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Title: Dawson Black: Retail Merchant
Author: Whitehead, Harold
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: "Betty was a real comfort" (See page 110)]



_Author of_ "The Business Career of Peter Flint"


[Illustration: SPE LABOR LEVIS]


_Copyright, 1918, by_

_All rights reserved_

First Impression, July, 1918
Second Impression, July, 1918
Third Impression, October, 1919

     _I am glad to confess that whatever I do is done
     because I want to justify the faith in my ability and
     the loving encouragement which has so loyally been
     given to me. For this reason, I dedicate this to the
     one who has inspired me to do my best--My Wife._


A boy, just graduated from high school, was looking over some of his
father's business books and magazines. The more he read, the more
disappointed he became, until finally he blurted,

"Say, dad, I don't want to be a business man!"

"Why not?" asked his father, with a tolerant smile.

"Aw, there's no fun in business."

"Get that foolish idea out of your head, son. There's nothing I know of
that is quite so much fun--as you call it--as business. Where did you
get your ideas of business?"

"From them books," said son, emphatically, if ungrammatically. "All they
talk about is efficiency, getting results, checking people up, and
things of that kind."

Just ask yourself, Friend Reader, if your business reading has not given
you an idea that business should be more or less a cold-blooded
proposition, and our business life something apart from our home and
social relationships.

Unfortunately, many books, excellent in their presentation of
principles, ignore the human side, as it were, of business. I
believe--nay, I am sure--that the influence of our home life is an
important factor in the development of our business career. Our loves,
our dislikes, our jealousies, our unfortunate, yet often lovable,
unreasonablenesses are reflected in our business life. Our impetuous
business decisions are often made through the subconscious influence of
some dear one at home.

Our ambitions.--Are you, Friend Reader, so cold-blooded that you can say
your ambition is a selfish one? Honestly now, wasn't it that you want to
win something (whatever it may be)? Didn't you want to "make good" just
to please some little woman?

When you faltered and weakened in your struggle for success, wasn't it
she who gave you the necessary loving sympathy and encouragement to keep
everlastingly at it? And wasn't your ambition encouraged a little bit by
the delight you knew its attainment would give to that sweet little
woman, who thinks "her boy" is just all right? Didn't you want to "make
good" so as to please your mother and your father?

I don't care if you are a big, six-foot, bull-necked husky who smokes
black cigars and swears, you have to admit the truth of this assertion
so far as you are concerned.

Sounds like moralizing, doesn't it? And yet it's God's own truth!

It was convictions such as these which caused me to write "Dawson
Black." I wanted to give the world a book which would not be a learned
and technical treatise on retail merchandising, but would give a picture
of business life as it really is--not as the world mis-sees it.

I have tried to make "Dawson Black" a human being, not an automaton to
go through a series of jerky motions to illustrate principles. I wanted
him to do some things wrong and suffer for it, and some things right,
and perhaps still suffer a little; but I wanted to make his business
life _REAL_. I wanted the reader to say to himself, "By Jove! I did just
that same fool thing myself!"

And, underneath all this, I wanted to present a few of the principles of
retail merchandising. I wanted to show that the result of the correct
application of principle was sure, and that a principle of retail
merchandising is applicable to every kind of retail store--be it the
little corner Italian fruit stand, or be it the largest department store
in the country; be it hardware, drygoods, drugs, shoes, plumbing, or
what not.

This book will have answered its purpose if it encourages you to
persevere by showing that the majority of people make the same mistakes
that you do,--and inspires you with the nobility of business, and in
particular convinces you that you are not working for money, but for the
happiness you can give somebody else in addition to yourself.



CHAPTER                                         PAGE
          INTRODUCTION                           vii
I         AN UNEXPECTED INHERITANCE                1
II        READY TO GO AHEAD                        6
III       MY FIRST DAY                            10
IV        IN TROUBLE                              15
V         BETTY MAKES A PROMISE                   21
VI        UNTYING SOME TANGLES                    23
VII       GETTING DOWN TO WORK                    30
VIII      A WEDDING AND A CONVENTION              37
IX        A GOOD PLAN BLOCKED                     46
X         CURBING CREDIT CUSTOMERS                52
XI        MORE FINANCIAL WORRIES                  59
XII       AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR                   65
XIII      A NEW KIND OF LOTTERY                   73
XIV       SOME IDEAS IN BUYING                    80
XV        HOW TO STOP SWEARING                    89
XVI       A PROPER USE FOR EYES                   95
XVII      PLANNING TO REDUCE STOCK               100
XVIII     THE GREAT SALE                         109
XIX       A TRIP TO BOSTON                       122
XX        A SUCCESSFUL MONDAY MEETING            127
XXI       A POOR SALESMAN                        136
XXIII     TRADING STAMPS                         153
XXIV      PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE               167
XXVI      FIRE--AND NO INSURANCE                 183
XXVII     PROFIT-SHARING PLANS                   189
XXVIII    GETTING NEW BUSINESS                   200
XXIX      STIGLER RUNS AMUCK                     212
XXX       NEW TROUBLES                           217
XXXI      A NEW COMPETITOR                       222
XXXIII    A BUSINESS PROPOSITION                 246
XXXIV     DOMINATING IN SERVICE                  254
XXXVI     BETTY COMES HOME                       279
XXXVII    WOOLTON COMES TO TOWN                  285
XXXIX     A BOOMERANG IDEA                       308
XL        RULES FOR GIVING SERVICE               315
XLIV      A BUDGET OF SURPRISES                  349


"BETTY WAS A REAL COMFORT" (_See page 110_)             _Frontispiece_


"THE GIRL IN CHARGE WOULD LOOK UP SWEETLY"                         179

"I WAS STANDING OUTSIDE THE WINDOW"                                236






I hadn't seen Aunt Emma for five years, and, candidly, I had never
thought a great deal of her; so you can imagine how surprised I was when
a long-whiskered chap blew in at the Mater's to-day and told me that
Aunt Emma had died, and--had left me eight thousand dollars in cash and
a farm in the Berkshires!

Of course my first thought was to hunt up Betty and get her to help me

We had a bully good time! Betty was delighted with my good fortune; but
scolded me for not being sorry aunty had died. I suppose I should have
pretended I was sorry, although, having met her only twice in my life,
she was practically a stranger to me.

I told Betty I thought I'd throw up my job with Barlow--he runs the Main
Street Hardware Store--and get a store of my own.

We had quite a talk over it. Betty approved of it and said she was sure
I would succeed. She reminded me, though, that I was only twenty-two,
and said that if I did buy a store I should get some one to advise me
about it. She's a fine girl, Betty, but of course she knew nothing about

The next morning I put an advertisement in the county paper. Fellows, a
chap I know who works at the Flaxon Advertising Company--he's some
relation to Betty--said I ought to have used a trade paper, but I told
him I didn't want to go far from home, and a trade paper would probably
bring me answers from Oshkosh and Kankakee and such funny places, and I
would simply be paying out good money to get offers from places I didn't
want to go to. Not that I wouldn't like to travel, but Betty would . . .
well, never mind what Betty would or wouldn't.--There goes the telephone
bell. . . .

Isn't it funny! I had just got back from seeing Fellows when I had a
telephone call from Jim Simpson. Jim was a young fellow, only a little
older than I, who ran a hardware store right here in Farmdale. I used to
go to school with him. He called it a hardware store, but his business
was confined to kitchen furnishings and household hardware. It seemed he
wanted to go out West and offered to sell me his store cheap.

Fancy! Jim Simpson, right here in our town, wanting to sell out, and me
wanting to buy a store, and neither of us knowing it! I telephoned to
Betty to tell her about it, and she said to be careful, because she
didn't like him. Aren't women funny, with their likes and dislikes,
without knowing why! Jim was a pretty smart fellow, and while the store
wasn't just exactly what I had in mind, he did a fairly good business. I
made an appointment with Jim to see him the next day.

Well I guess a streak of lightning has nothing on me! Before night I was
the owner of the Black Hardware Store, for I had bought Jim out and was
to take possession the following Monday! I had seen Jim's books and I
knew everything was all right. Jim was a good fellow, and he promised to
give me all the help and advice that I wanted. He said he'd like to stay
in town with me for a few weeks, only he was anxious to go out West
right away.

The store had $9460.00 worth of goods, reckoned at cost. Jim agreed to
let me have all his fixtures and show-cases, which he said had cost him
over a thousand dollars, and good-will, for $540.00, making the cost of
the store to me $10,000.00.

When Jim told me the cost would be $10,000.00 I was considerably
disappointed, for I had only $8000.00 besides the farm. I told Jim the
farm was worth, I thought, about $8500.00, but I couldn't sell that
right away and, of course, I couldn't pay out all my ready cash, because
I wouldn't have anything left for operating expenses.

Jim was pretty decent about it, and said:

"You give me $7000.00 in cash and a mortgage on the farm and I'll give
you a year to pay the balance. With the big profit you can make in this
store, you'll be able to pay that $3000.00 in no time at all. Besides,
if you couldn't quite manage it in a year, I'd renew it, of course."

But I thought I ought to have more than $1000.00 left, and finally it
was agreed that I should give him $6500.00 in cash and a mortgage on the
farm for $3500.00

I had my $8000.00 deposited in the Farmdale Trust Company, so we went
over there and I gave him a check for the $6500.00. I thought I ought to
do well with $1500.00 besides that splendid store of goods.

Jim had started out to be a lawyer and had studied law for a while, and
he said he would draw up the mortgage himself so there wouldn't be any
delay about it. I brought him over some legal-looking papers I had from
Aunt Emma's estate--deeds, he called them--and we fixed that up without
any trouble.

I asked Jim if we ought not to take stock together, and he said, "Sure,
if you want to;" but I found that he had an exact stock-keeping system,
and Jim suggested that we pick out about a dozen items and just check
those up--"for," said he, "what's the use of checking up fifty cents'
worth of this and thirty cents' worth of that? Your time is too valuable
for that."

I agreed with him, for I couldn't afford to waste my time now that I was
the owner of a store.

Betty asked me that night if I had had a lawyer to go over the thing
with me, but I laughed at her and said, "I don't want a lawyer for a
little deal like this between Jim and me." I told her it would have been
almost an insult to have suggested that I wanted a lawyer. She shook her
head sadly and said something about a man who was his own lawyer having
a fool for a client--which I thought was not at all called for!

