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results, or the percentage of business gained from the
outlay. He keeps a record, also, of the amount of news-
paper space used by each department. There should be
at least one artist to make drawings of merchandise
for cuts and designs for special advertising. There
should be one especially expert stenographer to take
dictated copy from the manager or copy writers and
to put it into such shape that the compositor can set
it up readily and accurately.

The Boy in the Advertising Department. The age
limits for entering this department are usually fourteen
and eighteen years. A boy would enter as errand boy
or as helper to an advertising man, at $3 a week, but
if nearer the higher limit of age and of evident ability
he would receive f 3.50 or $4. In this department he
is generally chosen for his intelligence. His duties
consist of running errands between the office and the
different departments, carrying copy, assisting the news-
paper man, and making himself generally useful. He


may advance to $6 in two or three years' time. Then,
if of sufficient literary ability or training and of good
judgment in handling advertising matter, he might be
promoted to preparing advertisements, as received from
buyers or assistant buyers of departments, for news-
paper insertion. The pay for this work varies from $12
to $30 a week, averaging from $18 to $20. The next
step would be assistant advertising man ; the final,
advertising manager. Assistant managers receive from
$20 to $35, and managers are paid a salary of from $50
a week to as high as $10,000 a year.

Work producing Advertising Men. At the present
time in the great stores more successful advertising men
have come from newspaper work than from any other
field. Many young men in the stores are now receiving
their training under such advertising managers. Some
buyers, because of their knowledge of merchandise and
their ability to set forth its selling qualities, have
found their place in the advertising department of a
store. Young men from the selling department, also,
enter the store-publicity work.

Advertising holds an even place with the other divi-
sions of the department store. It offers fewer positions
for employment, but calls for high ability and presents
large opportunities to young men with fitness for its



Hours of Employment. The hours of service in the
good department store are usually from 8.30 to 5.30,
or 6 o'clock, with an hour off for lunch. Through the
summer season stores usually close at five o'clock, and
on Saturday afternoons at one o'clock. Some stores
keep open evenings in the holiday season, and extra
time is sometimes required of employees who have to
do with the care of stock.

Seasonal Increase in Trade. In some departments and
in stores which are in part specialty houses, trade is in
a degree seasonal. While a large and steady volume
fills the entire year, special sales and seasons in the
year bring such an increase of trade as to call for the
addition of temporary employees. The largest increase
comes at the time of the Christmas holidays. On the
whole this seasonal increase does not greatly affect the
service and prospect of the regular employees.

The diagram on page 149 shows the seasonal and
special fluctuations in the volume of trade.

Seasonal Increase and Decrease in Number of Employ-
ees. The largest volume of trade occurs in the spring
and fall, or in the months of April, October, November,
and December. The store which carries a full line of
holiday goods, including a toy department, increases its




number of employees by from twenty to thirty per cent
at the Christmas holidays. The same store falls about
ten per cent below the normal in the periods of least
trade, or in vacation time. The specialty store increases
from ten to fifteen per cent at its busiest period and
decreases about ten per cent in vacation time. An or-
dinary department store, employing, for instance, four
thousand people, usually enlarges this number by eight

Special sales (not limited to months)

Periods of overtime.... Th* hniir^v*



Vacation Special
ster months sales ^x















The curved line represents approximately the usual temporary increase

and decrease in the volume of business ; the broken line, the normal or

average trade for the year

hundred or more in the holiday season, and falls below
by three or four hundred in the dull season. The best
of those taken at the holiday season may be retained
permanently, while the least efficient of those in earlier
service in the store may be discharged. On the other
hand, there is a growing number of people, mostly
young and having, comparatively small personal ex-
penses through living at home, who seek holiday
employment only. Each year these people form a


considerable part of the increased number of employees
in retail stores of all kinds in the holiday season.

Vacation. Employees who have served a store for
one year or more generally have an annual vacation of
two weeks with pay.

Physical Conditions. In older buildings there are
sometimes insufficient light, ventilation, and space for
comfortable service, but the best sanitary engineering is
now secured in the modern department-store building.

Influences making for Fatigue. In the busy retail
house there is a tension not found in the wholesale
house or in the various lines of manufacture. The sell-
ing force works in an atmosphere charged with excite-
ment. The bustling, hurrying, changing crowds, the
meeting of so many people, the constant effort to do
one's work quickly and acceptably, especially with the
added need of pleasing the customer, produce more than
physical weariness; they are nerve-wearing influences.
Yet these same forces operate to make the mind alert
and the wit keen, and to produce the efficient clerk and
executive. Moreover, these strain-producing conditions
are, in the better stores, offset in a measure by the vari-
ous features of welfare work, by the effort of the store
management to make the business atmosphere congenial
and helpful, and by the spirit of comradeship that per-
vades the body of employees in a department and
throughout an entire store.

