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Three Reps who Stayed in Touch #169

Three Reps who Stayed in Touch

Blog #168  I talked about the quote These Mountains you are carrying. In this blog I want to talk about three reps who stayed in touch.

As a buyer you always wonder who your true friends are. By true friend, I don’t mean like when you were younger and hung out all the time either. There is a moment when your buying power goes away and so do the reps. But in some cases there are some who stick around. These are three of those people who are still my friends today.


Steve Rutledge


 Has been a rep for a few different brands but pretty much stayed with the same parent company. I first met Steve in Arden Fair when I was an Asst. in Ladies Shoes. He was always nice to me and finally started a working relationship in the Palo Alto store. I always enjoyed our conversations as he was such a nice guy. And interesting too. He was also a musician and was pretty tech savvy. Whether it was the latest phone or computers we always had fun talking about stuff we enjoyed aside from work. He was my Ked’s rep in both Palo Alto and Valley Fair. We grew the business substantially and always had fun picking out the latest print for the “Champion” style.

After I left Nordstrom he would always give me a call when he was in the Eastbay to meet for lunch. I lived in Dublin at the time so he had several accounts that were close by including Nordstrom still. I was struck at first on the why? It was common to not hear from anyone once the ink in the pen dried up. This happened to me when I went from BP shoes to Women’s shoes as well. Of course everyone would be cordial and professional but the weekly phone calls went away.

”Hey Mike, how’s it going?”, he would start out with. “I’m taking sizes for Nordies in the morning in Pleasanton, wanna grab lunch?”. His voice always so cheerful, how can you say no to that? I appreciated him. He was true and again such a great guy to hang out with.


Steve Reinhart


Steve and the infamous “stop writing shoes like a pussy” remark. That was a favorite story we revisited time and time again. “Remember when you told me to stop writing shoes like a pussy?” he’d say. “Then you’d put 1’s in front of my numbers to make them 12’s instead of 2 per size. We doubled our business too that year in Palo Alto. We had similar success in Valley Fair but not as dramatic because Joe was a pretty aggressive buyer too, who was before me.


Living in Oregon he would usually stay a few days when he came out to take sizes so he’s call me to see about lunch or dinner. Steve and I would enjoy nice dinners together when I was at Nordstrom and we would carry on the tradition after I left as well. Having a nice steak dinner together was all too common for us. He would share funny rep stories of his adventures as a rep and I would share my new Target world with him. He was such a good guy and had a great sense of humor. We truly enjoyed each other’s company and that’s why we are still friends today.


Of course it helps we are in the same Fantasy Football group but even before that we stayed in touch. Steve was also one of the first vendors for Zappos. He was pretty well known in the Nordstrom Northern California group so when Many ex-Nordstrom Buyers made the move to Zappos he made it happen. Legend has it he was one of the first 4 brands on the site but that’s another blog.


Tom Austin


Here’s another guy who basically was with Clarks the whole time I knew him. Met him first in Arden Fair as the Asst. He is truly the nicest rep around. I say that cautiously because there are a lot of great reps out there but I’m sure people would agree Tom is one of the best. When I moved to Palo Alto and like Steve Rutledge and Steve Reinhart this is when we worked business together. The “Sunbeat” was the Clarks staple item. It was a three strap comfort sandal that sold like hotcakes. It usually was a part of the big Anniversary Sale held in July.

When I was in Valley Fair, Tom would show up with a Double Latte every time. I remember one day a few reps did that so I was super wired already by the time Tom showed up with his offering. We would laugh at the quantities we were writing for Anniversary because they were so large. Have to keep “Jet” happy I would tell Tom. It was equally comical when Clarks would introduce another “Sun” style. This one with prettier straps or none at all.


 Like a favorite relative there was a bond or closeness I felt with him. I trusted him deeply. I knew he always had my best interest in mind. I would trust Tom with my checkbook. I never did of course but I would have. Like both the other guys Tom would call me whenever he was nearby for lunch. When I eventually went to Zappos I had the pleasure of working with Tom again and it was like we never missed a beat. Probably because he always stayed in touch…


In Closing


There are a bunch more examples of reps that stayed in touch with me but these guys stood out the most. In fact when I resurfaced at Zappos three years later our friendships and working relationships were that much stronger. It’s heartwarming to know people like you for who you are and not the pen you hold. I am appreciative of these guys and am friends still with all of them even though some have since retired.


