bend. One guy got so upset with me he challenged me to a fist fight outside the store because I wouldn’t give him a refund. Security just watched while he was screaming at me. 

I asked him if he really wanted to fight me over a return? He was an idiot and wouldn’t leave so I threatened to call the police. Then he left… I remained calm during the whole interaction with him. I think he felt if he pushed the limits he would get what he wanted. With Target Policy though my hands were tied. I was so used to the Nordstrom way so I felt bad for the customers in a way. Our security department didn’t take care of unruly customers just thieves. This was the worst part of the job. I hated being the MIC. It really made me question if I wanted to be a store manager after all. If this is the End game, do I want this? We had nutty people at Nordstrom too but this was them on steroids. Sometimes it was nuts.


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

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Learning from George and Charles #172

Learning from George and Charles

Blog #171  I talked about Zappos calls again in 2002. In this blog I want to talk about learning from George and Charles.

Target had different ETL’s for each of the areas. There were quite a few in the Hard-lines area since it was so big. I had the Soft-line’s area by myself and there was a Logistics ETL and a HR ETL. We didn’t usually see much of the Logistics ETL as he liked to work graveyard with his team which was by choice. The other ETL’s and I all got along really well. Our HR ETL, Theresa was a crack up. Very cynical and direct, so we got along just fine. There were three Hard-lines ETL’s  but the main Hard-lines ETL was Charles. I probably learned the most from him but had great relations with the other two as well.




Charles was a very A-type personality. Very direct with people, wasn’t mean but wasn’t too warm either. He usually treated people with respect though and everyone liked him. If he looked over his glasses then you knew he meant business. Normally he would start with a “Rebeccaaaa, you know how this is supposed to look like….Soooooo when will this be corrected”. Never talked to me like that but it was a little comical to watch. Always had good intentions and had a big heart. Plus he was an encyclopedia of knowledge. Knew Target left and right, forwards and backwards. I learned a lot from him and he even taught me and certified me on the fork-lift.


One thing Target was about was clean & stocked floors,  so that basically was our job to make sure that happened. Every day… ETL’s would usually have a walkie on one side of the belt and a LRT holster on the other side. We used those to scan the barcodes to create a fill order to get out to the floor. The team leads would be responsible for this mostly but the ETL had to make sure it was executed.

Getting to the store itself was a chore being in Dublin. My family lived between San Jose and the Pleasanton area, so I had the Silicon Valley traffic to deal with. It took a good hour sometimes to get to work. We usually started our day in the store at 7 so I had to be on the road by 6am.




Another thing with Target, everything revolved around the truck shipments every day. Sometimes it would be one truck other days two. There was never a day that there wasn’t much to do. Every day was a busy day. George made it all ok. He was such a great guy. I’d rank him with some of the other mentors I’ve had in my career. It was a different business but his people skills were unmatched. I think he could sell anything to anyone. Yes, he was that good.


George had a smile that was super warm and very authentic. Always took his time to explain things to everyone so they understood. Even when he was mad, it was ok. You just knew he wasn’t happy and wanted to turn that around. There wasn’t one person who disliked him. Talk about a great sense of humor too, we laughed often when together and really enjoyed each other’s company.

This made me stay. The job itself wasn’t that great but I sure enjoyed working with him. Until I figured out what else I’d do he made it ok to work there. It just wasn’t very fulfilling, something was missing. Did I miss the shoe business?


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

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Zappos calls again in 2002 #171

Zappos calls again in 2002

Blog #170 I talked about how my Target journey begins in Milpitas. In this blog I want to talk about when Zappos calls again in 2002.




1 ½ years later Fred calls me again in 2002. We had a nice chat and he said they really needed someone with women’s footwear experience. He mentioned they had doubled their business every year and were trending to do it again in 2002. I told him I would make the move if it were just me but had a family to consider. My wife didn’t have a comfort level of me working for a start-up type business, because a lot of them failed in the Bay Area. I was more of a risk taker but at the same time respected her wishes. I had to decline again. We left it on good terms though, because he said he’d ask me again next year.