Before going to bed, I figured out what the store should be worth to me.
Jim had told me he turned over his stock about three times a year, and
that he made about 10 per cent. clear profit. Three times $9460.00 would
be $28,380.00; and if he made 10 per cent., clear profit, that would be
$2838.00 a year--call it $3000.00 a year. That was $60.00 a week!
Gee!--some jump from what I was getting at Barlow's! I thought how easy
it was to make money when you had some to start with! Here I had been
working my head off for a year and a half and getting only $10.00 a
week, and now I would be making $60.00. I decided to ask Betty to--oh,
well, I'd wait a month or two until I saw if it worked out just like
that. Better be on the safe side!



Mother had a talk with me about the store, in the morning and asked me
to try to get my money back from Jim. She said she had never liked Jim,
and that he was a bit careless in his transactions. When mother said
anybody was careless in their transactions, she meant he was a crook,
but I knew Jim better than that, and I told her so. Mother said she
didn't want me to lose my money as soon as I'd got it.

I was all the Mater had, for Dad had died a few years before.
Fortunately, his life was well insured and mother had enough to live on.
I told her I was a young progressive, but I was not taking any chances
with anything that affected her, so there was no need for her to worry.

I told Barlow that I'd have to leave him that day because I had bought
out Jim Simpson's store and was to start in on the following Monday. He
looked at me for a minute, and said:

"Have you paid him for it yet?"

"Yes, sir," I said.

"I suppose Jim's going out West, isn't he?"

"Yes, sir," I said again.

He paused again, and then he said:

"Well, look here, son, you've always been a good worker with me. You
still have a lot to learn, however, because you wasted your evenings
instead of doing some studying, but I'd like to see you 'make good' and
I'll help you all I can."

I was surprised at this, and I said:

"But, Mr. Barlow, we'll be competitors then!"

I began to like Barlow very much then, for he put his hand on my
shoulder, and said:

"Look here, son, can't we be competitors and yet be friends! Remember, I
have a store several times larger than the one you are going into, so it
is you who will have to compete with me, not I with you."

That was a new thought to me all right.

"We can be friends, even if we are competitors, you know," Mr. Barlow
continued, "and if you get into any kind of trouble, come around and see
me and I'll do what I can to help you."

I was sure he meant it, too. And all the time I had thought that Barlow
was a "has been." What a different slant you seem to get on people as
soon as you get up to their position! I suppose it's just like climbing
a mountain; if you want to see the view the other fellow sees, you have
to get up to the same height which he has surmounted.

I had an interesting chat with Jim that day. I went to the store and he
had marked about twenty items on his stock book, which he said was a
perpetual inventory. He passed the book over to me, and said, "I've
marked a couple of dozen items which you can look over. I've picked out
some of the things that run into a lot of money, because those are the
things you are most careful about, aren't they?--and I didn't think
you'd want to waste your time over a lot of trivial things."

I checked those up with him and in one case I found there was even more
stock than Jim said. I laughed and said, "I got you there, Jim! This
wonderful perpetual inventory isn't perfect, after all!"

"Well, of course," he replied, "there might be a fraction of a
difference here and there, but in the main it's bound to be correct." He
continued, with a bit of a grin, "If you're a little short in one thing,
you'll find a little bit over on another; and anyhow, you've got your
fixtures for half of what they're worth, to allow for any little
discrepancy that may crop up."

He showed me how the cash register worked and how to total up the week's
sales. I saw the previous week's figures were $311.28. I wondered at
that, and said:

"Why, Jim, if you sell $28,000.00 worth a year, you should have about
$560.00 worth of sales a week!"

"Oh," he replied, "don't you know this is the quiet time for kitchen
goods? You've got to expect some quiet time, you know. In one respect
it's a good time for you to take the store over, for you'll have time
enough to get yourself fully familiar with the store."

"You know, Dawson," he went on, "if you were to take over this store
about September or October, when you're simply rushed to death with
business, it might easily put you on your back. You might lose a
tremendous lot of business just because it came too quick for you to
handle, whereas, buying the store when the business is quiet will give
you a chance to learn how to handle it."

I decided that, as soon as possible, I would go over my stock carefully
and rearrange it and if I should happen to find any dead stock I'd have
a sale and clean it out and buy a lot of new stock; and, believe me, I'd
give old Barlow the biggest run for his money he ever had!



I used to think that old Barlow had an easy time as boss of my former
store, but the first day, there seemed to be so many things to do, so
many things to decide, that my head was in a whirl.

I intended to begin a thorough stock-taking, but hadn't a chance to
touch it--so many things cropped up.

I had a row with one of the help, a fellow named Larsen. Larsen had been
at the store for over thirty years. He was there before Jim Simpson got
it and he was with two of the proprietors before that. He told me he
wanted his last two weeks' pay. When I asked him what he meant, he said
that Jim had told him to ask me for it, as he had arranged with me to
pay it.

I didn't believe him. Jim wouldn't do anything like that, I was sure,
and I told Larsen that in so many words. He asked me if I thought he was
a liar. I told him he knew that better than I did. I told him if he
didn't know how to speak to his superiors, he could just pack his things
and go, and I would have him know that I was boss there. Larsen shrugged
his shoulders and said:

"You go with me and see Simpson before he runs away. You ask him whether
I lie or not. I don't insult you. I simply tell you what I know. You
call me a crook! If you were an older man you would know better. I've
been here thirty years. No one has ever questioned me. My word is as
good as his."

To please him I said we would go and see Jim the next day at his home. I
couldn't go that night, for I was too busy. Jim called in at the store
for a few minutes in the morning, and said he expected to be around for
a few days in case I wanted to see him about anything.

I told Betty that evening about the dispute with Larsen, and to my
surprise she sided with him. It looked as if Betty and mother had got up
a conspiracy to disagree with everything I did! Still, thought I, "what
do women know of business?"

I thought Betty was right in one thing, however, when she said to me:

"Did Mr. Barlow ever speak to you about knowing your place?"

"Why, no," I said.

"I'll tell you why, boy. You see, he knows he's boss, and everybody else
knows it, and he knows that if he is to get the best out of his people
he has got to get them to work _with_ him and not _for_ him. The way you
treated Larsen will tend to make him merely work for you and not for the
interests of the business. He will simply use you as a makeshift until
he can get something else. If you want to get the very best out of the
people who work for you, you have got to take a real interest in them,
and treat them with the same courtesy that you want to be treated

I was just going to tell her that I couldn't be the boss there unless I
made them keep their place, but she held up her hand and said:

"Wait a minute, boy. I'm a year younger than you, but I'm older than you
in many respects. You are only a big boy and you want some one to look
after you." She blushed a little as she said this. "You are impetuous.
You say things which you don't mean. You speak so sharply at times that
people misunderstand your naturally kind disposition and think that you
are fault-finding. And then you are really so conceited that you hate to
admit you are wrong, with the result that you leave people with a wrong
impression of you. Do you remember that saying about the man who
conquers himself being greater than he who masters a city? You should
learn to think a little more carefully about what you say before you say
it. Remember that you can say something sharp to the help and then
forget it the next minute; but they won't forget it. They will think it
over and it will rankle and they will feel spiteful toward you, and
they'll do something to 'get even' with you."

I hated to admit it, but I had got a hunch that Betty was very nearly
right. I decided I would try to control my tongue a little more, and
would remember that the people who worked for me would do better work
for me if they liked and respected me.

The next morning, I went around with Larsen, as I had promised him, to
see Jim Simpson, and found that he had gone. He had left a note for me
saying that he found he had an opportunity to get away and that he would
write me his address in a few days.

Larsen saw me twisting his note in my fingers while I was thinking
about it there, and he came over and said:

"Can I see that note, Boss?"

I passed it to him. He read it, shook his head, and said:

"Guess you believe me now, don't you, Mr. Black?"

I nodded. That's all I could do.

He shrugged his shoulders and said:

"Well, two weeks' money don't hurt me very much. I hope, Boss, he hasn't
stung you."

I went cold at the thought of it. I didn't think it could be true, but,
when I came to think it over, I realized that I had taken his word for
almost everything.

I went home and told mother and Betty about it, and they advised me to
get in touch with Mr. Barlow at once. I said I wouldn't do that--I
wasn't going to leave a man and then two or three days afterwards run to
him for help. I thought of Fellows of the Flaxon Advertising Company. I
telephoned his house and, fortunately, caught him, and he came right
around to see me.

He asked me if I had had a lawyer draw up the agreement. I told him
"no." He asked me if I had had an inventory made before buying the
store. I told him "no." He asked me if I had verified the profits of the
business for the last two years. I told him "no." He asked me if I had
had the books audited at all. I told him "no."

"Good God, lad," he said, "what have you done, anyhow?"

And then I acted like a fool. I burst out crying and told him that what
I had done had been to make an ass of myself and to give Jim Simpson

He thought a minute and said:

"Well, I should think the store would be worth very nearly that, from
what I know of it. It may not be so bad, after all."

But, when I told him that I had also given Jim a note for $3500.00 he
persuaded me to go to see a lawyer in the morning, and promised that he
would telephone to Boston to arrange with a jobber whom he knew and from
whom I knew Jim Simpson bought goods, to send some one over to help me
take an inventory.



I spent a wretched night wondering if Jim, after all, would play such a
dirty trick as to rob an old schoolmate.

Fellows telephoned me from his office and said that if I would come
there, the lawyer was there and we could all talk the matter over

In ten minutes I knew the truth, I learned that the transfer was made
properly to me and that I was responsible for that $3500.00, and,
according to the deed of transfer which Jim gave me, the note for
$3500.00 was payable _on demand_.

I told Barrington, the lawyer, that I'd swear the note was payable one
year after date. He asked me, "Are you sure?"--and if he hadn't asked me
that I would have been, but as it was I was wondering which it was. He
asked me again, "Are you sure it isn't a payable-on-demand note?" I
didn't know, and I didn't know Jim's address!

Barrington then said that the best thing to do was to get an inventory
made as quickly as possible, and then try to get hold of Simpson and see
if we couldn't adjust it with him.

"But," he said--and he looked at me very sternly--"if anything is done
it will be purely because of his generosity or because of the fear we
can instill into him. You are legally responsible for the $3500.00 and
apparently it is payable on demand. How much is the farm worth on which
you gave him a mortgage?"

I told him it was worth about $8,500.00.

"Hum," he said, and pursed his lips.

"Couldn't I deed it to Mother or somebody," I said, "and save it?"

He shook his head. "No, that wouldn't be legal," he said.

"How I wish I had come to you at first!" I said.

"Yes," he replied absentmindedly, "that's the trouble with many
so-called business men. They never think of using a lawyer to keep them
out of trouble, but come to them only after they have got into it!"

A salesman from Bates & Hotchkin came in the afternoon and said his firm
had told him about my wanting an inventory taken and offered to stay
with me till it was done.