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

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These Mountains you Are Carrying #168

These Mountains you Are Carrying

Blog #167  I talked about my time with Nordstrom is done. In this blog I want to talk about The quote These Mountains you are carrying

“These Mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” -Najwa Zebian. 

This quote resonated with me. The weight I had been carrying on my shoulders was not meant to defeat me but to be left in the past and used to grow with. I needed to turn the corner and start a new chapter. Maybe a transfer would have been the answer but there was a little resentment too. Basically I needed a fresh start.

After talking to the GM, I went to the store and Informed Kristin my intentions and how wonderful I thought she was. The fact I would miss the reveal of the new store was a disappointment but that was ok. Next, I went down to the department and told everyone I had two weeks left with them. My  following two weeks were wonderful and the team was such a great group of people. We had developed a pretty good team and had quite a few Pacesetters on the floor  now. After I told the team, I went up to tell Allison I was leaving which was equally tough. She was so amazing. Zoning out at my desk I started to reflect on my time at Nordstrom.

Martha and Michael


 Two amazing mentors and just great people. Martha was the epitome of someone who had it dialed. She was the blueprint I used for many years to come. Michael was someone who had wisdom. He had good instincts and I learned that from him.

Arden Fair


Arden Fair was my bright spot. To take a department from #20 to number 2 was quite the accomplishment. This experience taught me the importance of developing a great team. From Aaron and Candice to Rob my mentor. It was the best time I ever spent in retail. I looked up to both my store managers there, Jim and Jean Claude and have fond memories of what I accomplished. My knowledge was enhanced by working in Women’s, Salon, Kids and Junior shoes. All my RMM’s while I was at this location were amazing as well.

Palo Alto


In the Palo Alto store I think I grew the most as a person, because I had to turn around a tough business. It was tough as there was a lot of pressure from the store manager and the RMM, but support from Blake and Bobb Nunn which made it ok. Here I put into practice all that I learned in Arden Fair and eventually turned it around. This was a painful process though but I grew from it.



During the next few weeks I made calls to all my favorite reps and had amazing conversations. It was tough to say goodbye and I did not know if I’d ever cross paths with these amazing people. The shoe industry is a large industry but also very small. Relationships you build are nice and the funny thing was most of my friendships were with people in the industry. Now I’m moving away from that side. Target was a department store and the buying was done in Minneapolis so I’d miss the buying side. My last day came rather quickly and I said my goodbyes to  the team and to Chris. I was going to miss him. We went through a lot together and he was a good man. Usually we would  get together during the holidays so we built a friendship too.

One last Call


As I was leaving I get a call from the cashiers that someone wanted to talk to the manager. “ARE YOU THE MANAGER?” She went on a tirade of how her shoe broke and we needed to send someone to her house to pick it up. Several times I tried to tell her I was leaving the company but she wouldn’t listen to me. It was classic. After 2 to 3 times of trying to tell her I was quitting Nordstrom, I told her I was going to put her on hold and a manager would talk to her. “DON”T PUT ME ON HOLD!” she screamed. *click* Nordstrom music…

 I was going up the escalator as a Nordstrom employee for the last time,  As I was going up, an overwhelming sensation was overcoming me. A huge weight was being lifted from my shoulders. Happiness was definately the sensation I was feeling. Why did I think I was supposed to be carrying this burden, what was I thinking?  There also was feelings of so much gratitude for the Nordstrom family. Truly it was an amazing experience, something even to this day I am grateful for. Definately I am a better person today because of my Nordstrom experience.

At Nordstrom, I learned how to treat people like I would want to be treated. How to find solutions. People development. Driving a business and being rewarded for it. Most of all, I learned self-respect and confidence in myself. My Nordstrom experience wasn’t perfect but pretty damn close…


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

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My Time with Nordstrom is done #167

My Time with Nordstrom is done

Blog #166  I talked about why it’s Best to have options to make decisions. In this blog I want to talk about my time with Nordstrom is done.

