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shoe sales brought no crowds within its portals. A sprinkling of strangers were there, and a sprinkling of old customers. The latter looked critically at the shoes offered, paused — and went away without buying. The sale was a failure; there is nothing more to be said.
Hurriedly Talman gathered to him the superintendent.
"What's the matter here?" he demanded. "Come down and let's look over the display."
Down at the counters the superintendent picked up a pair of shoes and held them up.
"These are not Bustel goods, Mr. Talman," he said.
"No, they're bargains."
"They're pretty bad." The superintendent was holding the top wide open, revealing plainly the cheap inside.
"Look at the price," retorted Talman, pointing at the signs.
"Yes, I see. That price, Mr. Talman, would be a bargain for this brand of shoes — for the real goods. But it isn't for this stuff."
"There's the name."
"Yes, there's the name, all right — but there isn't any crowd, as there ought to be with that name selling at this price."
Talman raged inwardly until all hope that the sale would prove a success was gone. Then, still raging, he sent for Leitner.
"Leitner, do you know what this last bunch of shoes was like?"
"Of course," said Leitner.
"They were rotten." Talman thumped his desk expressively.
Leitner shrugged his shoulders and reached into an inside pocket.
"Look at this, please, Mr. Talman," said he, handing the latter a crumpled telegram. '' I got this at Brockton just before I bought this last lot." The telegram read:
"Get another shoe bargain. Good as first one. Must have it. Must be sensational in price. You understand. Talman."
"And at that the lot was just as good as the first one," continued Leitner. "In fact, it was a shade better."
"Well, that's all, Leitner."
Alone with himself, Talman sat down and admitted the lesson. It came hard, but he was a good business man, after all. He was firmly rooted in his ideas and opinions, but he possessed the great, the profitable saving grace: he could be taught.
He had been taught now, and he admitted it freely — to himself. The bargain sales that he had instituted had failed most naturally. The goods were poor goods in quality — miserably poor. They had to be at the price they were sold. At first they had gone well. The prestige of Bustel's had carried the early days. Then, due to the inferior quality of the goods, Bustel's had ceased to have any prestige in this regard.
And during the limited time the experiment had run, the new style of advertisements having attracted only a certain part of the bargain hunters of the city, the later bargains had fallen as flat as they deserved. Those who had bought had bought to their sorrow — and only once. After the fact that the bargains were under the Bustel roof had ceased to sell them, they had ceased to sell. A bargain was a bargain only when it was — a bargain.
It was a poignant lesson. Talman studied his reports for an hour before making a move. Then he called his Stenographer.
"Take a note to the heads of all departments:
"' In the future only goods of a standard quality must be bought and sold in all stores. You are requested to notify the writer of any goods of inferior quality that may come in. Talman.'
"Now," said Talman, when the note had been written, "we can start in on even ground with the other fellows. We've learned what it takes to make a bargain."
IMAGINATION IN BUSINESS1
By LORIN F. DELANO
Napoleon caused the names of his dead soldiers to be inscribed on the face of Pompey's Pillar, some one criticised the act as "a mere bit of imagination." "That is true," replied Napoleon, "but imagination rules the world."
Let us consider the application of imagination to one thing; namely, to business. It would be easy to trace the world's inventions to its imaginative men, and tell interesting stories of the gain to the individual from a single thought. We had all watched children go scuffling along to school, stubbing their toes at every step, and it meant nothing to us. But one day an imaginative man watched them, and saw the effect of putting a thin strip of copper across the toe of the boy's boot. The world gave him a million dollars. It could afford to, out of the many millions it saved. Or, leaving inventions aside, we might trace the imagination which made the waterfall of Niagara feed the electric lamps in the city of Buffalo, twenty miles away.
But, confining our thoughts within an even smaller circle, let us follow the workings of the imagination in the most material form of business — that of ordinary merchandising. I believe that imagination is as valuable — I do not say as essential, but as valuable — in the management of trade as in any of the arts. It is as valuable, it is as applicable, and with the single exception of the art of literature, it is as essential.
1 "From Imagination in Business," by Lorin F. Deland. By permission of the author and the publishers. Copyright, 1909, by Harper and Brothers.
Let me tell the story of two bootblacks. We can scarcely go lower in the business scale. These two boys, of about the same age, I found standing, one Saturday afternoon, on opposite sides of a crowded thoroughfare in Springfield. As far as could be judged, there was no preference between the different sides of the street, for an equally large crowd seemed to be moving on both sides. The bootblacks had no regular stand, but each had his box slung over his shoulder, and, standing on the curbstone, solicited the passers-by to stop and have a shine. Each boy had one "call," or method of solicitation, which he repeated at regular intervals. The two solicitations were entirely different, but each was composed of four words. They never varied them. Yet one of these boys, by the peculiar wording of his solicitation, secured twice as much business as the other, as far as one could judge, and I watched them for a long time.
The cry of the first boy was, "Shine your boots here." It announced the simple fact that he was prepared to shine their boots. The cry of the second boy was, "Get your Sunday shine!" It was then Saturday afternoon, and the hour was four o'clock. This second boy employed imagination. He related one attraction to another; he joined facts together; his four simple words told all that the first boy said, and a great deal more. It conveyed the information, not simply that he was there to shine shoes, but that to-morrow was Sunday; that from present appearances it was likely to be a pleasant day; that he, as a bootblack, realized they would need an extra good shine; and, somehow, the sentence had in it a gentle reminder that the person on whose ears it fell had there