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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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12. A Facelift


In October of 2007, I was starting to prepare, both mentally and physically, for my second holiday season with the company. The new store I was working at was considerably larger than the store that I spent my first holiday season, and I couldn’t even imagine the revenue we would receive that year. Our store was not only one of the busiest, but also one of the physically largest stores in the company. Just walking from one end of the store to the other gave me a cramp in my legs.

The company’s position in the market was changing. The company had officially dropped the words University Sportswear, becoming simply Steve and Barry’s. As the store was repositioning itself as a casual clothing company, not simply collegiate apparel and funny t-shirts company, this was a change we all supported. It seemed like the right time. The new logo had more modern block lettering, was easier to read, and gave our store more of an upscale look. This was the beginning of what seemed to be the company trading up to a new set of customers.

The roll out also included a new website, which was used to counter the company’s lack of a strong advertising budget. Local radio ads ←83 | 84→were often placed for store openings or big events, but most of our promotion was done through word-of-mouth and exposure on TV shows. The problem with our new website was that, unlike the growing popularity...

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