In the last blog I mentioned I decided to talk to the GM for Northern California. We had a really good relationship so I felt I needed to at least talk this out. Problem was that Nordstrom is usually pretty political so not sure If this would be fruitful or not.

I get to San Francisco Centre early, so I grab a cup of coffee and decide to think through what I was going to say. Should I be completely honest or mostly honest. By that I mean should I air out all the dirty laundry or be politically correct. Fact was I didn’t know if I wanted to stay. After I finished my coffee I decided to walk the mall and then store to see how many familiar faces I could find.

San Francisco Centre was pretty much the same except for a few new stores here and there. As for familiar faces at Nordstrom, there were a few here and there but not many. I tried to avoid the shoe departments because I didn’t want to start any rumors of why I was there. The Salon department where I started was all new faces. Martha and Michael left years ago and most of the salespeople had moved on too. Was this a sign for me?



My dad had worked at Sears all his career. Starting in the toy department, he then moved on to sporting goods. He became a catalog Store Manager in Clovis after about 10 years. I remember helping him out a few times in the stockroom as an unpaid worker. Basically he gave me the retail bug. After my parents divorced he ended up moving to Idaho and managed a few catalog stores before he retired. He got bored after a few years and decided to manage a Habitat for Humanity store. I guess I was used to people in our family having the same job for years and years. 11 years was a pretty good run, am I going to walk away from it now?

As usual, I get to her office 10 minutes early which was my thing. If you aren’t early your late was what I learned over the years. We sit down and exchange pleasantries. She was the ultimate cheer leader. I loved hearing her talk during the recognition meetings because she was so positive. I decided to tell her that I felt my review was unfair and needed to probably transfer. There would be support from her if there was an opening.

The meeting


While we were talking I asked her why I wasn’t considered for the buyer job. She told me that they thought I was a better manager and that’s where my strengths were. “They?” meant my RMM and her. For some reason my heart sank and knew I had to leave. I was pissed and relieved at the same time. This gave me my out. “My path isn’t being a department manager” I said. “Well maybe in five years or so another buy job will open up”, She said. But you said I’d be a better manager?

I reminded her of all the times I was buyer of the month and nominated for Anniversary cup. The many brands I turned into Nordstrom staple items that drove way more volume than the fashion items. Of course the Fashion items are more fun but volume and Profit is also important, or so I thought. Turning around Kid’s shoes in Arden, BP shoes in Arden and the Palo Alto store and having the best year on record there. Valley Fair was going through a remodel? That wasn’t my choice but my problem to solve. I was confident as soon as the Mall was back to normal we would kill it. But back to my issue. Burn out…

My time with Nordstrom is done


After a few rounds of back and forth we somehow got to a severance deal. Can’t remember how it was brought up but it was fair so I took it. If my numbers were good there may have been a different path but unfortunately I was going through a remodel. I wanted to see how the store ended up and knew it would bring amazing business too. I was done though. It was like the feeling of being cheated on. You have a hard time trusting after that happens. My conversation with the GM was mostly positive and we left on good terms. We genuinely liked each other but it was a tough scenario to figure out.  Bottom line was I needed to move on. My time with Nordstrom is done.

So this part was figured out. Part two would be do I move forward with the Target plan or do a last minute turn to Zappos. It became a pretty heated argument at home so I decided to stay the course with the Target plan. Guess I’ll have to learn to like the red shirt thing just like my Honda. Compromise…


Maybe I could get a red Polo dress shirt and it would be a little better? Good thing was I had a severance package deal and was going to start Target right away so it would be like a bonus of sorts. An odd feeling of relief overtook me the next day but at the same time a bit of sadness. I would have to make a ton of phone calls to my favorite reps and say good by to all my Nordstrom friends as well.


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

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Best to have options to make decisions #166

Best to have options to make decisions

Blog #165  I talked about how Nordstrom Consolidations sealed the deal. In this blog I want to talk about why it’s Best to have options to make decisions


Bill decides to leave Nordstrom for REI. That was disappointing but I probably was going to leave soon too. Our 2nd Asst. wanted Bill’s job so she asked me what I thought. Being in a distressed state of mind, I confided in her to stay in our department because I would be leaving soon and there would be opportunities for her on a much larger floor since Chris would more than likely get my position. I told her not to say anything but to just trust me.