"What will it cost?" I asked. My $1500.00 began to look very small to me

He smiled and shook his head, and said:

"It won't cost you anything. If we can be of service to you, we want to

I had also arranged for an accountant to go over the books. He was a
Scotchman, named Jock McTavish, and he was to come the next morning.

Betty urged me to have him install a proper accounting system for me
while he was on the job. I shook my head and said:

"There may not be anything worth putting an accounting system in for.
I've ruined my life and I've spoiled my chances of your--"

She put her hand over my mouth and said:

"Don't be silly! Now is the time to see if you have any manhood in you.
Anybody can talk big when everything goes right! No one ever made a
success without having some failure. Don't you remember what Lord
Beaconsfield said, when he was asked how he attained success?"

I shook my head gloomily.

"He said, 'By using my failures as stepping stones to success!'"

"Well," said I, "I've certainly one big stepping stone here."

"Quite right," said she, "then step up it like a man!"

A girl like Betty, I thought, was worth bucking up for! I just set my
teeth and decided I would pull through the thing somehow!

I thought the worst had happened, but I found it hadn't. Herson, the
salesman from Bates & Hotchkin, completed the inventory, the next day,
with the assistance of the others in the store. I can't say I did much
to help, for I was simply consumed with anxiety. All I did was to serve
customers while it was going on, and that helped to keep me from
worrying too much.

Herson came over to me when he finished the inventory and said:

"I'm afraid you are going to be sadly disappointed at the figures. I
have put the goods in at their present valuation, as near as I can
figure it, and I find that there are $8,100.00 worth."

"Then," said I, "I have lost over a thousand dollars on that

"You surely have," said he.

"Well," I thought, "even so, there's a chance of recovering, and Betty
is looking to me to make good and I must!"

But there was worse to come! McTavish, the accountant, found that the
average sales for the last two years were only $22,000.00 in round
figures, and I had estimated at $28,000.00.

"My," I said to him, "that will bring the profits down to about $40.00 a

"No," he replied, "they'll no be mooch over half o' that."

"Why?" I asked in amazement.

"Because," said he, "you based your estimate of pr-rofits on the
percentage of expense. Therefore, Meester Black, the less your sales
are, the gr-reater becomes the percentage of expense."

I didn't quite follow this, but he continued:

"Ye should set a dead-line of expense and departmentize your costs."

I looked quite mystified by this, and he explained:

"Do ye noo compr-rehend? I mean ye should have only a certain percentage
of expense for rent, salaries, advertising and se-emilar items, and then
plan your expenses not to exceed these percentages."

"I see," said I. "Will you help me with that?"

"I surely will. I can give the matter some attention in aboot a week,"
said he.

"Then," said I, "so far as you can see, the business, instead of showing
me a profit of about $60.00 a week, will show me only a profit of about

"Just aboot that," he replied. "Indeed, it will approximate somewhat
less. There is one other matter, Mr. Black, I would suggest you do at
once, and that is, let me see the agreement you had wi' that mon,

"That's at Barrington's," I said.

"Well, can we no get hold of Barrington noo?"

"Surely. I'll introduce you to him."

"Don't fash yoursel'," said he with a smile, "that'll no be necessary,
for he was in the store while ye were at yer lunch to-day and I had a
convarsation with him."

"What's the trouble, then?" I asked.

"Merely this," said he, and he put his arm on my shoulder very kindly.
"That mon, Simpson, left $527.00 worth of accounts which he did no pay
and I believe by the agreement ye made wi' him that ye're liable for

I was too thunderstruck to say anything! What a hash I had made of my
first week's business! So far as I could see, I had given up a good job
for one with very little more real money, but a lot of care and worry; I
had been robbed of about $1,300.00 in stock and $500.00 in unexpected
liabilities. My first week's business, then, showed me a loss of nearly
$2,000.00! I began to think I was not so all-fired clever as I thought I

Betty was a little brick! When I told her all about it, she said:

"Well, I don't see anything so _very_ dreadful in that. If you have it
in you to make a business man, you can soon increase the sales of the
store so that you will be making all you thought you would, and perhaps
it won't hurt you to lose a little money at the beginning. Even now, you
are much better off than a great many other people are. If only Simpson
doesn't demand his $3,500.00 at once, so that you don't lose the
farm"--I shivered at the thought--"you'll pull through all right."

When I figured up the sales at the end of the week there was nothing
like the $560.00 that I was figuring on. It was only $281.15. I had more
respect then for proprietors of retail stores than I had a week before!
I hoped that next week I would have that division of expense worked out
so that I could know just what my expenses were going to be.



On the following Monday, I was in the store, feeling kind of blue over
the general muddle I had made of things, when who should go by but Betty
and Stigler! If there was one man in the town I disliked, it was
Stigler. He was one of those narrow-faced individuals who goes around
with a perpetual sneer. I never heard of him saying or doing anything
good to any one. It was said of him that he was so mean that he grew a
wart on the back of his neck to save buying a collar button!

Stigler was in love with Betty. I didn't blame him for that; but what
she could see in a fellow like him got me! I was jealous--I know I was
jealous, and I told Betty so when she accused me of it that night.

"Dawson," she said, "you act like a jealous, spoiled child."

And then the love, that had been growing in my heart, became too great
to contain.

"Betty," I cried hotly, "you know how much I love you! Do you wonder
that I'm jealous, when I see you with that man?"

"And why shouldn't I be with him?" she said archly.

"Well, you can't be with him any more," I said.

"Hoity-toity! and who are you to tell me whom I shall or shall not go

Her words were discouraging, but something in her eyes. . . .

Something had happened to the town when I left Betty's house. The hard
pavements were gone, and instead of them were beautiful silvery clouds.
The ordinary air had changed into exhilarating ether. I wanted to sing;
I wanted to tell people of my good fortune; but everybody must have
known it to have looked at me. I kept saying to myself, "I'm engaged to
be married! I'm engaged to be married!" When the teams went by they went
"Click _clack_ety click!--click _clack_ety click!--I'm engaged to be
married!--I'm engaged to be married!"

Mother had gone to bed when I got home, but I woke her up and told her
the good news. I expected her to be surprised, but she wasn't a bit. All
she said was: "Well, everybody knew it but you!"

I suppose it is because Love is blind that I didn't know. I told mother
that we were going to be married on the 19th of June.

"Do you think it wise to get married so soon?"

"Yes, indeed," I said, "I need the help of a woman like Betty in my
business. You see, mother, her business experience and her--"

Mother kissed me on the lips and said:

"Don't bother to think up any excuses--Love itself is sufficient excuse
for that."

I saw some tears in mother's eyes. I put my arm around her waist and

"You are happy, aren't you, mother, dear?"

She kissed me again and pushed me from her, and hurried to her room.
When she got to the door she turned around and said, "God bless you, my

Believe me, I had _some_ mother.



On Tuesday I received a request for "immediate payment" of a demand note
for $3,500.00, through some shyster lawyer in New York.

I took it up to Barrington and asked him what to do about it. He gave me
a paper to sign, and I put my name to it without bothering to read it.
He then spoke sharply to me, and said:

"For heaven's sake, lad, haven't you learned better than to sign your
name to a paper without reading it?"

"B-but," I said, stammering, "it's different with you!"

"Different be damned!" he exclaimed petulantly. Then, "Excuse me, young
man, but really, for a man in business you are acting very childishly.
You thought Jim Simpson was your friend and trusted him. Now, even after
the mess you got into, you haven't learned your lesson, and you sign
anything I ask you to, without looking at it!"

I read it through, and it was something about giving him full power to
act for me in the matter of the note.

"Now," said he, "this is going to cost you some money"--I winced at
this--"but I'll see if I can't save you something."

He got the New York lawyer on the long distance and offered him a
thousand dollars cash in full settlement of the claim, or else
threatened to contest the legality of the note. The upshot of it was
that Barrington made a trip to New York to see him, and they compromised
on $1,250.00.

When Barrington returned from New York he came around to the house to
see me.

"Well," he said, "I think I've saved you some money this time. I've
settled that claim for $1,250.00 cash, which I have paid."

He gave me also the bill of expenses which he had incurred. I put the
figures on a bit of paper and twisted it nervously, wondering how I was
going to pay that sum of money; for I remembered I had only $1,500.00 in
the bank, and I had those bills to pay that Jim left behind and which I
had unknowingly agreed to assume. Barrington and the accountant between
them compromised on those, by the way, at seventy-five cents on the
dollar, but there was nearly $400.00 to pay there, and if I paid that
$1,250.00 with the expenses it would wipe out my bank account

Barrington looked at me quizzically, and asked:

"What's worrying you now, young man?"

I told him. He laughed, and then remarked:

"That needn't worry you at all. You have your farm clear now and I'll
take a mortgage on it for $1,500.00, and that will enable you to pay
this bill up right away and still hold your farm. I was just looking for
an investment of about that size. You are no worse off than before, and
I will simply have a lien on the farm for $1,500.00 instead of Simpson
having one for $3,500.00; and really, in this case, I think you will be
much safer."

The next morning we fixed up the mortgage.

I hoped then that I was through with the troubles of getting the
business from Simpson. But when I reviewed what it had cost me I
wondered why I ever gave up my safe, easy job with Barlow! I think the
trouble with me was that I didn't realize that, while I wasn't making
much money, I certainly wasn't taking any risk and was learning a good
business. I realized then how stupidly I used to fool away a lot of time
that I was paid for. When I thought of the hours I often shirked and the
jobs I used to leave undone, I wondered that Barlow didn't fire me and
the other fellows long ago. I wondered if other bosses had just the same
trouble? I wondered if I was just an average store clerk?

What a different view you take of things when you become a boss
yourself! Already I felt that the people working for me should consider
my interests, and not hesitate to work hard for me; and yet when I was a
clerk only two weeks before I used to begrudge doing the least thing
more than my bare duties called for, and I had always felt I ought to
get an immediate cash return for anything extra I did. For the first
time I realized that I used to panhandle along through the week just
working for the pay envelope without much thought of Barlow's welfare at

Well, I had surely learned a lesson. I was a wiser man than I had been
two weeks before. In that brief time more things had happened to me than
had ever happened before, I guess. I had inherited $8,000.00 cash and a
farm worth $8,500.00; I had bought out Jim Simpson, and then found only
$8,100.00 worth of stock when I thought I was getting $9,460.00; I had
given him a demand note for $3,500.00 which I thought was for twelve
months; I had assumed over $400.00 worth of bills of which I didn't know
anything at all; and, finally, I had found that the business amounted to
only $22,000.00 a year instead of $28,000.00.

I was reciting this tale of woe to Betty when she remarked:

"Well, you can't do anything else wrong just yet, can you?"