Eileen & Aaron


Meanwhile Aaron gets invited to a birthday party for one of Freds sons. After several glasses of gin he gets put on the couch next to Tony. Aaron didn’t know who Tony was at the time but answered a lot of Tony’s questions about shoes and E-Commerce. 2 days later he gets an offer from Fred/Tony. While he was happy where he was Aaron calls me for some advice. I told him I’d do it for sure if I could. Aaron gives a 3 week notice. Fred asks Aaron who would be good for better end designer type brands and Aaron suggests Eileen. She joins soon after. Zappos was hiring and he should check them out. That’s where I’d go, if I could, I told him. He calls Eileen and not too long after joins them as well.


Feeling a little jealous of both of them I was happy at the same time. I really liked both of them and felt it was a great move on their part. Good news was I had two more people I cared for and respected to reach out to if I needed to. My level of contentment was ok at best in this stage of my Target career, Long hours and dirty work a lot of the time. The customers in Milpitas were very confrontational and there was a lot of theft to deal with. There was usually empty DVD containers found in odd parts of the store and we would have to figure out how it was done. Sometimes we would catch the thieves in the act which was always fun.


Back to Target


Most of our day was to walk the floor of our department and make sure everything was full. If we had time we would help out the other areas as well. We all worked well together so it was never a problem. Sometimes we would have floor resets which usually happened after 10PM. There would be a Palo-Gram which told us exactly how we had to do it. This insured all the stores to have the same look. 




George who was the main reason I stuck it out asked me to attend a regional meeting. The meeting was about how to improve customer service. Of course I arrived early and there were people from all over the Bay Area in attendance. They asked me to attend because of my Nordstrom Background. When asked what Target could do to improve the service I suggested More people on the floor to help the customers find what they were looking for. They looked at me like I had two heads.


“No, we mean what can we do without spending any extra money.” With my Nordstrom background, I explained why the service was so great at Nordstrom. It was about an experience there. People were approached right away. To pull that off you need enough people around to do that. It was rare to even see one person per department at Target. Clean floors was the focus at Target and for the most part that was handled properly. Everyone had a walkie talkie to communicate so it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great.


The consensus was to try to motivate people to work harder at giving better service. You mean like more incentives or compensation? That’s what motivates people. I remember in all my retail jobs of the past if salespeople opened a Credit account they would earn a little extra. Well not exactly was the response. We think by giving out “Good Job” cards when people do something right, that will be enough motivation. Good luck with that, was my first thought.


The people


The people in our store were all good people for the most part. I enjoyed working with all of them. They all had different backgrounds and life stories so it was interesting to work with them all. I thought George did a great job of keeping people motivated just by the way he treated everyone. Recognition from him was pretty frequent which kept every bodies spirits up.  Not sure if a “Good Job” card would move it forward much but that’s what we had to do, so I did it.




My calls to my father were more frequent being he worked at Sears which was similar. He always knew had to make me feel better and how to have a positive outlook on things. He thought the Zappos thing was interesting and to give it some thought still. For now I needed to focus on my family and learning this ETL position.


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

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My Target journey begins in Milpitas #170

My Target Journey begins in Milpitas

Blog #169  I talked about three reps who stayed in touch. In this blog I want to talk about how my Target journey begins in Milpitas.


Nordstrom lessons


Nordstrom was an amazing experience and I met so many great people along the way. A lot of  the things I learned during my time there shaped me into the merchant I am today. In my previous experiences I learned these things too but the Nordstrom experience developed them. Mentors like Rob, Mike and Kent really helped fine tune my Women’s experience while Gail taught me a different side of the business in Kid’s. Martha exposed me to the Salon world and coaching people the right way. I think I learned a little bit from all my RMM’s though even the bad one.


Blake and Jack also were a big part to my development. Here you had two people that were at the top of the food chain but also were great coaches and mentors to their people. That was the thing about Nordstrom and the inverted pyramid. Sometimes we at the store level would scoff at the idea of an inverted pyramid. “Yeah right” was the response most of the time. But in practice Nordstrom held the salespeople in such high regard it worked.


