Page images

items is the rent charged. Manifestly, departments like furniture, pianos, and household utensils, which require a vast amount of space, must pay a high rent in consequence. To these fixed charges is added the net profit, which in most stores varies greatly in different departments. It is not based upon the highest price that the public can be persuaded to pay, as in the old way, but on the number of times that the stock — that is to say, the working capital — can be turned over in the course of a year. In some departments the profit placed on particular articles may be only two or three per cent. In others it may run as high as forty per cent. Yet at the end of the year the two departments will show about the same percentage of net profit. An article that sells for seventy cents in one department may be shifted to another and sold for fifty cents, without making the slightest difference in the net profit of the store at the end of a year.

Most people think that the custom of fixing prices in odd cents is to make goods appear cheaper, but that is not the reason for it. When one deals in percentages there are bound to be odd figures. Take the books as an illustration again. The store pays seventy-five cents for each volume. It adds twenty-five cents for the fixed general expenses and eight cents for the profit. If the department were not compelled to carry thousands of dollars' worth of standard works, which sell slowly, the percentage of profit charged would be lower; if it were not for the enormous holiday trade, the percentage of profit charged would be higher. Standardization again.

This charge that I have called net profit is not all net by a good deal. It must cover the loss of breakage and general destruction, the failure of goods to sell, and theft. The cheaper stores suffer more seriously from thieving than the higher-priced ones because their employees are less trustworthy. For years the proprietors estimated that their theft losses were due half to their dishonest employees and half to outsiders, but not one of them would venture to estimate the total.

There is a curious standard of ethics among some of the employees. They do not regard taking articles for their own use as theft, whereas to take them for some one else, even a member of the family, is plain robbery. Almost never are these guilty ones prosecuted even if they are detected and the proof is conclusive. They are discharged, of course, and notices are posted in the dressingrooms explaining the reason. But when an employee steals goods to sell and is caught, arrest follows.

Under the buyer is the assistant buyer, whose salary is sometimes very large, depending on that paid his chief, and next to him is the stock clerk, who gets anywhere from $25 to $60 a week. Then come the salespeople. Among the men the best paid are in the furniture and piano departments, where they usually receive a drawing account, that is, a minimum fixed weekly salary, and a commission, computed at regular intervals; and in the clothing department, where the best salesmen get $25 a week. For women the millinery department is the best, the salaries ranging from $15 to $35 a week, but there are two long seasons of idleness. Saleswomen in the cloak and suit department get from $15 to $30 a week.

The wages paid the senior salespeople in the general departments of the best stores are from $9 to $18 a week. The juniors range from $6 to $8. Below these are the cashiers, wrappers, checkers, cash girls, and errand boys.

The demand for really good salespeople is greater than the supply and the chances of promotion are excellent.

The Wanamaker stores have clubs in which the benefit idea is worked out in the form of education and social activities. These clubs go in for languages, literature, and other things that make for culture, and the firm contributes liberally to them. Most of the fines that are imposed in department stores are turned over to these organizations of employees.

It is the claim of department stores that they have more eleemosynary features than any other big business. This is not exactly true, but it is true that they give the public greater service for less cost than any other institution. Witness the rest- and writing-rooms, the restaurants that are usually conducted at a loss, the arrangements that are made in most stores to care for babies. The Wanamaker store is strong on these features. In the new building in New York there is one of the finest auditoriums in the country. It seats fifteen hundred people and two concerts are given each week-day during most of the year. It has its own singers and instrumentalists and in addition employs some of the great masters. Richard Strauss was paid $3,000 for three concerts. It costs about $50,000 a year to give these concerts and admission is free. Of course it pays — remember, the Wanamaker stores lead in the volume of business in New York — but the public profits, nevertheless.




UT in Colorado there is a man known as "The Conqueror of the Rockies." He is the man who, by his iron will, made the iron horse climb over the backbone of the continent, a feat which has astonished the greatest engineers in all parts of the world.

Master engineering minds declared the building of a railroad across the perpetual snow-covered Continental Divide most impractical, even if it were possible, but the old Empire Builder's dream was this "impossible" railroad, and he has accomplished the impossible.

The new railroad, which is proving to be the greatest factor in the development of Colorado, has required seven years to build one hundred and twenty-four miles of track, and it has cost $12,600,000, which makes it the most expensively constructed railway in the country. This marvelous engineering feat is called the "Moffat Road" because it was built by David H. Moffat, who came to Colorado a poor book peddler, but who now counts his money by the millions.

The life dream of Mr. Moffat has been to connect Denver with Salt Lake City by a direct railroad. The map of the State of Colorado shows a vast empire 200 miles north and south by 300 miles east and west. The Union Pacific Railroad runs 627 miles in its passage over the sage brush plains between Denver and Salt Lake City. The Denver & Rio Grande Railway runs 741 miles, swinging with many a loop and curve down toward the southern part of Colorado in search for an easy crossing of the Great Divide.

1 By courtesy of the Business Men's Publishing Company, Detroit. Copyright, 1910.

It does not seem possible for a railroad to go in a direct line westward from Colorado's capital. The great range of mountains to the westward rises rampart-like, the summit of its lofty peaks being clothed, the year around, in masses of perpetual snow.

But "Napoleon" Moffat believed the " Continent's Backbone" could be crossed, and he found a way to storm nature's citadels, declared to be impregnable. His was not the first brain to conceive the idea of tapping the almost limitless resources of the mighty empire that lay beyond the towering walls, but it remained for this man of iron will to carry out the gigantic enterprise.

The company that is now the Burlington Railroad once tried to run a line across the Great Divide, but after several millions of dollars were sunk in tunnels, bridges and grades, the project was abandoned. The men who were furnishing the money saw how desperate was the undertaking to subdue the stupendous forces of nature and cross the barren, rocky peaks.

The "Moffat" Road, which is now complete from Denver to Steamboat Springs, will make the journey to, Salt Lake City 200 miles shorter than by any other route.

The story of "The Conqueror of the Rockies" has its beginning with a poor messenger boy in a New York City bank. Davie Moffat, the boy, had very few advantages of an early education, and practically all his training came from hard experience. At the age of sixteen he was appointed assistant teller. He then emigrated to Des Moines, Iowa, where he found employment in a bank as teller. Later he went to Omaha, Neb., where at the age of eighteen, he was

« PreviousContinue »