"I don't know," I declared. "It seems to me that I can't do anything

I promised Betty to follow the accountant's advice and set a deadline of

He and I had worked that out. It seemed that my expenses were far too
high for the business I was doing. Said he:

"Ye are doing noo only aboot $22,000.00 a year. Ye hae a stock of
approximately $8,000.00, and ye really should be doing $42,000.00 a year
wi' it."

"How do you figure that out?" I asked.

"That's on the tur-rn-over."


"Yes, ye ought to tur-rn over your investment in goods three and a half
times a year--that is, ye ought to sell out your $8,000.00 stock that
number of times; and as ye plan to add aboot 50 per cent. for the
pr-rofit, ye should sell aboot $42,000.00 worth of goods within the
peeriod of a year."

"And I am selling only $22,000.00? Then you mean to say that I am
selling only about half as much hardware as I ought to with my present

"That statement of yours is just aboot correct," said he with a nod.

"Wait a minute!" I cried excitedly. "You've made a mistake. I don't make
50 per cent. profit. I make only 33 1-3 per cent., all around!"

"Ye mean," he declared quietly, "that ye make only 33 1-3 per cent. _on
sales_. To get that percentage ye hae to add 50 per cent. onto your
cost. Your percentage of profit on sales is verra deefferent frae your
percentage o' profit on cost. Bide a wee," said he, and he did some
rapid figuring on a slip of paper. "This will perhaps make it clearer to
ye," and he handed it to me.

I never realized, until he worked it out, just the difference between
profit on cost and profit on sales. Here it is:

20%  added to cost = 16⅔% profit on selling price
25%  added to cost = 20%  profit on selling price
30%  added to cost = 23+% profit on selling price
33⅓% added to cost = 25%  profit on selling price
40%  added to cost = 28+% profit on selling price
50%  added to cost = 33⅓% profit on selling price
60%  added to cost = 37+% profit on selling price
75%  added to cost = 42+% profit on selling price
80%  added to cost = 44+% profit on selling price
90%  added to cost = 47+% profit on selling price
100% added to cost = 50%  profit on selling price

I thought the whole thing over carefully, and it seemed to me that what
I had to do was, first of all, to analyze my stock and see if there were
any items in which I was too heavily stocked, and if so to reduce that
stock as soon as possible, and then put the money realized in other
goods that would turn over quickly. I could see that that would increase
the entire stock turn-over, at the same time increasing total sales by
substituting new, fast-turning, stock for the excess stock in the lines
I then had, and this would mean reducing my percentage of expense.

The accountant had remarked that increasing the turn-over was the big
secret of meeting rising costs, and I would see that he was right. My
head was in a whirl with percentages, costs, selling prices, gross and
net profits, turn-over, increased cost of goods, higher prices of labor
and a lot of other things going through it like a merry-go-round.

I decided that the next step was to arrange a definite system of keeping
track of expenses. I would divide the expenses into different classes
and see that no single class of expense exceeded a certain limit which I
would set for it.

Next, I would build up a logical advertising campaign. Talking with
Fellows had converted me to the value of advertising. I had asked him if
there was ever a time when a man could afford to stop advertising. He
replied, "Yep, a man can afford to stop advertising when he can afford
to be forgotten!"

Then I would find some way of getting my help--I had five people at the
time--to work better for me than they seemed to have been doing. They
seemed to look upon me as a joke. I didn't know that I could blame them,
for I certainly felt like several kinds of joke myself.

The accountant on looking over my expenses had thought that my salary
roll was too high. I told him that in that case I would cut salaries all
round. His reply was, "I wouldna do that if I were ye. A more deesirable
plan would be to see if ye canna adjust your affairs to give them more
money"--I gasped at this--"and reduce the number o' your employees."

I hope I never have to go through another two weeks like the first two
after I bought the store. I was only a boy when Aunt Emma died and left
me the money, but I think I grew up quickly--at least Betty said so. She
thought it did me good.

When she told me that, I cried with amazement:

"Doing me good?--to lose all that money in two weeks!"

"Yes, indeed," she declared, "you're just beginning to realize that
you've a lot to learn, and you're much nicer to be with than you were
before." She gave a funny little smile, as she continued, "You know,
boy, you were awfully conceited--you're awfully conceited now; but I'm
glad to notice that you're not so dead sure of everything as you used to

"Betty!" said I . . . But what happened then is nobody's business but
mine--and Betty's.



Our total sales for the second week were $401.75, over a hundred dollars
better than the previous week. Nothing like the $560.00 a week that Jim
Simpson had led me to believe the store was doing, but not so bad as it
might be.

There was one thing I wished, however, and that was that we had a larger
cash trade. Out of the $400.00 business we did the second week, $160.00
was charged.

I found out that Jim Simpson had had a whole lot of book debts owing
him; but, instead of turning them over to me at a discount, as the
accountant told me he should have done, he had collected what bills he
could, and then gave the others receipts in full for whatever they could

I didn't know how much he got this way, but old Peter Bender, the
carpenter, had come in for some goods, $18.75 worth, charged, and had
told Larsen that Jim had gone to him just before he left town and had
given him a "clear bill of health," as he called it, for $10.00, in
settlement of his account of sixty odd dollars.

I told Larsen, whom I called the manager, that we must cut down the
charge business and build up the cash trade. Larsen shrugged his
shoulders and said, "It's up to you, Boss." Larsen hadn't seemed to
warm up to me at all after that scrap over the two weeks' pay that Jim
did him out of, even after I had told him that I would consider him
manager under me. . . .

At the beginning of the third week I put in three days of the hardest
work I ever did in my life. I suppose my help thought I had a cinch
because I had been working out a division of expenses with the aid of
the accountant! I know when I was at Barlow's we clerks used to grumble
because we did all the work while old Barley Water, as we called him,
used to spend so much time in his little office. I wished I could make
my help understand that I was working for them as well as myself, but I
guessed it was hopeless, so I didn't try--then.

Well, this is how we divided expenses. The accountant said:

"Let us feegure our plans for the coming year on the assumption that
ye'll do $30,000.00 worth o' beesiness. That is an increase of more than
$7,000.00, but this store ought to do much more than that.

"Your total expenses should be aboot twenty per cent. of sales, or a
total of $6,000.00."

"What are they at present?" I asked, rather shamefacedly, for I felt I
ought to know such an important thing as that.

The accountant perceived my look and he squeezed my arm sympathetically,
as he said:

"Dinna worry aboot that, laddie. Ye're noo worse off than a lot o'
others I ken in that respect. Not half the dealers in the country have
an analysis o' their expenses."

That accountant was a brick.

Well, the accountant told me that my present expenses were, in round
figures, $7,000.00.

"Gee! that's fierce!" I said. "Have I got to cut down expenses

"That's just aboot what ye hae to do," was the grave reply.

"But how?" I said, perplexed. "I can't possibly do it."

"Can't?" he said, and raised his eyebrows. "Did you no ever hear aboot
the rabbit and the bull pup?"

"No. Shoot!"

"It's verra short," he laughed. "A rabbit was one day chased by a
vicious dog. He ran as har-rd as he could, but the dog had nearly caught
up to him, so, to escape, he ran up a tree."

"But a rabbit can't climb a tree!" I exclaimed.

"Not generally," was the response, "but this rabbit had to!"

How some silly little thing like that makes you think! It was some time
before the silence was broken. Then I said:

"Well, how do we do it?"

"This diveesion of expenses will help ye," he said with a smile, and
passed over this paper.


                   _Per Cent._                    _Present Cost_
Salaries               11.0         $3,300.00        $4,100.00
Rent                    3.0            900.00         1,000.00
Taxes and insurance     1.5            450.00           460.00
Advertising             1.0            300.00           120.00
General Expenses        1.5            450.00           750.00
Delivery                 .5            150.00            50.00
Depreciation             .5[1]         150.00           350.00
Heat and light           .5            150.00           110.00
Bad debts                .5[1]         150.00           500.00
                       ----         ---------        ---------
                       20.0         $6,000.00        $7,440.00

[Footnote 1: These two items are estimated only, for the records of the
old business are too incomplete to insure accurate figures.]

I looked the schedule over.

"Then my expenses," I said, "are $1,440.00 more than they should be?"

He nodded. "And dinna forget," he added, "that these figures are based
on $30,000.00 worth o' business. This means that ye maun increase your
sales aboot $7,000.00 during the year. Unless ye do, the percentage cost
o' doing business is going to be conseederably higher than twenty per
cent. Unless ye can increase your business ye'll hae to decrease your
expenses even more than $1,440.00."

"Well," I remarked grimly, "bring out the axe. How are we going to cut
it down?"

"That's the brave spirit!" Jock replied. Did I tell you, that Jock
McTavish was a Scotchman? Well, he was--very much so. Perhaps that's
what made him such a good accountant.

"Noo I know ye mean business," he said, "and noo we hae the facts to
wor-rk on. There are numerous businesses ruined every year because o'
the lack o' moral courage on the part of their owners to face facts and
cut their cloth accordin' tae their means. Let's start wi' salaries.
What are they noo?"

"Let me see," I mused. "I think they are--"

"Never mind," he said brusquely, "I _ken_. Get into the habit o'
kennin', laddie. Ye'll never _guess_ your way to success. Here are the

                             _Present_     _Suggested_
Black, proprietor             $30.00         $25.00
Larsen, manager                20.00          20.00
Jones, clerk                   12.00 }
                                     }        12.00
Myricks, clerk                 10.00 }
Wilkes, boy                     6.00           6.00
                            --------       --------
Weekly payroll                $78.00         $63.00

"I really think ye are no' justified in giving yourself $30.00 a week,"
he continued. "Twenty dollars would be nearer correct. However,
compromise and for the time being mak' it $25.00.

"You really should'na need five people in the store the noo, for, of
course, you intend to work har-rd, don't ye?"

I nodded.

"Well, deesmiss either Jones or Myricks. But, give the laddie say three
weeks or a month to find another posseetion. It's best to let help go in
such a way that they will feel that ye hae no done them an injustice.
Tell him frankly why ye do it, and he'll comprehend all right."

"Won't the other fellows kick at having to do more work?" I asked.

"Aye, probably, but tell them that it's only until the business is on
its feet and then ye'll do better for them."

"Very well, so much for salaries. What about rent? I can't cut that
down, can I?"

"No, that's an item ye canna reduce unless the landlord will give it, so
leave that for the time being.

"Taxes and insurance ye had also better leave as they are at present."

"I have placed advertising at $300.00, I said."

"Ye can reduce that, of course, and ye can save something there."

"No, _sir_!" I exclaimed. "That's one item I certainly will not cut a

My firmness so surprised him that he said never a word more about it,
but went on to the next item.

