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Management Lessons of a Failed Company

Christopher M. Tingley

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?"

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2. Celebrity Endorsements


After learning how to use the SOC (only corporate employees called it the “sock,” store managers called it the “S-O-C”), our intranet system for store communications, things felt like they were finally coming together. My expensive corporate training might not have taught me everything I needed to know, but I was quickly learning a lot in the store. The hourly employees seemed to like me, and things started feeling relatively comfortable. Our store was one of the older and smaller stores in the company, but we had our store running like a well-oiled machine. Tom, as well as the other two store managers, had been a strong team and I was glad to be part of it. I didn’t exactly feel like I fit in right away, but they were kind and welcoming to the new guy.

Basketball star Stephon Marbury had helped to start a transformation that would take a small t-shirt store and put it at the center of the competitive retail world. Previously, we had sold mostly collegiate apparel for college-age males, and in the company’s history never sold any of their merchandise for more than $9.98. The company had become successful by targeting college students and mostly younger ←15 | 16→males through a low-price strategy. The company had never utilized any celebrity endorsements.

Steve and Barry’s had a price point under discount stores low price retailers, but it took a pair of sneakers and a basketball player from Coney Island to get...

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