The betrayal


Not 30 minutes later Kristin calls me up to her office. She was a little irritated at me that I mentioned this to the 2nd Asst. More so wanted to know if it was true. I told her I was weighing my options because I’d be a department manager going forward and wasn’t real happy about it. I respected her a ton and felt bad I couldn’t be totally honest but had to protect my family. I was really disappointed in our 2nd Asst. for throwing me under the bus. People…Had to laugh about it though. People show their true colors too often.


I get down to the department and wanted to lay into her so bad but I didn’t. Fuck it I thought. Not worth my time. Taught me a hard lesson not to open my big mouth unless I knew for sure I could trust the person. Guess I found out. While sitting at my desk, the phone rings. John from Zappos called me. “Funny I was going to call you guys again”, I said. He told me to talk to Fred. We had all worked together in Arden Fair so we had a comfort level with each other.


Zappos call


I call Fred up and he tells me they have been doubling their business each year. He told me they really needed someone with women’s experience. The whole idea of Zappos was exciting to me. I felt Nordstrom gave me great experience and with all the great relationships I had in the vendor community, I could make a difference.  I told him I would talk to my wife and let him know where we were with it all. I didn’t want to waste his time if it was a no again.


I get home and it was still a no. “Too risky”, she said. We have a mortgage and small kids to think about. She felt I’d make a great store manager. Was glad that there was someone with confidence in my corner. I wasn’t sold on the Target thing still but I wanted to keep Zappos as an option still. I may have to just make an executive decision at some point. I called Fred the next day and told him the story. He understood but was disappointed. I could sense his passion for the company and so wanted to be a part of it. Maybe one day…


Two options


11 years with Nordstrom, and two solid opportunities. I had a few other irons in the fire but nothing real firm. If I had to pull the trigger with Zappos, that option was still there for me but it would be against my wife’s will. My only regrets in this whole process were I should have called Jack or Blake but my mind wasn’t in a good place at this point.


I was going to see the regional GM tomorrow to see what the Nordstrom play was.  I really didn’t know where this conversation was going to go. What was I trying to gain? With a few options at least I had a little leverage. I decided since I had a few options I could ask for a transfer but it would have to be out of the area. Southern California could be an option. The other option would be to push for a severance package since my job was changing.


Bottom line


I was done here in Northern California though regardless, just needed closure. Quite honestly this was a little scary for me. I had a comfort zone here even though it was stressful. I had seen so many changes in Nordstrom and it was part of my life. This was going to be hard no matter what. I knew going into this meeting that the answer would be political and force me to make a change.


When reality hits you like that there is a certain amount of soul searching that needs to be done. For myself I really wanted to take the Zappos route. But in marriage, there is compromise. Kinda of like when I wanted a 4×4 truck and had to settle for a Honda Accord. Not that Hondas are bad but just more practical. Needless to say I was driving a Honda. At least it was green my favorite color…


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

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Nordstrom Consolidations sealed the deal #165

Nordstrom Consolidations sealed the deal

Blog #164  I talked about the tipping point for me. In this blog I want to talk about how Nordstrom Consolidations sealed the deal.

Nordstrom decides to take the consolidations a step further by having the San Francisco buyers buy for the Northern California region. I was a lead Buyer for the East Bay side at the time. This meant I helped coach the other buyers on direction. With this move I’d be a department manager instead. Am I going to have to take a pay cut I wondered.

My RMM shows up unannounced again. This was so rude. All my previous RMM’s always gave that courtesy so you could plan your day. This would always put things in a tailspin. He informs me of the move to department manager with a wry smile. I would stay at the same salary. Ok not that bad this time I thought.


Too fast, he whips out a review and proceeds to tell me my “Opportunities.” Most were lies and totally not my character. This was a hit job basically but maybe I deserved it for being insubordinate. He put down in the review that reps complained about me often which was not true. I had great relationships with all my reps so I called him out on that one. In all my years I had stellar reviews from many different RMM’s. Never had more “opportunities” than “strengths”. He was out to get me.