"General expenses," he commented. "These are 'way too high. Ye'll
doobtless find waste rampant among your help and will hae to adopt
stringent measures to prevent it. Most retail stores are neglectful o'
this item--they're careless and waste and misuse supplies. They no' seem
to consider what kind of twine, paper, and such things are best and most
economical for their particular needs, but buy in a haphazard manner
whatever is offered tae them. Ye want to exercise the same care in
buying supplies that ye do in buying goods."

"All right," I said. "We'll make a drive at that item of expense and try
to put it where it belongs."

"Deleevery expenses," continued Jock, "are lighter in this town than the
general average. Ye'll probably save something here, but if ye cultivate
the better class trade, which that mon Simpson did'na do, the present
low delivery cost will rise.

"'Depreciation.' This item depends on yourself, how ye buy and how ye
keep the stock.

"Heat and light expenses are verra low at preesent, but the store looks
glower an' gloomy after dusk. Ye may want to improve that. People will
always gravitate to the well-lighted shop.

"And bad debts," he concluded, pursing his lips--"that's an item ye'll
hae to watch carefully. I should advise ye tae ha' some deefinite system
of giving credit and some plan of encouraging cash business. At present
your charrge sales are far too numerous for your pocketbook to carry."

Well, that's the gist of what was said. The upshot was that I determined
to keep each item as near the estimate as possible, and (this was
Betty's suggestion) if any one item proved to be less than the estimate,
this should be saved and not spent to help some other lame dog of
expense over the stile.



Barlow sent a copy of _Hardware Times_ over to me, in which he had
marked an item about the State Convention the next week. I showed it to
Betty and remarked:

"Of course I can't afford to go, because it comes the same day as we get
married, and you remember, Betty, we agreed that we would not have our
honeymoon until we had 'turned the corner'."

But to my surprise, she urged me to go. She said I might learn a whole
lot there by meeting other hardware men and the new ideas I would get
would help me very much under present conditions. So Betty and I decided
to go to the Convention--and also make it our honeymoon. I telephoned
Barlow and thanked him for sending the notice to me.

The salary adjustment I left until I should return. Even Jock agreed to

It was mighty nice of Barlow to send me that notice--and he a competitor
of mine--or rather, I was a competitor of his, I guess!

Thirteen may be an unlucky number for some folks, but it sure was the
lucky day for me, for on that day Betty and I were married. It was a
quiet little home wedding. No one was there but mother, the two girls,
and a cousin of Betty's from Hartford. Everything went off splendidly.

We went on the 12:30 train. Barlow went ahead of us on the 9:30. I
extracted a promise from him before he left that he wouldn't tell
anybody that we were just married, because if they did know they would
tease the life out of us. He never let it out, and Betty and I had the
time of our lives.

The only incident that marred the day for us happened at the station. We
got there ten minutes before train time, and who was there, leaning
against the newsstand, but Stigler. He made no attempt to come near us,
but raised his hat and said in a loud, harsh voice, "Well, Mrs. Betty
Black, so you've been and got married after all! I wish yer luck of your
bargain!" He looked me up and down, turned his head, spat contemptuously
on the floor, and stalked out of the station.

"Really, that man's 'narsty' temper will get him into trouble some of
these days," so quoth I to Betty.

She, however, did not treat it as a joke. "Be careful of that man, boy
dear," she said. "He really hates you. You know he--he--"

"Yes, I know," I laughed contentedly. "He wanted to get my Betty, but he

"Be careful of him, boy dear, anyhow."

The train then came in, and off we went to the Convention, as Betty
said, combining business with pleasure.

Barlow met us at the other end, and turned Betty over to the Chairman of
the Ladies' Entertainment Committee and took me over to Convention Hall.

"You two will have to endure the hardship of being parted for an hour or
two," he said with a laugh.

"Look after him, Mr. Barlow," said Betty. "Remember he is down here for
business, and he must not waste his time with nonsense."

"I never called you such a name as that _yet_," I said, and then we

Barlow was an awfully interesting man to talk to! I never realized how
human he was before. Certainly when I worked for him all the clerks at
that time looked upon him as a creature outside of our world altogether.
I don't think it ever dawned on any of us that he was a real human
being, with likes and dislikes just the same as ourselves, and we never
credited him with any thought or consideration for us other than how
much work he could get out of us!

I felt a little ashamed of myself, in talking with him, to see how
really interested he was in the welfare of all his employees. The
thought occurred to me, while he was talking, that, as he was interested
in us, why in heaven's name hadn't he told us so?

In thinking over the matter later on it seemed to me that it would be a
good idea for the boss sometimes to ask a clerk how his wife was, or how
the new baby was getting along. In fact, I didn't think it would hurt to
take a clerk home to dinner occasionally--not often enough to make him
one of the family, as it were, but it seemed to me that a proprietor
could develop a great feeling of loyalty in his people over a round of
beef, or a good cigar, out of business hours, than in any other way. I
decided to try it some time, when things got better settled at the

When we got to the Convention it seemed that Barlow knew everybody, and
he appeared to be very popular.

A fussy little man, named Minker, who seemed to have something to say
to every one, introduced himself to me, and we had some conversation. He
asked me where I came from, and I told him.

"Oh," he said, "then you know Barlow?"

"Very well, indeed," I replied. "In fact, I used to work for him."

"If he was as fine a boss as he is a president, you were certainly
fortunate," he returned.

"President of what?" I asked, in surprise.

He looked blank. "Why," he said, "president of the association!"

"I didn't know he had ever been president of the association!" I
exclaimed. "He never said anything about it to us!"

"Hm!" he said, as he looked at me over his glasses. "Don't you ever read
your trade papers?"

I felt a little bit small when I replied:

"N-no;" and then, feeling the need to excuse myself for it, I continued,
"I've really been too busy."

"Ha!" he jerked, putting his head on one side like a sparrow, "bad habit
to get into, that, if I may say so without being rude. Man can't know
how best to conduct his own business unless he has some idea of what
other people are doing. Got to know that to keep even with the times.
Come along with me."

And then this little man, who I afterward found was one of the
wealthiest hardware dealers in our State, took me by the arm, saying:

"I am going to introduce you to a trade paper man you ought to know."

He took me up to a group of men who were laughing at a story told by a
big, raw-boned, loose-jointed man who seemed to be popular with the

"Rob," said Minker, "come here!" And the big man good-naturedly came
over, put his arm around the little man's shoulder, and asked:

"Well, what is it this time?"

"I want you to meet Mr. Dawson Black, who has only recently opened a
store. Mr. Black," said he, "this is Mr. Robert Sirle, known to all his
friends as Rob. He is the editor of _Hardware Times_."

"I'm mighty glad to meet you, Mr. Black," said Mr. Sirle, giving me a
hearty handshake, "You bought Jim Simpson's business, didn't you?"

"Why, yes!" I replied. "How do you know?"

He smiled. "I wish I had known you a few months ago, Mr. Black," he
said. "I might have saved you a bit of money. Didn't you read in
_Hardware Times_ some two years ago about the mess Simpson got into?"

"Why, no," I returned, "I don't know as I--I--as a matter of fact, I
don't subscribe to trade papers. I haven't time to read them."

I would like to tell you what this big Westerner said. I am not sure
whether it is what he said or the way he said it, but we sat down and we
had a very serious talk, in which he told me how necessary it was for a
business man to watch at all times the development of his trade; how the
reading of trade papers kept him constantly posted, and continually gave
him new ideas. He gave me some excellent pointers, and invited me to
write to him any time he could be of help to me.

I at once subscribed for two copies of his paper to be sent to the
store--one for myself and one for the salesmen. The last was his
suggestion. I felt it would be a good investment, for, as he said, when
the clerks read the magazine they get interested in the bigger things
about the business, they learn more about the goods, and get to
appreciate some of the boss's responsibility and trouble.

It certainly was a fine thing for me to meet this man, representing a
paper whose sole object appeared to be to help the retail merchant.

Some wonderfully interesting talks were given. One discussion which
interested me greatly was about giving credits. Credit appeared to be
the bane of the hardware man's life. Mr. Sirle had charge of a question
box, and gave some fine suggestions which I decided I would try to adapt
to my business.

One other thing, as soon as it was mentioned, aroused a lot of heated
discussion--that was mail-order competition. Even in my short experience
I had felt the pressure of these mail-order houses, but somehow or other
I had taken it as a natural evil, and had not thought of taking any
particular steps to combat it. One thin, cadaverous man voiced my
thoughts when he said in a mournful drawl:

"The best thing to do is to appeal to the patriotism of the people. We
live in the town, they know us, and they are with us all the time, and
their very friendship for us ought to be enough to make them give us the
business. I believe we all ought to have posters saying 'Buy in your
home town' or something like that, and if you say this to the people
long enough, they'll do it."

As soon as he finished a short, roly-poly kind of man jumped excitedly
to his feet, and, having obtained permission to speak, said:

"I'm sorry I can't agree with Mr. Jenks. It's all right to talk
patriotism, but, hang it all, is there any one here who would buy from
his home town if he could buy cheaper elsewhere? I'll bet every one of
us here buys things out of our own towns. I know I buy my clothes in
Boston, and my wife buys her shoes when she goes to New York to visit
her sister. I can get better clothes and cheaper clothes in Boston than
I can in my home town, and I should consider myself a poor business man
if I put up with inferior clothes at a high price, just to support some
local man who couldn't compete fairly with Boston merchants.

"I tell you, gentlemen, it's just a question of competition, and I think
it's all poppycock to talk about appealing to a man's sentiment about
his home town. All things being equal, I believe the local man would get
the business every time. But if a man can buy a stove cheaper from the
mail-order house than he can from me, I shouldn't expect to get the

"As a matter of fact, there are very few things that the mail-order
house can beat us on. I know a fellow came into my store a few months
ago and told me he could buy a stove I was selling cheaper from the
mail-order house. I took him up on it, and said I didn't believe he
could. He showed me the stove in the catalog, and I could see that it
wasn't the same thing I had, and wasn't as good. I pointed out to him
the difference, and he said, 'Yes, but look at the difference in the
price!' He had forgotten that he had to pay the freight, and, when that
was put on, there was mighty little difference between the two. Then I
said to him: 'You send for that stove and set it up beside the one I
have here, and, when you get them side by side, if you can honestly say
that mine isn't the better value for your money, I'll pay the bill on
your stove!'

"He hesitated at that, and then I told him about a woman who bought one
of these kitchen cabinets from a mail-order house, and, when she got it,
it was all banged up, and she had no end of trouble in getting it
straightened out, besides having to wait about six weeks before it came.
She reckoned up afterward that if she had bought it of me she'd have
been dollars in pocket and could have seen just what it looked like
before buying it. That settled him, and he bought the stove from me!"

