Tag Archives: social media

You can take the girl out of retail…

-Courtesy Lars Ploughman

-Courtesy Lars Ploughman

Black Friday.

I have a love-hate relationship with Black Friday. I wouldn’t be caught dead shopping on that day, but I worked in retail for 20 years and the thrill of seeing the sales figures rise so rapidly is hard to beat. I’ve been out of retail for 5 years and this weekend was reminded of just how fun it is to see the results of my Black Friday prep work pay off.

Cue the flashback music

It was supposed to be a 3 month summer gig after my freshman year in college.

But my hairdresser knew differently. Throughout the next three years when we’d talk about my job at a local department store:  “You’re going to be a retail queen. It’s in your blood!” I shrugged it off because that wasn’t what I was going to school for. Little did I know…

One of the best parts of my job was seeing a direct impact on sales through my actions. Because the company was still relatively small, I could call the buyers. If something was blowing out the door, I could call and say, “Get me more!” Or, if it wasn’t selling, “Transfer this out or let me mark it down!” I was also afforded great freedom and creativity when it came to merchandising my floor. I could move stuff around, make “shops,” be creative. Then I could watch the sales numbers. If they went up, I celebrated! If they went down or didn’t move, I made adjustments.

My career grew. The company grew. And I got pregnant. As I went about my job, and the pregnancy continued, I wondered, “How in the world am I going to be the kind of mom I want to be and work nights, weekends and 6 days at Christmas?” That thought began to take the fun out of the job.

Then, I was offered a demotion. Not because I wasn’t doing well, but because the regional director’s administrative assistant was leaving. I had to take a slight pay cut, but the job was Monday-Friday days.

No nights. No weekends. No stress.

I jumped on it!

I worked in that position for 9 years and for the majority of the time it was great! I worked in an office alone 3-4 days a week while the boss traveled. I made connections friends at the corporate offices, and in many of our stores throughout the company.

The company had grown so much that a lot of what I had considered fun…the merchandising, working with buyers to hone the inventory…was not part of the job anymore. It was cookie-cutter. I was glad I wasn’t in the trenches anymore.

But there was one day out of every year I missed it. Black Friday! As I said, I’ll never shop on Black Friday but to prep for it and be part of the fast-paced excitement was a rush! A favorite saying was, “Pile it high and let it fly!”  Watching the sales numbers shooting up (on a good year) was amazing!

Retirement Party. Betcha don't know many women who retire AND have a baby all in the same week!

Retirement Party. Betcha don't know many women who retire AND have a baby all in the same week!

Less than two months after my 20th anniversary, I “retired.” Not because I was ready for my AARP card or Medicare, but because I was about to have my 4th child. My boss and his wife hosted a lovely retirement party for me and colleagues friends came from miles away to wish me well. It meant the world to me!

That was five years ago. I still won’t shop on Black Friday. But, I do miss the people and the excitement that goes along with it.

This year, I was reminded just how much I miss watching those sales numbers rise. I’m a social media specialist working with Weaving Influence. One of the clients we’re working with is Dean Vollmar. His company, 1stFrame.com, is an online retailer. He creates beautiful, custom laser-engraved frames. Part of the work we’re doing for him revolves around this weekend: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

We used a photo from my summer vacation to design a frame or use in our Michigan Small Business Saturday Frame.

We used a photo from my summer vacation to design a frame for use in our Michigan Small Business Saturday Frame.

He kept us updated throughout the day yesterday as sales began to come in. Before 10:30 a.m., he had already sold as many frames as the year before. As of midnight, he had a 500% increase! Once again, I felt the rush of seeing incredible sales figures and knowing that my knowledge, my expertise, my actions created a direct impact on sales.

But this time, it was from the comfort of my own sofa!

So, you might be able to take the girl out of retail, but I don’t think you’ll ever take the retail out of this girl.

Let’s talk! Do you shop on Black Friday? Work on Black Friday? Have you retired or left a job and find that while you wouldn’t go back, there are aspects you miss?

Reunited

Once upon a time, 1973 to be exact, there were two little girls. They both lived in Temperance, Michigan and they were both embarking on a big adventure…Kindergarten! They both were in Mrs. Hamilton’s class at Jackman Road Elementary School.

That’s about where their similarities ended. One was full of confidence, ready to take on the world, a leader,  some would say, bossy, others would say. The other was quiet, nervous, hide-under-the-table shy. That leader (ahem, bossy one) was me. The other girl was Donna.

Somehow, probably because of my bossiness and the fact that I wouldn’t let her stay under the tableDonna and Me, Donna and I became best friends although we had nothing in common. She was your stereotypical tomboy and I was all girl. Evidence of those traits in both of us is obvious in this picture from the fourth grade. We were flowers in the school’s production of The Nutcracker. Yup, that’s me,  giddy with excitement and there’s Donna mortified over the whole tutu and tights ordeal!

