I get it, the retail landscape is radically changing and as an Amazon Prime member I’ve been quick to order online. The disappearing stores and retail jobs are staggering. In 2017 there was a record high of nearly 7,000 retail stores closed and it appears that in 2018 nearly 5,000 bigger stores closed. My kids and I were so sad when Toys-R-Us shuttered last year.
But the Carson’s closing, as well as the closings of other iconic bricks and mortar stores is about more than just losing another place to shop. It’s about people and jobs and leadership and opportunities. I know that tech and innovation are creating those things in other ways but I just can’t lose sight of the enormous value that takes place in physical stores across the nation.
More than 20,000 people nationwide lost their jobs with the closings of the Bon-Ton chain including the Carson's stores. National retail job losses are staggering and apparently more than 66,000 retail jobs vanished in 2017. According to retail reports, these job losses tend to hit the young, elderly, women and minorities the hardest.
received an award at a holiday party.
From the day my mom joined Carson Pirie Scott until the day she retired 24 years later, she gave 120% towards everything she did. My mom started in the Men's department and I learned how to work hard and hustle from her. I learned retail can be chaos and my mom worked hard to bring order and exceptional service. My mom would share stories about work with us kids and she would talk about the importance of working hard and doing a good job at every task.
From the home front my siblings and I only added to the chaos. My dad was also working hard at his job but we never bothered him at work. We would call my mom at Carson's and would all be fighting and screaming at each other. I look back now and am mortified at our behavior. I do not know how she did not throttle us when she got home. We were horrible and she would address our issues over the phone with a pleasant, crisp voice. My mom is a saint.
My mom enjoyed working with the customers and the employees as well as the operations of retail. She worked very hard, continued to learn and develop her talents. She embraced career opportunities and was promoted throughout her career at Carson's. Mom become the Human Resources Manager in Joliet and then at Lincoln Mall in Matteson. Retail provided a career path for my mom as it does for countless others.
As the manager of HR my mom had a red carnation attached to her name tag. When she walked the floor this helped identify her and the other managers as problem solvers. When we were in high school we would stop in the store to say hi to my mom when we were out shopping. I loved going into her office and loved seeing her interact with the other Carson's employees. I thought it was so interesting to listen to them talk about schedules, upcoming sales, and events going on the store. I could see their collaboration and attention to detail. Sometimes I would go walk the floors with my mom. I loved this. My mom would talk with the other employees and was quick to help resolve problems for customers. I loved watching her defuse a situation and help take care of the customers. Retail can be crazy but my mom never seemed to be flustered by any situation. She would work through the problem, would help the employee, and would send away a happy customer. At Christmas time it would be super crazy and my mom would still be calmly focused on the problem and helping improve the situation. I learned so much from watching my mom in action. And if you are wondering, I think housewares is the craziest department and has the most issues! Retail provides opportunities for people to develop critical skills and help the company succeed.
There is such a focus on diversity and inclusion and treating people well right now but my mom has always been doing this! I've watched my mom work in the departments, interact with the management team, and help customers and no matter the person, no matter the situation my mom has always treated every person exceptionally well. She is kind, thoughtful, and inclusive in her work and I have always tried to follow her lead. I could tell others appreciated how much she valued each person as we walked the floors. Other employees were quick to chat with my mom and she always asked about their families and lives. Each person was important. I could tell in how they responded to her that they appreciated my mom too. My mom led the Sunshine Committee for years and always tried to brighten the work experience for the employees. I loved hearing her stories about the latest Sunshine Committee events. I tried to do similar things in my jobs too. My mom wanted people to enjoy their work experience, to find value in their contributions and to provide outstanding service. She led through example and it made a difference at Carson's. In retail you have an opportunity to interact with so many different people and it is so important to treat everyone exceptionally well.
Next time you need to shop...
I'm grateful for Carson's and other physical stores for the opportunities they provide for people to work hard, to develop their skills and to grow their careers. It's also an opportunity to interact with others and treat each other well. And, it's an opportunity to earn money and provide for your family. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to see my mom in action at Carson's and I learned so much from her at work.
So, next time you need to do some shopping I hope you'll do a mix of physical stores and on-line. And, go into Sears, I know 45,000 people that would appreciate it.
Love you mom!
* You may see the Carson's brand on-line. The company name was purchased in the fall of 2018.