Black Ops. “Retail This.”



is three-sided. We earn it on the front side, invest it in-between, and spend it on the back. Many ways exist to handle each. Standing tough on the front end is only a piece of the puzzle. Investing is an entire stand alone story. Leveraging it on the retail back side is a saga loved by all.  Who doesn’t luxuriate in retail war stories?


Using simple brute dollar power is crap.  Great news.  Investors have special powers, ones about which others are clueless. No? Yes.  Retailers do not exist in a vacuum. Any investor knows that. But what do you do about it? Use it to get more. You can and your working dollar deserves the support.  We do. But we are responsible to learn those available angles.  Example.  Retail is struggling to meet the brick-and-mortar and online balance pay.


Active investors know markets and economic conditions.  Example.  Retail is struggling to compete with Amazon.  Retail’s brick locations have been losing sales for years. When retailers struggle, you can win. It’s called business. It’s what they do to you–use it back. Here’s how to leverage slow sales using a BBBY example.


retail, mall, escolator
Keeping your money is just as important as earning it–and it’s fun for the non-phobic negotiator.


doesn’t take place at midnight–not legitimate retail anyway.  NVG do not work under florescent lighting.  It has to be dark for night vision.  But you do have built-in advantages when you hit the retail front.  Surprise isn’t it–they know you’re coming.  Think Best Buy’s door greeter, the uniformed guide/guard who looks you in to see what you’re bringing.


It isn’t a lazy Saturday full of gauzy clouds.  It’s 8:45 PM in the rain and I glance at the annoying over-sized postcard.  “$5 Off.”  BED BATH & BEYOND.   Typical.  Snugged into the back bays of Best Buy the STOCKjAW crew legs over the rain-glistened four-lane.



city, rain, night
Commando shopping. Hit ’em near closing time. They wanna make sales, and leave quickly also.


and cave people don’t shop Best Buy.  They slide over to BBBY for deals on cookware.  Her birthday my money.  I pinch the piss-ant postcard.  The doors slide back displaying a tomb of warmed over florescent retail horror.  It’s a Twilight Zone retail roam, sans shoppers.  “Perfect,” I think.  Modern shoppers are civilized, unless it’s Black Friday.  Hypnotized may be a better word.  They pay what’s posted and make no fuss.  Is that the only “American way?”  No.


She stares.  I stare.  She glances down before shuffling off to find her manager, Tim.  I know it’s Tim because that’s what she said upon fielding my question.  Names twist in that personal element when negotiating.  “Negotiating” you ask?  Well, yes–and we had a starting point printed on a postcard.  Going personal’s good, as long as you only work the positive side.


Money goodness does not typically come in big bags or lump sums.  Instead, it’s created along the edges, in slices, one by one.  Those add up.  Check your mortgage interest total this tax season.


Gleaming Calphalon and Quisinart kitchen ware rise toward the ceiling in decorative arcs.  Downcast lighting gleams wildly off scads of pristine stainless.  Who knew this much cookware existed? 


At the time the market had bottomed.  With a snap of the fingers flaccid sales numbers settled over retail as the new retail normal.  Economists would later deem this time as the Great Recession, and the store displayed exactly that freshly dead look; musical cheer and jaunty displays presiding over the freshly dead, like a boom box at the South Pole.


Tim scans the stiff card.  “You can give this to the cashier at checkout.”  The Quisinart stainless steel hand whip is all steel.  Nice.  I set it back, nose down.  “Yeah, if we get that far,” I posit.  All relationships, long or short, possess power dynamics, active or latent.  Many shoppers could realize further the power both in their pocket and their position.  Think recession again.



It’s your money and  retail managers want it.  Gently turn up the heat.  Most of brick-and-mortar retail is under pressure.  Use that leverage–they would, if it were their’s.  It’s your money, unless you give it away.


Calphalon cookware and Quisinart whip,” I point.  He again glances up form the 11″ x 5″.  “But this isn’t what we really want,” I stare as he looks back at the coupon.  “It’s a perverse incentive,” I say.  “It encourages me to buy less, not more.”  Now Tim’s confused, silent, and listening.  Trump may be many things, but he understands the power of destabilizing a negotiating opponent.