“If you want me to quit, I’ll make it easy for you.” I told him. “Just be a man and say it to my face and I’ll give you my notice today” Wow it came out. He looked at me and said he wanted me to just work on the opportunities. “That’s what I thought” I said. This review is something you give someone that you want to force out. Again he said he wanted me to work on my opportunities. If they were real, I’d be able too.

I knew when he left I’d be calling the recruiter from Target to accept. Fuck him…11 years of good service wasn’t good enough. All the people I promoted, all the new brands I brought to Nordstrom


The other side of the coin was all the great relationships I developed over the years. Going to Target I wouldn’t be in contact with all my friends in the Shoe industry. We were having great success with some brands even though our business was tough.

  • Dean with Wolff shoe company and our Sesto and Vaneli business was great in Valley Fair too.
  • Doug Higgins and I developed a great Munro business.
  • Our Cole Haan sales were through the roof thanks to Dan Butler and his attention to our store.
  • Tom Faulk with Ferragamo helped improve our Salon business
  • Terry Callahan and Nickels business was equally as hot.
  • Sudini and Steve Reinhart came out with a new comfort sandal selection to grow their spring business so it wouldn’t be just boots.
  • Steve Rutledge with Keds and I always had fun together
  • Tom Austin and Clarks and his Double lattes and many, many more friends and reps.


I’d also miss my relationships with my peers too. Hearing Joe’s escapades and Marty’s stories. Claudia and Daryl and the Salon business. Doubt Target had a salon business lol. Kiyoko and Tim in Walnut Creek. 11 year’s worth of relationships would also change to some degree. Would I even maintain them I wondered going to Target. Blake Nordstrom and Jack Minuk visits, would also be oddly missed. Even though they would always be intense, I liked it. I had great respect for both of these guys and always learned something from them. I probably should have reached out to them and really don’t know why I didn’t. My mind was in a bad place at this point so I guess it was just that simple. I was so done…

Fact of the matter was, I didn’t know If the red shirt thing would work for me either. Not to be prudish but I liked dressing up. Before I called Target I wanted to make a few more calls. One was to Zappos the other the GMM for our region. I had a pretty good relationship with her.

I called her up and set up a time to meet with her. I’ll call Zappos too in the next few days.


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

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The Tipping Point for me #164

The Tipping Point for me

Blog #163  I talked about how Sales continued to plummet and pressure increased. In this blog I want to talk about the tipping point for me.

One Thursday we get in over 100 cases of shoes. Keep in mind each case could hold between 12 -24 pairs of shoes. Our stockroom was small for the size of business we did so it was always tight for space. Chris and I did our best to get all the new styles out to  the floor and stage the boxes near where they should go in the stockroom. We determined we would have to shift the entire stockroom to get everything off the floor.

The Plan

Of course Chris volunteered to work in the back with the team but I thought it would be a great opportunity to have some bonding time with everyone. The plan was to have each salesperson work in the back with me each hour. Another salesperson would work with the stock guy. I took my tie and jacket off as it was going to be sweaty work. We were making great progress and I was happy this would mean great business for the weekend as the stockroom would be perfect.

The RMM comes in unannounced after lunchtime. He tells me to stop what I’m doing and to put my tie on and watch the floor. “The 1st Asst. should be doing this, not you”, he tells me. After explaining to him the game plan and why I wanted the bonding time with the team he tells me to meet him in the store managers office upstairs.

Power Trip

“WHEN I TELL YOU TO DO SOMETHING, THAT’S WHAT YOU DO” he said in a very stern voice. “DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?”. I nodded to him I understood. “NOW WHAT ELSE CAN I DO FOR YOU?” My blood was boiling at this point. He was just being a dick. Power play to show who was boss. I was at the point that I didn’t care what happened to me. “YOU CAN GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE SO WE CAN FINISH WHAT WE WERE DOING?” Did I just say that? It kinda just came out…I thought for sure he’d fire me…

His face turned beet red and jammed his stuff in his brief case and stormed out. Not a word to be said. I went downstairs and proceeded to finish what I was doing. Chris asked if I was ok, he could tell something was up. I told him what happened and he chuckled and said that was pretty crappy of him to treat me like that. He was also worried I’d get written  up, I told him I didn’t care at this point, I owed it to the team not to be pushed around like  this.