That started me thinking, and, going home on the train, I had a talk
with Mr. Barlow about it, and also about the question of credits, for
these were the two things that impressed me most at the whole
convention, although there were many other interesting things taken up.

"I wonder," said I to Mr. Barlow, "whether it would be possible for us
to kind of work together on credits--whether, if I were to tell you what
customers owed me money, it would save you getting in badly with them,
and you do the same with me?"

I felt very nervous in making this proposition, for I didn't know
whether it was proper or not. I had never given such things as credits
or competition the least thought while I was working with Barlow. I was
surprised and delighted at the fine way in which he said:

"Why, certainly I will. Come up to the store and talk it over with me."

I made an appointment with him for the following night to discuss a
policy to adopt for mutual protection on credits, and also on fighting
mail-order competition.

I could not help thinking what a wonderful thing a convention is. I had
learned more about business in those three days than I ever knew before.

When I weighed the cost of going to the convention against the benefits
I got out of it, I considered that I had made a good investment--not
counting the happiness of a honeymoon!



I had promised to get to Barlow's as soon after eight as I could, and I
was there at ten minutes past. Barlow welcomed me and led me to his
office in the rear, and there I met with a surprise, for who should be
sitting there in his office but Stigler, who ran the only other hardware
store in town.

Stigler didn't attempt to rise when I came in; but just nodded curtly
and said, "Howdy?"

I looked blank for a minute, and then said:

"I see you are busy, Mr. Barlow. I'll come in again."

"Sit right down, Dawson," he replied, "for if we are going to help each
other on credits and on mail-order competition, we all need to get
together, and it would not be fair for you and me to discuss this matter
without asking Mr. Stigler's help also."

"Well," said Stigler, "if you fellers can show me anything that'll save
me a dollar, I'm on. But I'm from Missouri! K-ha!"

His laugh was like the sound of a cork coming out of a bottle.

Barlow then explained to him what we purposed doing. When he had
finished, Stigler said:

"Sounds pretty, all right, but how are yer goin' to do it?"

"Couldn't we arrange," I offered, "to tell each other who we are
charging goods to, and so prevent ourselves from running up unsafe

"How d'yer mean?" said Stigler.

"Well," I continued, "suppose there's a carpenter who has a bill of
thirty or forty dollars coming to me which is overdue--why I tell you
and Mr. Barlow that he owes me that money, and, when he comes to you for
credit, you won't do business with him until he has paid me. That will
make him pay me and save you running into danger with him."

I saw those thin lips of Stigler's turn up with derision.

"And," I continued hastily, "if anybody owes you anything, you let us
know and we won't sell to him until he has paid you."

"Listens very pretty, Black," Stigler sneered, "but I guess when you've
been in business as long as I have, you won't talk so glib about lettin'
your competitors know just what you're doin' . . . Hold on," he said,
when he saw Barlow and myself about to protest. "I don't mean that you
fellers ain't straight, y' understand, but you couldn't prevent that
information leakin' out to yer clerks, and what's to prevent them going
to my customers and sellin' to them? And, besides, how do I know I'd get
a _complete_ list of yer creditors, and how do you know you'd get a
complete list of mine? If that's your story, fellers, I'm goin' home!"
and he rose to get his hat.

"Wait a minute," said Barlow. "If you wish, we can hire an accountant,
and pay him jointly, and have him draw off those figures, and we can
refer to him when we want to know anything about any one."

Stigler lay back in his chair, and nodded his head toward us several
times sarcastically.

"Of course Black, here," he said, "is a novice, and I don't give him
credit for knowin' much; but you, Barlow, I thought you knew better than
to put up a game like that on me. Nothin' doin', I tell yer. I wasn't
born yesterday, and I ain't goin' to let you fellers get the inside pull
of my business if I know it. Y' understand, I ain't got nothin' against
you fellers, but I think if you just go ahead your way, and I go mine,
we'll all be better friends in the end!"

I could see Barlow was really exasperated; but he controlled his temper
and said:

"Very well, let us leave that. Would you be willing to join us in a
circular to try to counteract the effect of mail-order competition?"

"I'm kinder suspicious, anyhow," replied Stigler. "How do you mean?"

"Why," said Barlow, "we could, perhaps, have a folder printed, quoting
our prices against the mail-order prices, with a strong suggestion that
people should buy from us as long as we can do as well as anybody else
for them."

"Yer mean," said Stigler, "to just send that out as if from the three of


Stigler thought for a minute, and then said slowly: "And have everybody
in town think that we fellers was probably workin' together to boost up
prices? No, sir-ree, I think that's the most damfool suggestion I've
ever heard! K-ha," he snapped out his laugh again. "Just think of
anybody getting hold of a circular with three competitors' names on it!
Why, they'd naturally think at once that competitors don't work
together unless they're gettin' something out of it."

"We are getting something out of it," I broke in. "We are going to get
the mail-order business out of it!"

"Yer can't make me, and won't make the public, believe that. They'll
believe we're just puttin' our heads together to do away with
competition so's we can get fancy prices."

He stood up, and said, with a little boast in his manner:

"Stigler's allus been known for bein' a keen, cut-rate hardware man. By
the gods, he's goin' to stay it. I'm strong enough to run my business
without leanin' on you fellers, and I ain't goin' to let the public
think for one second that I ain't."

"Then good night to you, sir!" said Barlow, angrily. I was mad clear

Stigler shrugged his shoulders. "Yer think I'm easy, don't yer?" he
sneered, and went out.

When he had gone, Barlow put his hand on my shoulder.

"Dawson," he said, "Stigler has lived in this town for many years,
trading on the reputation of his father, who was a fine gentleman. But
he's been losing the better-class trade rapidly, and is only holding up
business by cutting prices right and left. That policy can't win in the

"For heaven's sake! Mr. Barlow," I cried, "why did you ask him here? If
there is one man I detest more than another, it's Stigler!"

"Because," he replied gravely, "if we are going to exercise
coöperation, it must be complete, and personalities must be sunk for the
greater issues. I like Stigler even less than you do, but that mustn't
prevent us giving him an opportunity to work with us."

"Well, he's refused, and the two of us can work together on these
plans," I said.

Then, to my utter amazement, Barlow shook his head, and said: "We can't
do it, Dawson."

"B-but," I stammered, "in the train you said you thought it was a good

"So I did, and I still think so, if we could have Stigler with us. But
don't you see," he said, "that, if we were to come out with an
advertisement under our joint names, Stigler would tell every one in the
town that either I had bought you out--remember that you worked for me
only a few weeks ago--or else that we had combined to drive him out of
business. And, as soon as you put a man in a position where people think
he's a martyr, they'll flock to help him. It seems to be a peculiarity
of human nature to want to fight for the under dog, and I think you've
seen enough of Stigler to know that he would use that weapon to the
fullest advantage."

"Well, can't we work together on the credit scheme?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "for, if we did that along the line suggested, Stigler
would tell people that we were telling our customers' business to each
other, and you can imagine the general feeling then. Stigler would urge
them to come to him, and tell them that he would keep their business
private, and such things as that."

I must have looked dejected, for Barlow laughed sympathetically, put
his arm around my shoulder, and said:

"Now I know you had your heart set on doing this, Dawson, but it's
really only a little matter."

"Little?" I said, remembering the hullabaloo at the convention when
mail-order competition was mentioned, as well as the question of

"Yes," he replied, "for we can help each other in a quiet way without
any definite plan. Now, if you've any credit customers about whom you
are in doubt, come in and see me and I'll tell you what I can of them."

"And you'll do the same, sir?"

"I surely will," said he.

And we shook hands and that was how it ended.

To think that the possibility of a real fight against the mail-order
houses, and the certainty of checking credit losses, should be knocked
in the head by one man who, because he happened to be a crook himself,
thought everybody else was!



The next evening, Jock McTavish and I had a long pow-wow over a plan to
check credits. It is always a good idea to talk over such matters with
an accountant, and Jock was _some_ accountant, in spite of having come
from "Doomfreeze" as he called it.

In the morning I took a form over to the printers with instructions to
have it printed on 4 × 6-in. cards. I had an old cabinet that just took
that size--and besides Jock said it was better than the 3 × 5-in. size.
He said, "Most card indices, run on a 3 × 5-in. card, are crowded. The
card is really too small except for such simple uses as an address
index. The result is that the small cards soon get so cluttered up with
notes and additions as to be difficult to read. Better use the 4 × 6-in.
size, and give yourself room to write all you want and still keep it in

Jock glared at me when he said that, for he considered that I was
careless in my bookkeeping just because I carried charges on scraps of
paper till evening and then entered them all at once.

We decided that, starting on the first of the next month, we would make
every customer wanting credit give us the following information, and
sign it.

This is a copy of the form:


Please open a charge account with ......................
M ......................................................
Lives at ................ Street .......................
In business as .........................................
At ...................... Street .......................
Works for ..............................................
Class of goods mostly used .............................
Maximum amount of credit desired .......................
Will pay bill on .......................................
The above particulars are correct and agreeable to me.
Date .................... Signed .......................

We would first get his full name and home address. Then, if he was in
business for himself, we would know that, and also where his business
was. If he worked for some one else, we'd know it. Then, if he was a
plumber, he must state what kind of goods he would most need, and so on.
This was my idea. Jock said that builders, carpenters, plumbers and such
like would object to that clause. He said they would think it was no
business of mine what they bought as long as they paid for it.

I believed, however, that if I had a number of customers likely to use a
lot of supplies of a certain kind, it would help me and them if I knew
it. I could then buy accordingly.

Further, if I found a man buying a lot of goods quite different from
what his card said he used, I'd know there was something wrong and could
at once look into it.

The next two items on the card were, of course, the crux of the whole
thing. We wanted to pin a man down to a definite credit limit, both as
regards time and amount.

With the customer's signature to that card I could easily stop a man's
credit if he exceeded his limit in either way.

Betty thought it was an excellent thing,--if I could get it started; and
Jock said it was a good plan,--if it worked. I showed a rough draft of
it to Barlow at lunch time, and he said it wouldn't work. So, between
the lot of 'em I got mighty little encouragement.

Still, perhaps it was best to act on my own judgment. If I was wrong I'd
know better next time.

Every credit customer who came into the store was to be passed over to
me, and I was going to tell him a little story like this:

"Mr. ----, I've only recently bought this business, and I'm not yet
acquainted with all my customers and their needs. Now I see we have an
account open with you, and I'm very glad to accommodate you. It will
help me to give you good service and to meet your wishes if you will
please give me the particulars of your needs."

