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.

SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...

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

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