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Furniture Retail Tip #6 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - Quality Salespersons Make Strangers Happy

Furniture World Magazine


Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)

Quality salespersons in retail furniture stores sell themselves first. Their quality ideas follow. When I was a ten year old skinny kid and wanted to sing Gilbert and Sullivan's Lord High Executioner part in the "The Mikado" with the school glee club the teacher turned me down for the part because when I turned sideways my 65 pounds disappeared.  And at thirteen when my older brother's kid had a bar-mitzvah and they lifted me onto a kitchen chair to sing the Torah blessings I turned sideways and my 70 pounds disappeared.

At 18, I sold myself as a tiny bedding retailer and manufacturer. At 19, I sold myself as an assistant and secretary to the V.P. of Purchasing of the Tootsie Roll Corporation and at 24 I sold myself as Director of Personnel for its 500 employees. I turned sideways very slowly.

In 1946 I joined my suddenly widowed sister as President of her tiny retail company on Long Island and stayed on for 46 years creating custom designing for over 20,000 children's bedrooms. Yes! I sold myself over and over again and believe I made those 20,000 "kids" and their parents happy.

Have you ever thought about what makes an individual a happy salesperson? Good commission? Getting rid of ancient inventory? Pleasing your boss? Making a job steady? Yes! All the above.

But the happiest, happiest salesperson and the best, best salesperson is the individual who makes other people happy.   "Other people" meaning the customers. Happy for being pleased. Happy for being sold by a stranger who cares. Happy, that it's not just the price that seems fair but that the caring is free.

Which reminds me: It was part of our selling procedure to visit the "kids" bedroom after a sale was concluded with a deposit. In this instance the pieces purchased was a twin headboard, night table, dresser, mirror, desk and small armoire. But when I saw the bedroom I thought that the armoire would crowd the room even though there was space for it. I suggested to the family: dad, mom and the sixteen year old teenager that we cancel the piece.
Before I left, the "Dad" got me in a corner and exclaimed: "Are you nuts, Mike? What kind of a salesman are you?  There goes a chunk of your commission."

"Not important, Mr. Tuff. Now that I've seen the room I really think we'd be crowding the room with the armoire. In my book, a teenage bedroom calls for Four S's: sleeping, storage, study and an overall solitude space-area for thinking. The armoire fits the room but crowds the thinking function. Let's try it. If necessary we can still add the piece and my commission.

"And come to think of it, you really should take a good look at the layout of the double closet interior, in the room. I think you can pick up a chunk of free storage."

Of course, a sale always makes the big boss happy. But it's the whole transaction between the customer and the salesperson that counts. Including the customer smiling when they say "We'll take it." And your knowing that they'll be back again after they tell their neighbors and jealous relatives what a "good time" they had spending their hard earned cash.

Yes! The whole sales event can be an everybody pleasure... including the company's accountant.

Thanks for listening.

Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90

Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: grandpamike-e-e!@furninfo.com

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.

Grandpa Mike-e-e

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