Management Lessons of a Failed Company

by Christopher Tingley (Author)
©2021 Monographs VIII, 110 Pages


This book is a look inside the day-to-day life of a retail manager as he witnessed from the front lines a company take the country by storm. Through a model of selling low priced clothing partnered with celebrity endorsements, the company’s rise was as big as their fall. After over a decade of teaching, the author, now a marketing and strategy professor, recalls his former life in retail. In a light-hearted and funny first-person narrative, the author takes you on a ride through his time with the now defunct clothing retailer Steve and Barry’s. He shares the lessons he learned from inside the store while watching mistakes made along the way. Through stories of being robbed at gunpoint, finding a dead body in the dumpster, and working to the point of exhaustion, the reader is given a firsthand account of the best and worst practices in store management. Designed to introduce students to business, management, entrepreneurship, and retail, it allows students to answer the question "Do I really want to be a manager?"

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Cost of Training
  • 2. Celebrity Endorsements
  • 3. Visual Audits
  • 4. Loss Prevention
  • 5. Armed Robbery
  • 6. Inventory Control
  • 7. Time Off
  • 8. Black Friday
  • 9. Christmas Party
  • 10. My Flight to Corporate
  • 11. Hiring and Promotions
  • 12. A Facelift
  • 13. Employee Relations
  • 14. I Quit
  • Glossary of Terms

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In July of 2006, I had just recently completed my MBA. I had graduated 2 years earlier with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts, and I wanted to add a level of business acumen to my resume. I might have been young at this time, but I felt like I was well prepared and was ready to become part of the business world. I had been employed full time since my sophomore year in high school working in kitchens, video stores, and in radio. I cut my hair short, put away my black t-shirts sporting heavy metal band logos and packed my bags. I moved south where I wouldn’t have to see snow ever again.

I had been told throughout my education that there were jobs available and all it took was a good degree, hard work and dedication to make a career for myself. My professors told me that an MBA was a direct ticket to employment. I was confident that, despite moving to a new city away from home, all I had to do was walk in and tell people I had an MBA and they would hire me. I had my elevator speech ready to go, armed with my sales pitch of a communications background and a master’s degree in business. I knew that no one would ever say no to me.←1 | 2→

In fact, I was convinced that companies would not only hire me, but they would pay me an incredible amount of money and give me everything I wanted. At the time, it felt like I had nothing but opportunities ahead of me and a bright future to look forward to. I remember thinking I could smell the interior of the imported sports car I assumed my future salary would provide.

After making it to my new home, I looked in the classified ads and found an opening only a few miles from my apartment. I was quickly hired to work as a commissioned salesman at a small car dealership that sold a national brand name of cars. I wasn’t hired because of any of my education, experience, or sales knowledge. The sales manager, a Marine Corps veteran who wore a large gold ring symbolizing his sales success, heard me speak in my interview. He asked “Is your voice always that loud? If so, you have a job here.”

I took the job selling cars. I assumed I’d be great at it. While I was employed there I learned all about how to sell, and how to get a customer to sign on the dotted line. I must have watched that famous movie scene a dozen times saying to “always be closing.” Some of what I learned might have been slightly outside my usual ethical threshold, but I knew I had to do what was necessary if I wanted to pay the rent.

I was never happy being a car salesman. I hated the looks people would give me when I told them what I did for a living. I hated the long days of waiting around for a customer to walk on the lot. The car manufacturer I worked for had been repositioning themselves as a higher quality car brand, which seemed good in theory, but rarely led to interested buyers. We had a lot of window shoppers who had very little interest in purchasing any of our inventory.

In early October 2006, an up-and-coming new retailer, Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear, offered me a job as a store manager. I put in my two-week notice at the car dealership. I had always adhered to the tradition of giving proper notice when resigning from a job. The sales manager thanked me for my time but said “Look kid, in this business, there is no such thing as a two-week notice. Go ahead and leave, and don’t talk to anyone on your way out.” I went home and packed my bags and got ready for a 2 week stay in Long Island, NY at the home office and training location for my new job.←2 | 3→

Steve and Barry’s, originally called Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear, was a new retailer that was popping up in malls and shopping centers all around the United States. Named for Steve Shore and Barry Prevor, the company specialized in collegiate apparel, casual wear, and funny graphic t-shirts. With an average price point of $9.98 or less, their store merchandise was trendy, fun and inexpensive. Through a method of working out deals in dying malls in a few dodgy locations, by 2006 the number of stores was growing rapidly. For less than $20, who wouldn’t want their favorite college hoodie and a funny graphic T-shirt?


VIII, 110
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (June)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. VIII, 110 pp.

Biographical notes

Christopher Tingley (Author)

Christopher M. Tingley holds a D.B.A. from Walden University, a M.B.A. from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from Gannon University. He is currently an assistant professor of marketing and strategy at Utica College in Utica, New York.


Title: Management Lessons of a Failed Company
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120 pages