Then I was going to ask him those questions, fill in the card myself as
he answered them and, passing it over to him, I'd ask him if it was all
correct. If he said "yes" I'd pass him my pen without a word--and I felt
sure he would sign it without a murmur. At least that was my guess.

One thing was certain, I simply had to cut down my credit business. I
was hard up, and owed more than I had in the bank. Of course the
accounts were good, but I could not pay my bills with somebody else's
unpaid account. The previous week's business had been $428.00, and
$204.00 of it had been charged!

I had a crowd of small accounts, people who had bought and promised to
come in "at the end of the week," or who had asked to have the goods
delivered and promised to pay the boy--and when the boy delivered, they
had said, "Tell Mr. Black I'll be in to-morrow and pay him. I haven't
the change now."

When, oh! when was "to-morrow"? Unless I got some ready cash soon I'd
have to ask some of my creditors to wait until "to-morrow."

The next day, while I was out for lunch, old Peter Bender, the
carpenter, came in for some more goods. He had bought $18.75 worth early
in the month; a little later he had bought $11.00 worth, and, while I
was at the convention, he had got another $8.50 worth of goods.

I had blamed Larsen for that last lot of $8.50, for I had said that
Peter was to pay up before getting more goods. However, it had got by
Larsen and I had said nothing. Peter had come in as soon as I had left
the store, and told Walter, the first assistant, that he was to tell me
that my bill would be paid "to-morrow." He had then said there were "a
few odds and ends" he wanted--and took $26.00 worth of tools with him.
That brought the total to $64.25.

I was really uneasy about it--I was more--I was worried, for Barlow had
told me that he would not sell him anything until he had paid a bill of
$2.65, while I had gone to $64.25!

Peter had "stuck" Simpson too, I remembered, for Peter had told me when
he bought the first lot of goods that Jim Simpson had accepted $10.30
in full settlement of over $60.00!

Betty was quite "snippy" that evening. She said she was worrying over
the way I managed the business. I fancied she had started to say
"mismanaged" it. We almost "got to words." However, I told her that
Fellows of the Flaxon Advertising Agency was writing a form letter for
me to send to the people who owed me small accounts. There was over
$300.00 worth of such accounts, none over $5.00.

Fellows, however, telephoned me that he could not get over till late the
following afternoon with the collection letter, so I decided to write it

When he arrived I showed it to him. I set it down here as a horrible
example of how not to do it. This is it:

     Dear Sir:--

     I notice that your account of ...... for goods
     purchased some time ago has not yet been paid.

     From this date on, no more credit will be allowed any
     one owing overdue accounts; furthermore, definite
     particulars of credit requirements must be supplied in

     As I am anxious to close up these overdue accounts at
     once, I must ask for your remittance in full by return

     Yours truly, ..................

When Fellows read that he laughed and said: "I don't think that hits the
mark at all. If any one were to pay you on the strength of that letter,
it would be with the determination never to do any more business with
you. You want to coax the money out of 'em. You want to try to put it in
such a way that they will pay you and feel glad about it. Do you think
any one would feel pleased at such an abrupt demand for payment? Now I
spent all last night and all the morning trying to--"

Here I broke in with "Does it take all that time to write a single
dunning letter?"

"For one letter, no; but for a form letter that is going to sixty or
seventy people, yes. It is really important that it will not offend any
one and yet 'bring home the bacon.' Here it is," and he passed me this:

     Dear Mr. ............:--

     The enclosed account is so small that I feel sure you
     will not object to paying it when next passing the

     May I respectfully add that it materially aids me to
     get these small accounts paid promptly and out of the

     Will you do your share toward helping me--to-day?

     Very truly yours, ........................

     P. S. Have a look at my new line of "hot weather
     electrics"--fans, grills, toasters, etc.--at the same

I took it over to a young stenographer who promised to typewrite them
for me as quickly as possible. I thought it was worth the little extra
cost to send these people real individual letters, each one signed by

Fellows offered to send me three more letters on collections. He advised
me to put in a regular "follow-up" system.

I was a little dubious, and told him so, of the wisdom of such a system
in a small town. "It's all right for San Francisco, or Chicago, or New
York," I said. "But here, where I know so many people, won't they think
I'm putting on side?"

"No," he said, "for you send a letter that is not a formal one by any
means. Follow-up systems can be just as successful in a small town as in
big cities, if you will see that the letter expresses your own
personality. A high-falutin', high-brow letter would be a joke, but a
human letter, written in the language you use, and that your customers
are used to, will win out every time."



When I totaled my sales for the month, I was somewhat gratified to find
that they were $2,280.00. The best month the store had had for a long
time, I fancied.

The only fly I could see in the ointment was that over $600.00 worth of
goods were charged during the month. I had considerably over a thousand
dollars on the books, and it seemed to me a lot to have in two months.
However, the plan which I put into force the first of the month had
certainly cut down charge accounts.

Most fellows had fallen in line with the new plan of controlling
credits, and I felt sure it would work out splendidly, although one old
chap, Mr. Dawborn, had felt insulted (he owed me $18.75--and _still_
owes it, by the way) and said he refused to be card-indexed and checked
up like a criminal being put through the third degree. He worked himself
into a fine fit of fury, and bounced out of the store, saying that he
would give Stigler all his trade in future.

I was so "rattled" that I forgot to ask him to pay his account before
doing so!

The incident reminded me of something that Larsen had told me about
Stigler. He said that Stigler was talking about me and saying that I was
a "smarty" and that it was about time somebody "slapped my wrist."
Stigler claimed that he would run me off my feet by Christmas.

I remember wishing his store was not so near. I could see it from the
front of mine. I had noticed that, whenever he and I happened to meet he
would say, "Howdy" in such a contemptuous manner that I felt like
knocking his block off! Excuse my free and easy language, but I sure did
hate that man!

I have interrupted my story just when I was recording the standing of my
business at the first of the third month as nearly as I could estimate

Cash in bank, $1,920.00.

Accounts owing to me, $1,265.00.

Purchases for previous month, $4,220.00.

Bills I owed, $3,820.00.

I decided I must get hold of Jock McTavish, for there was something
wrong in it all. I had had to get that stock, but I did not have enough
in cash and accounts owing to me to pay all my trade bills.

However, I had until the 10th, and if I had a good week I would be
pretty nearly all right; still I did feel a bit uncomfortable about
owing so much more than I could pay right away, even though I had got a
fine new stock of gardening tools, and a new line of carpenter and
household tools, besides a new line in aluminum ware.

I understood that Stigler was mad because I had opened up in the
carpenter tool line so much more than my predecessor had.

Jock had told me that I ought to reduce my stock and increase my sales.
I had increased my sales, but increased my stock also. Still, I had
saved quite a lot in price by buying in large quantities, and, if the
worst came to the worst, I could pay everybody but the Boston jobbers.

Bates & Hotchkin, to whom I owed nearly $2,000.00, had been very decent
to me. They had sent their man to help me take stock and never charged
me a cent. I had given them the bulk of my general business, and they
had looked after me in great shape. I felt that they would give me an
extra thirty-days credit if I asked for it, and I certainly would sooner
ask them than any one else.

I studied the figures that evening until Betty came in and put her dear
hands on my forehead and said, "How hot your head is, boy dear--are you
worrying over anything in particular?" "No," I said with a smile.
"Well," she replied, "it is 12:30 and quite time you were getting some
beauty sleep."

I said I was not worried, but I didn't like the size of my liabilities.
I began to think I had been a fool in buying so heavily.

The next morning I had a bit of excitement, with the result that I paid
Myricks his money and let him go.

I had decided to adhere to the division of expenses that Jock had worked
out, and that meant reducing the force. Accordingly, I had told Myricks
that he could stay a few weeks until he got another job, and I meant it,
but that morning, when I caught him in the basement tossing lamp
chimneys into the fixtures so carelessly that a number of them were
broken, I got mad and told him he was an ungrateful scamp, and that I
thought he was deliberately destroying my property. He turned around and
said I had no cause to say he was a crook, and that, even if I was his
boss, he had friends who would help him to protect his reputation!

Then I saw red, and plugged him under the jaw! Next I called him
upstairs, gave him a week's money, and let him go.

His parting remark was, "Everybody's getting wise to you; I'm glad to be
through before the smash comes. Mr. Stigler told me what would happen
and I can get a job there now--and I'm going to him right away!"

It didn't scare me any--it merely aroused my fighting blood. There was
one good lesson I learned that day, though, and that was, "Never to talk
to an employee while in a temper." I felt that I had lowered my dignity
by so doing; and, even though I had done him no harm, I certainly had
not done myself any good.

I didn't like what he had said about Stigler, but if he thought it
worried me he was mistaken. If Stigler was spoiling for a fight I'd give
him one! . . .

I had begun to think that Larsen was a pretty shrewd fellow; certainly
when he did thaw enough to make a criticism it was generally worth
listening to.

One day, Jerry Teller, a rather fussy carpenter who did excellent work,
and who was always wanted when any extra fine work was desired, came in
with a complaint that a back saw he had bought a week or so before was
not perfect. I looked it over carefully, but couldn't see a thing the
matter with it until Jerry pointed out a crack in the handle from the
rivet to the back. It was such a trifling thing that I did not feel
inclined to change it, besides, as I told him, how did I know it hadn't
cracked since he had had it? He swore up and down that it was like that
when he bought it, for he was too careful of his tools to damage them.
He demanded a new saw or his money back.

I told him the saw had become second-hand goods and that I didn't deal
in second-hand goods. We had a lot of talk back and forth, but I was
doing some tall thinking and finally decided that it was better to give
him a new saw than to let him feel dissatisfied, so, somewhat against my
will, I finally gave him a new saw. But it didn't seem to please him,
for he left the store still grumbling about the way I tried to "put it
over him."

Larsen had been watching the whole incident, so, after Jerry left the
store I turned to Larsen and said, "There's no satisfying some people,

"You no try to satisfy him much, eh, boss?" he replied.

"What do you mean?" said I.

"Say I come to the store. You kicked up a fuss. Then you change the saw.
I don't feel pleased. Yet you give me a new saw," he answered.

And then I saw the light! Great guns, what a fool I was! I didn't seem
to know the first thing about business. Ever since I got the store my
life seemed to have been a series of doing things wrong. And it took
Larsen to show me a mistake!

I turned to him and said, "Thank you, Larsen; you are right; I
appreciate your frankness." Then I held out my hand to him, which he
shook awkwardly, and said, "That's all right, boss; I am still
learning; you are still learning--thank you."

I was beginning to like Larsen!

