I walk into my local Big-Name Hardware store.

Since I am somewhat new to the area/store, I stop and stare around. The building is about the size of a small football field. I am looking for clues about how to find my bathroom widget.

First, there is no store directory. Call me very old school, but growing up, there were always big directories posted right at the front door that you, the customer, could consult. No.

Then I begin to wander. I go up and down and up and down and where I think the logical place for bathroom thingies. No.

From the corner of my eye I think I see a store employee whisking away. I turn and run after him. In a loud and commanding voice, I say “Excuse me, excuse me!” There is a significant pause. The clerk, unable to escape, turns to me and I ask my question. He says, “Ah, don’t know Ma’am. Try aisle eight.”

I turn and then, confused if eight is to my right or left. I turn back. The employee has disappeared as quickly as the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole. I then trudge on, determine the sequence of the aisles. After quickly grabbing another unlucky clerk, manage to find my thingy. Then it is time to go get in line with all the other gits.

Can’t begin to count the number of times this same process was repeated, when, imagine my surprise!!!!!! I found I could go to this thing called Amazon.com, find my thingy, order it and have UPS deliver it. Right to my door. Wow! Sure, it cost a tiny bit more for delivery, but, geese, isn’t my time worth something?

Online shopping was a brand new and exciting proposition. Gee! No more huge warehouse, no chasing surly clerks, no idiot treatment. Just pay your money and get your thing. Hum.

The big names in marketing today, Amazon, Google, Nike and yes, Walmart are industry giants because they have tapped into something – Responsiveness. They are (quickly) responsive to customer needs and don’t make people beg them for help.

The big losers today are Macys, Sears, Penny’s among many others. Long gone are the days when I could go into a woman’s department store and have someone help me find a pair of black pants. The usual response is something like “There over there,” arm wave, “I think.”

HR specialists, who specialize in HR, are doing the hiring at big retail firms. For construction, they are hiring people who have never done a day of construction in their lives. In education, HR people, who hire,  have never taught a class and have no idea of what is involved. In clothing and make up lines, the people who are hired have never been buyers and have little retail experience.

In their infinite wisdom, the people getting hired are the youngest, least experienced and are those who will work for the least amount of money. This, of course, is saving the company money. Right. Retail managers are discovering that if they threaten their employees’ jobs daily, they can maybe get them to smile, put their cell phones away and be of service.

These young people have no job loyalty, little work ethic, no commitment to anything except their friends and when they get paid.

So, commercial retail is dying, duh.

Amazon is actually bringing back the little guy retailer. Amazon is simply a conduit house for hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands, of little retailers who are selling one, two, maybe three things. Since this is their little business, since this is their bread and butter, the little guy is very committed to getting you you’re thingy, like right now.

I continue to shop online and still go to the Big Hardware store when there are things I simply can’t get elsewhere (boxes, fertilizer, plants.) If it were possible, I would do absolutely everything online. I get tired of employees telling me one more time “Sorry, Ma’am, I just don’t know if we carry that or not.” And then, tramping all over the back forty looking for ‘it.’ Retailers really, really, need to wake up and catch a clue. Courtney Webb

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