People’s aversion to what they call “confrontation” is now ingrained and normalized.  Forget that.  It’s your money.  Smart negotiation is done quietly, with a peeking smile waiting to come out.


Any half-astute child headed for finance, or dentistry will tell you to “buy in bulk and save.”  All small edges gained or saved add up in time.  Most will also point out that any coupon set in dollars, rather than percents, is a perversity.  Smart retail companies know that shifting inventory quickly is key.



retail, suits
Retail is trapped. Online is streamlined and cost effective, while brick-and-mortar is immediate. Physical locations suffer additionally due to the “showrooming” effect–lookers who then buy online for the price. Result? B&M and the managers responsible for those sales will often reward on-site buyers, in an attempt to move product and create repeat business at the store. Use that.


-and-mortar is not warehousing and warehousing is lost revenue.  It’s cost.  In fact, the very best business models do not include warehouses.  Think Etsy, Wayfair, Alibaba.  The best value in a coupon based in dollars is to buy the minimum only.  It’s simple math.  A $5 coupon with a $15 minimum is worth 33.3% maximum.  It’s worth only 20% when spending $20, and even less the more you spend.  Buy the minimum, or do something else.  We did something else.


Negotiating comes in different forms.  Department store example.  The leather jacket I’d purchased two weeks earlier was now on sale for $40 less.  I suggest a refund for the difference.  “Why should I refund the difference?” the manager asked.  Responding clearly and firmly, “because good business is repeat business and repeat business is accomplished by creating happy customers who feel they are being treated fairly.”  Bingo.  A set of Jacksons, back in my pocket.


Tim seems perplexed at my angle.  That’ when he again extends the postcard in my direction.  “There isn’t anything I can do,” he concludes.  I do not receive either the postcard or his response.  “Wrong answer Tim,” and I look around the almost empty store.  He notices.  “The economy’s now in a ressession” I state.  “Your numbers are down–I know they’re down,  Out of all the economic sectors Consumer Discretionary is the first to go.  That’s now.”  Again, I glance around, as he gathers.


Lookers look while shoppers buy, and sometimes pay too much.  Calmly use your angles.  We do.  We also remember that if we can’t quietly walk our without it, that shows.  In any negotiable situation that’s when we’re about to pay too much.


“But I can help,” I say finally.  Now he’s listening, at a level previously unreached.  To our right the cash registers register only silence.  Again I tell him.  “Your cookware is great–and I didn’t come in to look, depending.  For one thing, I like this.”  I point to the sweet all-stainless Quisinart hand blender.  “Make this,” I point to the card he yet holds, “a percentage offer and I’ll buy that for sure, and maybe more.”



Bathrooms are very personal space. Everyone’s vision is different. Most of us can’t afford what we’d really like–like this yo.


passivity will cost you.  Modern Americans live better than most.  The affluence we enjoy was earned.  Over time we’ve been conditioned to believe in the marked price.  It’s a form of mass hypnosis.  Mix in the bizarity  of confrontation phobia.  Odd looks from the uninitiated and passive don’t bother us.


Individualism is not discovered through conformity, even though many think so.  Conformity is in part a desire to not be seen as different.  Those who take care of their money are different.  Silence is the norm.  The silent will pay the norm, and be paid the norm.  Money comes to those who demand it.  The silent are always charged for being passive, because they accept such.


The work for your money doesn’t end once you’ve earned it.  Standing behind your dollar is equal to earning it again.  You stood then, why not stand at the other end as well?  En mass we now seem to have simply accepted the fallacy that negotiation is dead.  Retail loves that.  Your boss loves that.  They’re paid daily by those adhering to said.  Most retail managers have the power to move.  Tim did, to 20% off, rather than $5.  Showing him the copy of sector performance helped, as it starkly displayed his consumer discretionary sector living deep in the economic basement.



Always looking for the good stuff.pig-3033965_1920


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Thanks for Reading.

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3 thoughts on “Black Ops. “Retail This.”

  1. When you do go to pay, you have another card to play.
    Hand them two cards your credit card and your cash discount card.
    Offer to pay cash for a additional two – three % discount.
    You may get a chance to talk to Tim again. 🙂


    1. Perfect. That’s what we call incisive thinking. And when you do it, scan for the perplexed look–“Huh?” You may indeed require Tim again, to snap the cashier out of a mental vapor-lock.


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