The objections of greatest weight against service in
a department store, such as low pay, poor ventilation,
standing, and overwork, apply rather to the lower-grade
stores and especially to female service.


Competition in Service. A disadvantage to the young
man, perhaps the worst he has to encounter in the de-
partment-store field, is that of competition from female
service. Girls and women are found in preponderating
numbers in the great retail houses, and in some cases
occupying higher positions, such as buyer or assistant
buyer. Certain departments call for feminine taste and
instinct, and the superior selling abilities of women in
many lines of merchandise are generally recognized. In
certain specialty stores, for instance, the sales force con-
sists entirely of girls and women; and the positions in
certain minor divisions of the large store not treated at
length in this study, such as Information Bureau, Re-
fund Desk, and Post-Office Station, are filled regularly
by female employees.

The relative divisions of employees in department
stores at the present time are very nearly thirty per
cent male and seventy per cent female. In the general
store, male help is usually found in the heavy sections,
such as furniture and carpets, often in the sections
carrying the more expensive lines, such as silks, and
almost exclusively in the division of men's clothing.

Where the Way Divides. There is a period between
the service of the boy and that of the man when ad-
vancement seems to cease. This occurs usually when the
limit of the boy's earnings has been reached and when
only a few out of many employees may be promoted to
the higher positions. It comes in merchandising, for in-
stance, between the grade of head of stock and that
of assistant buyer. When one has passed this line
of demarcation his success in merchandising depends


largely on his ability. Again, in selling, in the smaller
stores, there are few intermediate places between the
ordinary clerk and the heads of departments. This
period might be termed a point of turning, or a part-
ing of the ways. The dull boy will drop out ; the
bright, capable boy is likely to go on.

The boy or young man of average ability may earn
up to $10 or $12 in various places; above this there are
few openings below $18 or $20. The higher business
and executive positions call for marked ability and ca-
pacity, and the great majority of boys fail to reach them.
A conservative estimate indicates that of the boys who
enter department stores less than ten per cent remain
permanently, and of this number probably from ten to
twenty per cent only reach the higher places. The greater
number leave the service at this point, where earnings
cease to advance. Ambitious young men are attracted
only by the high or executive positions in merchandis-
ing, superintending, selling, advertising, or recording.

To remedy this condition and to secure a fairly per-
manent body of trained employees, the most progressive
department stores are organizing educational features,
and are analyzing avenues of promotion with a spirit
and energy which must enhance the value of depart-
ment-store work as a vocation. Such stores as fail to
appreciate the need of this service to their employees
will be unable to attract the qualified youth.

Service in a department store provides the best of
practical training for one who may wish later to enter
into business for himself or to seek employment in a
specialty store or in a smaller establishment.




The Nature of this Work. In establishments whose
employees number hundreds or thousands, there arises
a need for various kinds of work for their general wel-
fare. Much has been done along these lines in recent
years in the best department stores. To-day the effort
to make the business atmosphere congenial is one of
the decided advantages to a young person who is about
to enter the field. Managers in the business are recog-
nizing more and more the need of consideration for the
social welfare of the person employed and that among
the conditions conducive to the best results are not
only lighting, ventilation, and sanitation, but general
good-fellowship among employees, permanent advance-
ment, and social and vocational opportunities. There
are now in most of the larger stores persons whose
sole function is to study the needs of all employees
and to provide the means for improving their general
efficiency and welfare. Each store in which these agen-
cies are developed provides rooms or meeting places
for this new department of social-service work.

The boy, therefore, who enters the well-regulated
department store may feel that provision is made for
his educational advancement along the lines of the
business and for his social and material well-being.



Three Lines of Opportunity. The work of this division
falls into three general lines of opportunity or training,
educational, administrative, and social, all of which tend
to increase the welfare and efficiency of the employee.

These may be grouped as follows :


The School of Salesmanship. By its school, of sales-
manship the department store supplements the work of
the public schools and gives practical training to the
employee whose work lies in selling.

1. Class Work. This work is carried on by a regular
instructor, who may be the educational director or an
assistant. Employees of all ages and of all terms of
service are taught the principles of salesmanship and
sales-slip practice. Such a system of training in selling
is the oldest and one of the most important forms of
efficiency work in the modern store.

