Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)
There she was! None other than my old college "buddy" Polly! looking as perky as a nineteen year old college cheerleader, sweater and all, at the age of eighty or so.
"Polly!" I yelled across the length of the Kennedy Airport arrival area as I waved my "Time" magazine issue, with its 100 anointed famous people of the year cataloged in it, for attention. "What out-of-the-ordinary misdeeds are you up to in Mayor Bloomberg's happy hunting ground?"
I asked the question but I knew what the nature of the oncoming answer of classic misconnections would be like in advance. I knew from the past fifty years of friendship with corporate executive Paulette S.Tarr that she was surely up to some corporate business escapade... kosher, of course... but with loads of class.
"Mike-e-e! You old codger! You're looking great! And how's that darling of yours doing? Super, I pray, what with you as her husband for sixty-seven years."
"Gorgeous, as usual. We still take advantage of the Wednesday hotel specials that now include a luncheon. But, let's avoid your usual hokus pocus and just give me the straight, business facts this time."
"I'll keep it simple." she answered. "What with you over ninety I want to avoid normal, hearing complications with respect. I just closed an interesting, fresh contract for our company and we'll be ready to go full blast at our subsidiary in Phoenix. We're going to be in the small print business."
"Small print business?" That's great stuff! What with small business retailers and plants across the country needing a shot in the arm. I just finished crossing the country and visited with loads of retail families and they certainly can appreciate an effective low-priced, print investment. Congratulations, Polly! You picked it again."
"I know you know a winner when you bump into one, 'ol pal, but that's not what my company does. Our small-print business is not for mamas and papas on Main Street. We're going to handle big stuff for the humungous advertisers that really need small-print.
"Our customers are life insurance corporations, mortgage specialists, pharmaceutical empires, big and little banks, retail chains, automobile leasing companies and Wall Street marketers to name a very few.
"We sell print: very s-m-a-l-l print. Special print for pharmaceutical ingredients that may not work if you're pregnant, going to be pregnant or have dimples. If they're mixed with alcohol or other ingredients like chocolate malt you have to check with your doctor."
"Wow!" I exclaimed.
"We sell special print for giant furniture retailers who don't want returns. And for life insurance policies that are really death insurance policies, and that's why you don't need an examination. For banks we sell special small print for mortgages that can be renewed even if the house blew away in a sudden tornado.
"Special print is available for leased automobiles that zoom up to 160 miles per hour and use batteries. Special print for suburban family vans that are already "there" before you start from "here." Special print for corporate stock issues that only rise and are profit tax free."
"Gee! Polly it's all unbelievable!"
"It's not unbelievable print. It's unreadable print. It's print that pops up on your screen right after all the unbelievable pitches and starts to fade in less than a blink. Now you see it and now you don't.
So again you may be asking- for the 19th time - what does all this "hazerei" about fine-print have to do with me, my furniture store and my life?
Well, if you compete for the hearts and minds of furniture consumers with the giant big boxes and mass merchants, you need to stay away from my old friend Polly and her fine-print sales pitch.
The big guys can afford to hire Polly to make their print small, because they have low prices and huge advertising budgets to attract the masses. If you aren't so big, my suggestion is to make your print HUGE. Explain to potential customers what you do and what you don't do in big print. If you offer design services, tell them what they can expect of you and what you expect them to do as well. If you have a return policy, LET THEM KNOW THAT AS WELL!
Some big furniture companies can afford to list the "side effects" of doing business with them in tiny print. Its the kind of fine print that's only read when something goes terribly wrong with product quality, delivery or service. But as an independant, you can't be associated with corporate giants who sell a cure for something simple that carries the risk of a broken hip, depression or worse.
And here is Poly's card.
Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90
Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. See the new YouTube music video staring me, Grandpa Mike-e-e! with my granddaughter Becca in a supporting role at http://bitly.com/qALkrX
About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)
Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.
Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.
Graduated high school at 16.
Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.
Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.
Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.
Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.
Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.
Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.
Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.
Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.
Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.
He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."
Retired from retail management at age 70.
BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.
Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home
Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.
At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.
Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,
IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.
At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.