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Chapter X. AFFILIATION WITH THE NATIONAL RETAIL DRY
The school of salesmanship has passed through four important stages of development: First, the establishment of a class for saleswomen in full cooperation with the stores; second, the organization of a teachers' training class; third, the introduction of salesmanship into the public schools of Boston; fourth, official connection with the National Retail Dry Goods Association. As the preceding chapters have dealt with the first three epochs marking the progress of the school, only the fourth and most recent remains to be explained.
The National Retail Dry Goods Association, with headquarters in New York City, was organized five years ago. It has a membership of 500 or more progressive retail merchants throughout the country, and it aims to promote the welfare and protect the interests of these members. The activities of the association are directed and controlled by an executive committee made up of the officers and 10 members elected from the association at large. It happened that three members of the committee had graduates of the teachers' training class as educational directors in their stores, and these merchants were so favorably impressed with the work that they wished the subject of education brought before the entire membership. Accordingly, an invitation was extended to Mrs. Prince to address the annual convention of the association at the Hotel Knickerbocker, New York, in February, 1915. Mrs. Prince accepted the invitation with some misgivings, feeling that men who had come together for the discussion of business topics would not be greatly interested in hearing about education. Her address on “Department-Store Education” made a far deeper impression, however, than she had anticipated. The merchants were intensely interested and expressed their conviction that the system of training which had been described was the very thing that was needed by the department stores. That they were sincere in their assertions was shown by the action taken even before the convention was ended. Mrs. Prince was asked to attend a session of the executive committee and was forthwith invited to become the director of a newly established department of education. Here was indeed a great opportunity, but the insistent demands of the teachers' training class and the growing interest in all phases of
the work were already absorbing so much of Mrs. Prince's time that she hesitated about assuming any more responsibility. But the gentlemen on the executive committee were generous and farsighted in their wish to share Mrs. Prince with the Boston school, and she accepted the appointment on the understanding that she should be free to give as much time as she thought necessary to the teachers' class.
The office was taken in September, 1915, and the new director of education endeavored to make her department of immediate use to the members. A letter was sent to each member asking whether or not he wished the services of the director during the coming year. A large number replied in the affirmative, and trips were accordingly planned to meet the requests of groups of members in different sections of the country.
Mrs. Prince's chief work for the association is the development of interest in department-store education in the cities in which the members live. This is done, to a great extent, through the medium of public addresses. An invitation to address an audience may come from a chamber of commerce, a retail merchants' board, or a board of education, or all three organizations may unite in an effort to bring together an interested and influential audience. Mrs. Prince has made 102 such addresses during this first year of her connection with the association. She has visited many eastern cities in the interests of the work and has made four trips, each of about three weeks' duration, to the Middle West. While on these trips she has also given some time to supervision of the work of the educational directors. The urgent interest in the movement is so great that the full time of more than one "field agent” would be necessary to satisfy it.
This promotional work is of inestimable value to the movement for department-store education. It spreads knowledge of the training more rapidly and more widely than could be effected by any other means; it creates many new openings for teachers-in fact, the demand for trained teachers is at present far in excess of the supply; and it brings to the school applications from desirable candidates who take the work back to their own States. In addition, the connection is valued because it brings association with some of the most progressive men in the country, and because, through acquaintance with many of the members and the special conditions of their stores, the director is able to place teachers more understandingly in the positions to which they are best adapted.
The 80 students who have been graduated from the teachers' course hold positions all the way from Boston to San Francisco; and while the majority are employed as educational directors in large stores, 23 are at work in public or private schools outside of stores in 12 different cities. (See Appendix, pp. 78, 79, for lists of stores and cities.)
It is most encouraging to review the school's short past and to look ahead to its future. In the 11 years wbich have elapsed since the 'experiment" was started a steady line of progress is noticeable. Each new development was the natural and inevitable outcome of all that had gone before, and no change was made, no new feature introduced, until it was determined that the action was in harmony with the essential principles of business and education. The confidence and support of the business men, with the faith and vision of the founder, form the enduring foundation of a movement now national in its scope. Looking toward the future, there is every reason to believe that department-store education has come to stay. It is a movement developed by one who believed that the fortunate few who have felt the quickening power of education should share its benefits with the less privileged and who, seeing a great need, knew how to meet it in a way which would not merely satisfy the technical demands of the industry, but would at the same time bring courage, happiness, and a new ideal into the lives of many workers. Practical in its application, scientific in its methods, and high in its influence, it is believed that this work will make an ever-increasing contribution to the progress and betterment of the world.
CONTENTS.--Test questions given to pupils of school of salesmanship at end of course (salesmanship, tex.
tiles, color and design, merchandise, hygiene, arithmetic, system)--Demonstration sales (types of customers, kinds of sales, some points of emphasis)-A typical week's program for the school of salesmanship-Questionnaire for floor managers-Application blank for saleswomen-Facsimile of statistical record card (face)-Facsimile of statistical record card (back)-Efficiency bulletin-Weekly schedule of teachers' training class-List of stores employing educational directors List of cities employing graduates in the public schools-Boston high schools offering salesmanship-Colleges and normal schools represented by graduates of teachers' training class-States in which graduates hold positions.
SALESMANSHIP. 1. What do you mean by the "talking points" of an article? Select the most expen
sive piece of merchandise in your department and explain all of its advantages. 2. A mother wishes to buy a dress for her child, who is with her. The child likes one
style; the mother prefers another. How will you conduct the sale so as to satisfy
both? 3. Discuss in detail the daily care which must be given to your stock to keep it in
perfect condition. Explain the importance of well-kept stock to the store, the
saleswoman, and the customer. 4. What examples of waste have you noticed in your department? How are you
trying to check such losses? 5. The following remarks of salespeople were overheard by a customer. Discuss in
full the customer's probable impression of the saleswoman in each case, giving
up for you."
(4) “Don't you like it; why not?” 6. Suppose you have three customers, one after another. (a) One is small, nervous,
daintily dressed. She says, “I don't know what I want." (6) The second walks slowly along the counter. “Only looking,” she says. She pauses to examine an article. She is stout, capable looking, and very determined. (c) The third is so tired she can hardly walk to the counter. She has a baby in her arms and is leading another child. Her clothes are shabby, and she looks discouraged. How would you approach each of these customers, and how would
you give to each genuine service? 7. Why is the personality of a saleswoman an important factor in selling? Make
your answer clear by giving an example from your experience as a customer. 8. Describe an interesting sale which you have made or lost recently. If it was lost,
tell why you think you failed. 9. How may a store make a favorable impression on a new customer? Think of
yourself as a stranger and suggest any ways in which your store or your depart
ment might be made more attractive to customers. 10. What is suggestive selling? Give a successful example from your own experience.