The Call

I got a call from the Target recruiter later in the day. We have some timeslots for your interview. I took the closest date on my next day off during next week. No matter what they offered the answer was going to be yes…

Interview day was here. I was prepared to make the move. The interviewer was super nice and cheery. I liked her right away. She explained that Target was focused on the customer experience and a clean presentation. The ETL program or “Executive Team Leader” was a training program to grow Store Managers or STL’s (Store Team Leader) as Target called them. I would work in a training store for a few weeks then transfer over to Milpitas as  a Softline’s ETL.

Benefits were about the same except the discount was lower. Target had much more items the family could use so that was ok. They offered me a higher salary than what I was making at Nordstrom. At the end of it they told me to talk it over with my family and let them know in the next few days. The answer was going to be yes but I wanted to tell Diane everything first.

Pros & Cons time


  • Benefits about the same
  • Salary Higher
  • Growth seemed to be really good
  • Thought about being a store manager at Nordstrom at some point
  • Wouldn’t have to deal with my RMM anymore
  • Wouldn’t have to deal with my RMM anymore (Yes I said it twice)


  • Miss my team
  • Had a great Store Manager
  • Time served at Nordstrom
  • Loved the shoe business
  • Liked going to the shows and seeing friends I made over the years
  • Liked wearing suits vs Khakis and a red shirt
  • Customers were awesome at Nordstrom too, not sure about how Target’s customer were
  • Grass isn’t always greener – The unknown factor

All in all it was worth the risk and since I was miserable the Pros would win this time.


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

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Sales continue to Plummet and Pressure increases #163

Sales continue to Plummet and Pressure increases

Blog #162  I talked about how Joe came back to Nordstrom. In this blog I want to talk about how Sales continue to plummet and pressure increases.

The store was having really tough business. If we were having bad business but the store was making the numbers that would be one thing but everything was tough. There was a lot of excitement for the new store. Kristin was so great at being positive and cheerful. She truly was an amazing store manager. Construction work was breaking ground in the back now too so it was a lot of fun. We had to park away from it all to give the customers a chance to find parking.

Rmm Says no to my son’s Baseball award

Store visits by the RMM increased so he could see the progress of the remodel. He came in one day and I asked him if I could take a few hours in the afternoon to see my son play baseball. I normally just went if it was in the evening or a day off but his coach told me he was being awarded a trophy this time. “On a Saturday?” was the response. The floor will be covered , I said. With the remodel we need you on the floor all day… I was so pissed, seriously…To make matters worse he did the dust thing again…

After he left I had to take a walk. I was fuming. Sometimes I would work 12 hour days, gave my all to the company. Who denies a parent this? Especially since business was really slow. When I got back someone wanted to talk to the manager. “Is This Mike Normart?”


She was a recruiter. Super friendly too. My response would typically be that I wasn’t looking and was happy where I was. But this time I was willing to listen. “Target is all about customer service.There is a need for a Store Manager Trainee position. It’s a 6 month training then you get placed in a store  as an Executive Team Leader or ETL. Then you would work all the different areas of the store then finally be promoted.” It sounded great.

I kept thinking retail is retail. Maybe I should consider it. Especially since I really didn’t know where I stood with my RMM, but it was getting old. Kristin was great, I loved my team and all my peers. Down deep I felt I was probably ok and wouldn’t lose my job but the big question was “Did I want my job?”

Pros & Cons

I started going through the Pro’s and Con’s checklist and I was in the middle. 11 years, didn’t want to take this lightly. Over this time I bled Nordstrom blue, it was a lifestyle for me at this point. Usually, I was proud to tell people where I worked. But…I wasn’t happy.