A recent account of such a school in one large store
contains the following:

The value of the school is perhaps best illustrated by the
attitude of the sales people themselves. At first there was an
erroneous impression on the part of some that the classes were
made up of sales people whose work was indifferent or unsatis-
factory and that attendance was a reflection on their selling
ability. This impression has now entirely disappeared. Those
who at first thought it would be a stigma to attend are loudest
in their praise of the school and of the value of the training
which it gives, many have expressed regret that the classes were
not longer, and there have been numerous requests for permis-
sion to take the very same course a second time. It has been
especially gratifying that sales people of many years' experience


have frankly and voluntarily acknowledged the great assistance
which they have received from the work.

Buyers and floor superintendents are in the best position to
see the results of the training received in the classes. The suc-
cess of their departments depends to a large extent on the effi-
ciency of their sales force. They can and do observe the work
which is being done by each sales person, note the improvement
on the part of each one who has attended the classes, and com-
pare the work with that of other sales people who have not yet
had the opportunity of receiving instruction. The verdict of the
buyers and floor superintendents is unanimous. They have spoken
in the most flattering terms of the good results achieved and
of the great improvement which even a short course makes in
the work of their sales people. The buyers and floor superin-
tendents select those who are to attend the classes, and they are
all eager to have as many of their sales people as possible receive
the benefit which the instruction gives.

Some of the topics treated in lectures by floor superintend-
ents have been the following: The Attitude of Sales people
toward the Floor Superintendent ; Courtesy ; Cooperation ; Hab-
its; The Care of Stock; The Advantage of the School; Ambi-
tion; Honesty; Discipline; Appearance; Patience; Opportunity;
The Willing Worker.


1. Efficiency Bulletins. Small bulletins are usually
issued at regular periods, for the purpose of giving em-
ployees expert information and suggestion upon points
of salesmanship and efficiency service. These bulletins
are placed in the hands of the floor managers, who
read them to their employees, with added comment
as occasion may require, and post them in proper
places. Such a bulletin generally deals with one im-
portant topic, from the point of view of the store


2. Merchandise Conferences. The buyer regularly
gives informal talks to the sales force in his depart-
ment as to the nature of merchandise to be sold.

3. Efficiency Records. These are rating sheets for
the younger employees, such as stock and floor boys
and girls, who are doing work of an apprenticeship
nature. These records are made out monthly by their
immediate executive, the floor manager.

Such records are placed on file in the educational office.

4. School Enrollment. This means practically voca-
tional guidance, or advice, extending to all the people
in the organization. The educational director, or adviser,
holds interviews with employees, to discuss their former
training, present ambitions, and further courses of study
in schools or classes outside oif the store. A record is
kept of all such school attend ince. Some department-
store employees are enrolled in university-extension

Provision is made, also, for admission to outside
lectures which are likely to be of a stimulating and
helpful character.


Under this heading may be grouped all those advan-
tages which have nothing to do directly with training
one for better service in his department. Every regular
employee of the store is entitled to be a member of the
associations or clubs organized in this division. Gener-
ally no dues are imposed and participation in club work
is optional. The chief organizations may be enumerated
as follows :


1. A Mutual-Aid Association, established to give its
members a voice in their government, to increase their
efficiency, and to add to their social opportunities.

2. An Insurance or Mutual-Benefit Association, with
a very small initiation fee and weekly dues, which pro-
vides a definite benefit in case of sickness or death.

3. A Savings-Deposit System for employees, guaran-
teed by the firm against all losses. Employees may leave
their pay on deposit, with interest as in a savings bank.

4. A Medical Department, free to employees, with
a medical adviser who comes to the store at certain
stated periods for consultation with store people who
may be in need of such services. In some cases a
woman physician is added to the staff and a nurse is
provided. General lectures upon health are given
before meetings of employees. In connection with
this department health and athletic committees are
frequently formed.

5. The Lecture Committee. Health talks have led to
lecture courses, with well-known speakers on subjects
of interest, given regularly at the end of the store day.

6. The Library Committee. This committee supplies
the popular trade and literary magazines, books, and
daily papers.

7. The Suggestion Committee, organized "to encour-
age thought and to interest employees in the policy and
activities of the store." This committee offers prizes
for suggestions that may in any way result in help or
profit to the business.

