On Retail Musings

Yesterday afternoon I went out and had my head shorn. I needed it. At thirty-three I have very little hair on the top, and what I have on the sides and back grows long, shaggy, and ridiculously curly. Also, I have a lot of grey; I started turning grey at sixteen. So, I handle my hair simply–I have it shorn down to stubble. It masks the thinness up top, and it masks the grey.

It was about a forty minute wait on a Sunday afternoon for a haircut, though, so I decided I’d pop into the store next door and buy a magazine to pass the time. I’m sorry, but the reading material you usually find in a barber shop isn’t to my liking. And next door?

An EB Games.

Ah, yes, the company I worked for for seven years.

Magazine choices at EB Games are ridiculously limited these days. Once upon a time we carried things like EGM, PC Gamer. A whole line of magazines, really. Now, there’s only one–Game Informer. Selling other magazines would have EB and sister company GameStop competing against themselves; Game Informer is the GameStop house organ/propaganda magazine. And stores are graded on how well they sell yearly subscriptions to Game Informer.

I didn’t want a subscription. I just wanted one issue. To pass the forty, fifty minute wait.

Only, the two employees in Eldersburg couldn’t figure out how to ring up the magazine.

The problem, as one explained to me, was that they only sell the subscriptions. Selling a single issue… well, that hadn’t come up in a very long time. So, they had no idea. “You could buy the subscription.” Umm… no. The last video game I bought was one of those Burger King XBox 360 games in the fall. The last time I played a video game? No. Sodding. Clue.

They called their store manager. He didn’t answer his phone.

Finally, I said, “Look, guys, I used to manage an EB. Here’s how you look up the SKU.” And I walked them through it, step by step. “It’s very simple. Look in the magazine department. Look all SKUs that are 5.99. You’ll get an alphabetical list. Find Game Informer in that list. There’s your SKU.”

Ten minutes this took. Ten minutes.


Sometimes it surprises me how little I miss EB. Seven years of my life, and you’d think I’d feel like I’d amputated a limb, but the reality is that I don’t feel anything unless I actually go in one of the stores. Then my manager mode kicks in and I find myself critiquing the store. Do I like this display? Does this layout make sense? What are they trying to push with this? But then I leave the store, and it’s just a store. Probably because the company I worked for ended with the Wednesday Morning Massacre, and the company after that was GameStop albeit with a different name.

Funny how just wanting to buy a magazine to pass the time will make one muse.

At least my head is shorn. 🙂

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