Sales continue to plummet and pressure increases

This was the bottom line though.As much as I tried. I couldn’t shake it. Trust me, I really tried but I was miserable, Kept  thinking over and over “Life is too short to be unhappy…” My dad strikes again…


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

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Joe comes back to Nordstrom #162

Joe comes back to Nordstrom

Blog #161  I talked about our Valley Fair support team. In this blog I want to talk about when Joe came back to Nordstrom


Joe called me quite frequently at Nordstrom when I was in Palo Alto and kept in touch when he went to work for Macy’s. He was a smart merchant so I always enjoyed our conversations.  Plus he was this good looking single guy who worked out and dated a lot of different people. He always had interesting stories. I found a way to make him laugh a lot so we had a good relationship there.


Coming back to Nordstrom


He called me one day and said he was trying to come back to Nordstrom. Of course I thought Oh Oh I wonder if I’ll get transferred? Never good when your RMM has a hair up his ass for you, anything could happen. Remember the saying “You’re only as good as your last flash.” Truth was not many people would want to go through a remodel like this so I felt assured of that.


He told me he talked to Jack and The RMM and the only opening was in the Hillsdale store. Joe was much more talented than running a small store but he wanted to get back in so he took it. The conversations we had were comical. “You wouldn’t believe how this store has been run…” It was good to have him back, he made me laugh a lot too.


SF Shoe Show


Somewhere in the conversation we started talking about the SF Shoe Show. Usually it was pretty small so we didn’t attend but a day trip might be worth a look. I called Daryl to see if he’d be interested in going to and he said he would, Great two guys I like  we could go in, walk the show and have lunch and catch up. Uhhhh, Joe started to say…The RMM wants to come too. Great…


We walk the show as  we expected it was pretty quiet. They combined the Gift show so that was interesting. We left for lunch and just grabbed a quick bite. Didn’t catch up as I would have liked with Daryl or Joe but we all had good conversation with each other. Our RMM wasn’t really that bad of a guy but he had a power trip that was tough to deal with sometimes. He could be personable when he wanted to be. All in all we all had a good time together. 


The Assault


We head back and start walking through a sketchy area of SF but we were all used to it I guess. We end up standing on a corner waiting for the light to turn. Out of nowhere this huge guy on a bike suddenly appears and smacks our RMM backhanded so hard you couldn’t help but hear it. We all stood shocked on what had just happen. As much as he would piss me off, this wasn’t funny. He basically just got assaulted…


“Do you want us to go get him? “ I said. He’s big but there’s three of us…I was imagining the three of us going after this guy in our suits. What a sight that would have been. No let’s just get back to the store, he said rubbing his face. This taught me a lesson I’ve taken with me in all my travel abroad. Be aware of your surroundings…


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

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Our Valley Fair Support Team #161

Our Valley Fair Support Team

Blog #160  I talked about a welcomed break from some stressful days. In this blog I want to talk about our Valley Fair support team.


Behind any successful leader is a support team that is top notch. By support I mean from the stock person to the clerical and all the Assts.




Lucky is a good thing. I have been fortunate to have had really great clericals in my time with Nordstrom. Ginger, Jamie, Stacey and Allison were all amazing. Allison was so good she could read my mind. It was almost like Radar in the series MASH. She kept me super organized which I appreciated. Somehow I nicknamed her “Sparky.” She was definitely the spark that kept things moving, similar to a spark plug so pretty sure that was the origin. I appreciated her so much.




In Arden Fair I had Aaron as a stock guy. He was amazing and over qualified for the position. He eventually got into sales, then management and we worked again together at Zappos. But you have to wait for that story. The Palo Alto store we had Neil and some others but he was the work horse. He helped get our stockroom together for all my big events. Now I’m in Valley Fair. I finally realized some of the best stock guys are potential salespeople. Douglas was great in the stockroom and he eventually went out to the floor and was great at that too. He had a lot of great qualities, very personable, great manners and a hard worker. Just an all-around good guy.




Chris too was an amazing person. Hard worker, funny, ambitious and really smart. He had no problem handling all the strong personalities we had on the floor. He did it in such a way that made everyone happy too. Just amazing. We had our share of good business but when the remodel hurt business you really see what you are made of. He did a great job of looking for solutions rather than focusing on the problem. It would have been easy just to blame it on the remodel but him and I worked hard at figuring out what we could control. He was great to work with. He had a great wife who was super nice and a growing family. Plus he had the biggest dog I think I’ve ever seen. A Mastiff. Beautiful dog.