Life lessons


In life you have to take the journey as a learning process. You can’t go through life not making any mistakes. These are lessons to learn from to become better and stronger as a person. Business is the same type of process. It’s best to take your ego aside and implement the things you learn to always move forward. The difficult piece to this is to identify this when its happening instead of later down the road.


No break


I didn’t have much of a break from Nordstrom before I started Target, maybe a week. I did that by design since I had a severance package and wanted it to feel like a bonus of sorts. Bonus for being happier I was thinking.


I was hired as a Soft-lines ETL or Executive Team Leader as they termed it at Target. With my vast shoe experience it made since to start in soft-lines. I think at this point I was going on over 20 years in the footwear industry. This job was more of a retail job as a whole than being defined as still being in the footwear industry. The goal was to work my way through all the departments to eventually become a STL or Store Team Leader.


ETL Training


The first few months I worked through a training workbook and worked in several departments to get through each chapter of the book. Target was big on clean aisles and as an ETL you had to make sure that was the case at all times. This included cases off the floor and everything neat and in order. Spills were all too common too since there were liquid products so we had to keep on top of that too to reduce slips and falls.




My first STL was George. He was a great guy and very personable. He was fit and handsome and had an amazing smile. His sense of humor cracked me up too as we had a lot of good times and laughs together. He had a great team of ETL’s who all liked each other and were good at what they did. George was great at coaching at training people. He was really patient and talked clearly to make sure you understood what he expected. It was an amazing experience working with him. I knew from the very beginning Target wasn’t my destiny but George made it seem okay.


I was nominated by George to be the store “Safety” ETL as well. This meant I was responsible for reducing the accidents in the store. Whenever a “Guest” as Target would call the customers, had an accident the MIC or Manager in Charge at the time would have to fill out all the paperwork and note what happened. Usually it was because a liquid from a container leaked out and no one caught it. I made sure the ETL’s would look for these types of things as they were doing their rounds and we reduced our accident events by 50%.


Dress codes different


Everyday at Nordstrom I’d get ready with a different suit each day, shirt and tie and groomed well. It was different at Target. You had a uniform basically. Not really but kinda… Khaki pants and a red shirt. You could have different types of red shirts but a t-shirt was frowned upon as an ETL. It had to be a collared shirt like a polo or a button up dress shirt. Solid color too.


This alone was a big departure for me. I decided I missed the suits which was weird because sometimes the suits got old too. I think it was mostly the atmosphere I missed. Piano music and upscale customers to basic items at a great price. Different crowd for sure.


Shoe department


The shoe department I was in charge of was a little more upscale than Koby’s was but it made me feel like I took a step backwards. Target did a good job of having stylish styles at a price. Most of the brands were their own private label brands like Merona or Exhilaration. They started to eventually venture into designer brands they commissioned but still on the cheaper end of the spectrum.


Nordstrom was a high bar that I finally reached and now I had to dig deep and find myself again. What did I want? Where was I going. Was I still a Shoe dog? At Nordstrom during the Recognition meetings I was the instigator of the Shoe Dog bark. The shoe buyers would usually sit in the back and if they’d mention the shoe areas I’d start a “Bark chant” that would go like “Woof Woof Woof” in a deep tone. The GM would always comment “The shoe dogs are barking”. I missed that… I knew the path but did I really want to venture down this path or start looking now.




Then there was Zappos still. I felt I was missing out on something. Every time I talked to Jon or Fred they were doubling their business. Pretty exciting. Eileen joined Zappos soon after I quit Nordstrom. She had worked with me in Arden Fair and moved on to Nordstrom in SF Centre and also had a brief stint at Target.  I felt like the kid who was looking at the friend who got a pair of Levis. Since my dad worked at Sears I got “ Sears Toughskins”. My dad would always say they were better than Levis. 


Diane kept cheering me on to stick it out. “You will make a great Store Manager someday” she’d say. Problem was I didn’t know if I believed that or worse yet, even wanted that…


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

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