She liked cars, I liked boys. She liked Kenny Rogers, I liked, well…boys.

But our friendship flourished. I remember we planned on growing up and owning a horse farm together. Then puberty set in. She still liked cars (as far as I could tell) and I really, really liked boys! And so, we drifted apart. We never had a fight or said, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore.” We just drifted apart.

I went off to college, she had a job working on cars. Something she loved. That’s the last I heard from or about Donna for awhile. Sometime in the early ’90s I heard she got married and had children (I think our moms may have gotten together, don’t remember how I knew). We saw each other once, though I can’t remember when.

Fast-forward to 2009. I joined Facebook on May 26, 2009. The only reason I joined was so I could enter a contest to win a new kitchen. But I soon found out how much fun it is. Granted, it can be a huge time-waster, but the benefits far outweigh the unfolded laundry that has resulted due to my membership.

Less than a month later, I had a friend request from Donna. I recognized her name right away and confirmed her as a friend. When I saw her profile picture, I thought it was a case of mistaken identity. She looks so different from that brown haired girl who was so disgusted about wearing a tutu! As I began to read through her news feed, I began to realize we have so much more in common than we ever did before. We both got married, though, sadly she is a widow, we both have children, we’re both stay-at-home moms, we both enjoy volunteer work. She hasn’t just come out of her shell, she shattered it.

So, today, we met for lunch. We invited our moms, too, because they had been such good friends when we were kids. We enjoyed a leisurely two-hour lunch (cut short because of other demands on our time) and I hope we can do it again!

Maybe, those kindergarten girls saw something in each other–a connection–that puberty blurred but adulthood brings back into focus. And without the wonder that is Facebook, we would never have known!

(Incidentally, I’ve also reconnected with my roommate from Adrian College, Becky, and another good friend from college, Karen, since joining. Turns out Karen’s brother lives on the street behind me! Once we reconnected, she stopped over for a surprise visit while in town seeing him.)

It takes a village, or rather, a network

I know a little bit about social media. My husband is a social media consultant who works from home. You pick some stuff up by osmosis that way, I suppose. Due to his influence, in the last year, I’ve joined Twitter and Facebook and started this blog–all social media outlets. I’ve seen him doing blogger outreach and monitoring content. I’ve stayed home with the kids while he’s gone to Tweetups, breakfasts and lunches all in the name of social media.

But in early June, I got involved in social media in another way. I entered the Merillat Good Life Video Contest with the grand prize being a $30,000 kitchen makeover. Basically, the contest worked like this:

  1. submit your video via Facebook,
  2. hope to be chosen by the sponsors as a finalist and then
  3. do everything you can to get the most votes for your video.

Had I been left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have even made it past step 1. I could write the script and cast some really cute kids and a handsome man in the vid, but I couldn’t star in the video, run the camera or edit it into something “finalist-worthy” by myself.

And so began the network. Michael could run the camera and a good friend of ours, Shawn Sieg, offered to edit the video for us.  We had a lot of fun and ended up producing something we were proud of.

Step 1. Check.

Step 2. What could we do? It was up to the sponsors, so we waited. And I was a finalist!

Step 2. Check.

Step 3. Now the votes. Hmm. How to get the votes? Only one vote per day per person. Well, Michael and me–2 a day probably wasn’t going to do it.

So we turned to our network. Our social network. We asked our followers on Twitter to vote and retweet the message everyday. And they did it! We were amazed at the support we got from people we’d only conversed with in spurts of 140 characters at a time. Most we’d never met in person. Some we’d never even heard of before.

Next, we turned to our friends on Facebook. Amazing support from these people! The relationships are generally stronger on Facebook, so maybe you can expect a greater response. But still the network grew. One friend, Joy Angel, posted reminders on her Facebook page as often (maybe more) than I did.

As a final push, about five days before the contest ended, Michael created a Facebook Fan page called “Help Amy Driehorst win a Merillat Good Life KitchenMerillat Good Life Contest_1248837773421” and in a matter of a day there were about 80 people in the group (there are 94 currently). These good folks committed to help us and they came through. They even asked for daily reminders. Some are our family, some our friends, some we have no idea who they are, but they helped us!

The voting ended. The waiting started. Did we get enough votes? Even if we didn’t it was a fun experiment in social media. But…did we win?

Step 3: CHECK!

We DID win the kitchen! We are so thankful to all of the people in our network and beyond who played a part in our winning.

For me, I learned a little more about the power of social media and the importance of a network. For Michael, he had fun putting his skills to use for personal reasons rather than professional ones. For the whole family, we had fun!

So as they say, “it takes a village.” But in reality, “it’s the network.”