Our 2nd Asst.


She was very ambitious and had a lot of good qualities to her. She was personable, dressed very fashionable and was a sponge taking it all in. She would let her position sometimes go to her head though and especially with the top salespeople. Looking back It was probably her way of keeping them in check. I felt she had a bright future ahead of her though as her good qualities outweighed the bad.




He was one of the brothers team we hired and both of them turned out great. His brother Luca was a little more intense, whereas Paolo was more easy going. For a 3rd Asst. He was perfect. You have to be the sponge as a third, taking it all in. It can be overwhelming starting out as an asst. watching the floor, balancing your selling time, hold people to the high expectations and try to maintain friendships you once had as a salesperson. Paolo was great though and just an overall good person.


Groundhog Day?


Here we go again, building a great team on an already good foundation. I felt this team was getting stronger every day.  Problem for me was the stress of the job and my RMM was getting the best of me and it was carrying to my personal life. I felt I needed a change. I loved Nordstrom with all my heart but couldn’t handle the balance. It was starting to wear on me.


Here I had another great team, store manager was awesome to work with and I loved the store. I felt I had  a pretty successful career and needed to figure out how I could be happy again. In hindsight I should have reached out to Rob or Blake or Jack. Instead I kept it inside. The bad feelings were festering inside me. I had no place to release my feelings. I should have joined a gym or did something like that and that’s where I failed.




I did call my dad and he talked me down from the ledge a few times. He always had a way of making me feel better. He also had another side of him I thought of too. I asked him once why he got married three times. He told me “Life is too short to be unhappy…” That stuck with me for some reason. I guess the next few weeks would tell me what to do. My gut said leave but my heart said stay. Here we go again…


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

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A welcomed break from stressful days #160

A welcomed break from stressful days

Blog #159  I talked about the beginning of the end. In this blog I want to talk about a welcomed break from some stressful days


So the days became extremely stressful. If it wasn’t a visit with the white glove treatment it was a daily phone call. Why is your business bad. Maybe because the customers think the mall is closed? Then question and answer time. Are they bringing out 4 pairs, are you missing sizes? Funny though he rarely did stock walks like Rob did. It was just a power play to remind me of who the boss was. If it was just me complaining I’d say it was on me but when everyone complains even the reps well…


Out of the Blue


One day a older woman comes in and I wait on her because it was busy and I was coming back from lunch. Jet already had 3 or 4 customers so I said I’ll just help her. We talk for a while and she ends up saying she wants to think about it. Ok embarrassing whenever the buyer walks a customer but after my week I had tough shoulders. Chris was the worst at giving me a hard time. “You need help selling buddy.” He had a thick accent which made it even more comical.


The lady calls me the next day and asks me to have lunch with her. “I was looking at your business card and I think we may be related.” She comes in and buys a pair of Ferragamo’s, I was looking for Chris to rub it in, but he was off the floor. I treat her to lunch at my go to spot and we start chatting.




Come to find out she was a second cousin to my grandmother Si. We talked about our family history and the hour went really quick. As soon as I got home I looked for my Genealogy book my grandmother gave me. Right in there, we were definitely related. She was a sweet person who would come in once a week and we would have lunch together. She would always buy something from me but return it later when I wasn’t there.


I didn’t mind, she was lonely. Her husband was a author and aerospace engineer for Ford Aerospace in the Bay area. He had past away so she was extremely lonely. I grew to like her over the next few months and looked forward to our lunches. Almost every meeting she would tell me stories of her life that were just fascinating. Being a petite lady and had a hard time walking so I had to slow down my stride. She never complained about things in her life other than just being lonely and missing her husband.


Mysteriously ends


Then it stopped…I don’t know what happened to her, she must have past away or something. We never got close enough to see each other aside from our weekly lunches. All I can say it was often a welcomed break from some stressful days. People come in and out of your life for a reason, she came into my life when I needed her and she needed me as well. 


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

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