8. The Entertainment Committee, which arranges
summer outings, or various social meetings for employees.


9. The Club-House Committee, which provides a
dining room or advantages for lunches or low-cost
food for employees.

10. The Music Committee, whose duty it is to ar-
range for the musical training or practice of employees.

11. A Store Paper, containing matters of social or
special interest to employees.

Workers in this Division. The names of positions in
welfare work are as yet unsettled. The terms "educa-
tional director" and "welfare manager" have been in use
in some stores. The educational director has charge of
agencies for the training of employees in efficiency ; the
welfare manager, of social work or of all activities for
the promotion of efficiency and well-being. The manager
and director are regularly assisted by subcommittees
of store people, or by special helpers such as may be
necessary to conduct any activity in welfare work.

A Sample Daily Club Report. Herewith is given a
sample " Consolidated Daily Report of Store Organiza-
tions" used by one of the great stores of the country.
The list of this report includes such organizations as are
additional to the customary work of a store and may be
called clubs. The training given in these clubs is edu-
cational and disciplinary, and increases the interest and
efficiency of the employee for the business with which
he is connected. It creates an esprit de corps in an estab-
lishment and repays many fold any outlay on the part
of a firm. The advancement of the young person de-
pends largely upon the individual. He should show a
readiness and willingness to profit by the opportunities
for training provided by the store.









Senior Branch
Junior Branch

Cornet Section . . .

Bass Section

Traps and Drums

Clarinet Section . .

Saxophone Section
Alto Section

Boys' Bugle .

Boys' Drum

Advanced Violin

Beginners' Violin


Glee Club .

Military Band
Senior Bugle and Drum Corps .
Junior Bugle and Drum Corps .
Military and Physical Drills
Provisional Company, A ...
Provisional Company, B . . .
Hospital Corps . . .

Junior Boys

Veteran Corps' Meeting . . .
Dramatic Club Rehearsal . . .
Debating Club Meeting . . .
Board of Officers' Meeting . .
Alumni Association
Choral Society


Business Club ....

Athletic Association
Beneficial Association ....
Employees' S. and L. Assoc. .
Carriers' Inspection









Night-Watch Drill
House Porters' Drill
Fire-Tower Drill

Valve Drill

Fire Brigade Drill
Elevator Operators' Drill . . .





I bring to you a message from the World of Business. You
demand my credentials ; you want to know by what right and
authority I dare to encroach upon the domains of your minds and
try to influence your thought. In other words, you. want to know
whether I am a competent authority on my subject or not.

My answer is that I have lived in the business world, both
here and in Europe for many years, that I have employed many
thousands of boys and girls, men and women, and that my duties
have given me large opportunities for observation. Are my cre-
dentials satisfactory? It is your right and duty to examine a
man's credentials before you allow his influence to enter into
your life, whether he be your physician, your lawyer, or business
man. I think this is of vast importance and I hope I have
made my point clear.

Now I want you to imagine that you have finished your
school education and that you are at my office door seeking

I will tell you before you enter that I shall be influenced to a
large extent by your personal appearance. Much depends upon
my first impression of you. Many a young man has received
short audience in my office because his linen was soiled and his
hands yellow with nicotine, and more than likely I have turned
away some men and women of ability, just on account of the
bad impression they made upon me by their untidy personal
appearance. I tell you this, that you may see the great im-
portance of always looking your best, and especially when
seeking a position.



Now we will assume that I am satisfied with your personal
appearance ; iny first impression of you has been in your favor,
but that is not enough. The only safe way to judge a man's
future is to know his past. You must fill out one of these appli-
cation blanks that I show you, in which, as you see, I ask you
many pertinent questions ; you must account to my satisfaction
for a certain number of years of your life. You must give me
the names of everybody by whom you have been employed, also
the name of your last school teacher. I shall write to all these
people, asking them to. substantiate your statements and to give
me their opinion of your honesty and ability, assuring them that
their replies will be treated as absolutely confidential. Your em-
ployment now depends upon the answers I receive from these
people. If there is the least doubt about your honesty, I shall
not hire you. , But if all of your references as to honesty are
good, added to the good impression your appearance has made
upon me, even though your last employer does not speak highly
of your ability, I may engage you, and trust to the new environ-
ment to make an efficient man of you, but you must bring to my
office a clean bill of character, or your case is hopeless.

Now we will assume that you. have satisfied me on every
point. I have been impressed by your courteous manner and
your personal appearance. Your former employers and your
school teacher, in answer to my inquiries, have recommended
you highly as to character and ability, and I have decided to
take you into the employ of the great house I represent. Before
taking you and turning you over to the head of the department
in which I intend to start you, I will ask you to take a seat in
my office, while I give you some sound advice.

Always, and under all conditions, be courteous. I know of

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Online LibraryFrederick James AllenBusiness employments → online text (page 10 of 14)