One thing I then and there resolved to do was this: If any one came in
with a complaint of any kind, I was going to let him have his say and
get it off his chest. Then, instead of arguing with him as to what I
should do, I would turn around and say: "I am very sorry you are not
quite satisfied with that article, for I can't afford to have any one
leave this store feeling dissatisfied. Now, if you will tell me just
what you want me to do to satisfy you, I'll do it." Then, whatever he
said, even if it meant a direct loss to me, I'd do what he wanted with a
smile. I'd not appear suspicious of him, but treat him in such a way
that he'd feel pleased.



My sales for the next two weeks fell to an average of $328.00--but,
thank goodness, less than $50.00 of the whole were charge accounts!

The plan of making people state how much credit they wanted seemed to be
working out well. The deadbeats flew up in the air and said they
wouldn't do business with any one that wanted their pedigree before
allowing them to buy goods, but the worthwhile ones saw the
reasonableness of the request and fell in line with it.

I believed that, while my sales were down 25 per cent., I would be
better off in the end, for what I had left I believed was real business.
That is, I would be better off if I could only stick it out.

Soon after the first of the month I paid off all my creditors except
Bates & Hotchkin, the Boston jobbing house with which I did the bulk of
my business. I wrote them a letter saying that I had overbought, and
told them that, as they were the largest creditor, I had paid the others
and would send them a check as soon as I could. They had always been so
decent I didn't expect any trouble at all, and what was my surprise the
next day to have a Mr. Peck call on me and tell me that he was the
credit man for Bates & Hotchkin!

"Glad to see you," I said, although mentally I was not at all glad to
see him. I had a feeling as if dicky birds were walking up and down my
spine. "What can I do for you?"

For reply he handed me a statement of their account, the amount of which
was $1,079.00.

"Oh," said I, "I wrote you about this yesterday."

"I know," said Peck calmly. "I'm the answer to your letter. I have come
for a check."

"But I told you," I replied, rather irritably, "that I couldn't give it
to you just now, and that you would have to wait a little!"

"Mr. Black," he returned, "will you tell me if there is any reason why
we should wait for our money when you pay every one else?" His voice
retained its even tone.

"Yes, I will," I replied, getting hot, "because you are getting the bulk
of my business, and, as I am doing as much as I can for you, you have
got to do as much as you can for me!"

"Suppose I should tell you, Mr. Black," he said, "that we gave you
credit, in the first place, merely because Mr. Barlow spoke so well of
you. We certainly didn't give it to you on the reputation of the store
you bought."

I winced at this.

"Remember," he continued, "that Simpson deceived us the same as he did
everybody else, so that the business, as such, doesn't justify any
credit, does it?"

I turned around sharply, and said:

"I am not asking you to give credit to the business. I am asking you to
give credit to me, and--"

"And all you can show us, by way of credit rating, is the fact that
your old employer speaks well of you!"

"Well," I returned, thoroughly vexed, "the long and short of it is that
I can't pay you just now, and you have just got to wait for your money!
But let me tell you this--it's the last red penny of my money you'll
ever get!"

Still Mr. Peck replied with his calm demeanor:

"Under those circumstances, Mr. Black, can you give me any reason why we
should wait for our money? If you were in my place, wouldn't you be
inclined to force collection?"

Before I could reply, he continued:

"I have come down here, Mr. Black, to try to help you, and perhaps I
can, but you have got to realize first of all that you haven't treated
us fairly."

I was about to protest against this, when he put up his hand and said:

"Wait a minute, Mr. Black. You can't see it in your present frame of
mind, and you probably think we are very hard to come down on you like
this, when you have been in business only such a short time. That is the
reason we take this stand. Had you been in business for some years we
should have known you inside and out, and would have known just what to
do. Now, if your credit is really good in the town, and you have
anything back of you, you can borrow the money and give me my check
before I leave town."

"Great guns, man," I cried, "to whom do you think I can go to borrow
that amount!"

"Why," said he, "haven't you got a bank account here?"

"Yes," said I, "but they won't lend me any money!"

Mr. Peck's face seemed suddenly to harden, and, putting his fingers on
the desk, he said:

"Mr. Black, we are simply wasting time. What do you think a bank's for?
A bank isn't a mere safe deposit for money! It's a bank's business to
lend money! Better go and see your bank now. I'll be back in two hours!"

Without another word he turned and left the store.

At that I completely lost my temper.

"I'll be damned if I will!" I cried to Larsen, who was standing by.
"Those people can wait for their money, and you can just bet that I'm
through doing business with them! They're not the only jobbers in the
world. Dirty, low-down trick, I call it!"

I was much surprised when Larsen replied:

"You paid all other fellers, yes? You not pay him. You get mad with your
debtors when they don't pay you? Doesn't the same sauce suit all birds?"
(Larsen got his maxim a bit twisted, but I knew what he meant, all
right.) "If I might suggest, I would go down to bank and talk with them.
You won't be worse off, perhaps better."

The more I saw of Larsen the more respect I had for his judgment, and I
believed I had done quite right when at the beginning of the month I had
frankly talked over my position with him. We had planned to talk over a
scheme of profit-sharing with the help, but there had been so many
things happening that we had had to defer it for a time.

Well, I went and had a talk with Blickens, the president of the bank. He
shook hands very cordially with me, but, when I told him what my errand
was, the jovial manner seemed to fall away from him, and he became
reserved and grave. Mighty suspicious, I thought.

"It's no disgrace to want to borrow money, Mr. Black," said he, "if you
have your business in such shape that it will justify a loan."

I thought I read the suspicion in his voice that I was running the
business to the wall. However, I told him fully just how things stood,
showed my sales slips, amount of stock on hand, amounts owing, and all
that, which I had brought with me at Larsen's suggestion. He looked over
the figures very carefully. Then he said:

"How much do you want?"

"Fifteen hundred dollars," I replied, rather timidly.

"You owe those jobbers only $1,079.00 that is actually overdue," he
replied, "and that's really the only pressing debt you have. Let's
see--you have now $328.00 balance to your credit in the bank. A thousand
dollars is all you need. Now, I'll let you have that much. You can then
pay off those jobbers, and still have a balance of about $250.00 on your
account. You should not let it get below that figure. Your stock is far
too heavy for your turn-over, and I think the best thing you can do is
to find some way of turning your surplus stock into cash, and you must
absolutely cease giving wild credit."

"I've done that already," I said, and told him in detail what I had

"That's excellent," he replied, "and I'm glad to know that you have put
that into force. You must, however, reduce your stock. Much better for
you to lose a little business for the next few months, and get yourself
on a sound financial basis, than to be skating, as you are, on thin

He looked over my list of accounts that were owing to me, and, putting a
mark against a number of them, he said:

"Those people are tricksters. You'll only waste your time trying to get
anything from them."

Great Scott! And I had thought, when I was working for Barlow, that I
could run his business as well as he could! Mr. Barlow, I then and there
went on record as saying that you were a bigger man than I was, and that
I took my hat off to you! I wonder if all employees have the same
all-fired conceit in regard to their abilities that I had had? If they
have, I advise them to try running a store for a little while! It isn't
enough just to be a business man--you have got to be an expert on
mechanics, a diplomat, a financier, a master salesman, an accountant, a
lawyer, an advertising man--whew! if I had known of the difficulties of
running a store I think I would have hesitated a long while before
assuming the burden!

Well, the loan was fixed up and I went back to the store, and in a
little while Mr. Peck came back. I gave him his check, saying rather

"That cleans the account up to date, Mr. Peck."

"Yes," he responded. "And now your credit is as good with us as it was

I still looked unresponsive, and then he took me by the arm, and brought
me to the rear of the store.

"Listen, young man," he said--his manner was very kindly. "If you ever
really need money, you will find we will be quite willing to help you in
reason; but you really didn't need it this time, you know, and I wanted
to give you a lesson in thrift and financing, and to impress it
seriously on your mind.

"Always make a point of discounting your bills, even if you have to
borrow money from the bank to do it. Let me illustrate what this will
save you. Suppose that you can take a two per cent. discount by paying a
bill in ten days. Now suppose you allow the bill to run to thirty days.
You lose that two per cent. for an accommodation of twenty days. That is
at the rate of thirty-six per cent. a year. You can borrow money from
the bank at the rate of six per cent. a year, and make so much clear
saving. You can figure it out this way, if you like. Your purchases are,
let us suppose, about $12,000.00 a year, or $1,000.00 a month. I know
they are more than that, but those figures will serve to illustrate my
point. On your monthly purchase of $1,000.00 you lose two per cent., or
$20.00, by taking a full month instead of paying it in ten days. If you
borrow that $1,000.00 from the bank for the twenty days necessary it
costs you only $3.33, so that you make $16.67 a month, which amounts
to"--he figured it out--"to $200.00 a year!"

That was surely a new light on finance to me!

"Now," he went on, "it seems to me that your business should be put in
such shape that you can take your discounts without even the necessity
of borrowing, and you can save the interest. Here you are with sales of
about $25,000.00 a year and a stock costing you around $8,000.00 or
$9,000.00. Deducting the gross profit from your sales, which amounts to
about thirty-three and one-third per cent., it leaves $16,667.00, which
means that you are turning over your stock only about twice a year. You
should work this up to three and one-half times a year."

This question of turn-over seemed to me to be a most important one,
judging from the way every one I talked with hammered on it. I realized
then that Mr. Peck had done me a good turn, and I felt grateful.

"Do you think it is possible, Mr. Peck," I said, "for me to turn my
stock over three and one-half times a year?"

"Why, yes," he said. "I know many hardware stores that turn their stock
over more times than that. Reduce your stock, eliminate the slow-selling
lines, buy carefully for the next few months, and you will have no
difficulty in taking your discounts. Besides the saving you will make,
you will be building up a reputation as a trustworthy man--and that's a
decidedly helpful thing for a retail merchant."

As he turned to leave I held out my hand and said, with the best grace I

"I reckon I made a bit of a fool of myself, Mr. Peck. I want to thank
you for your help to me."

His handclasp as he said good-by was a good, hearty one, and I felt I
had a real friend in that credit manager.



I had thought out a novel way to fight the mail-order competition. It
had come to me from an article I had read in a magazine about how a
druggist in a small town in the Middle West had practically eliminated
mail-order competition--at least temporarily--in his town. I decided
immediately to try it. Betty says I am always too impetuous. When I
reviewed what happened, I was uncertain whether I had done myself good
or harm; but one thing was certain--I surely did get a lot of publicity!

After I had read that article in the magazine, I said to myself: "Now,
that's reasonable. If people haven't got a mail-order catalog, they
won't buy from the mail-order house. Why didn't I think of that before?
If I get this mail-order catalog, I take away from them the thing that
makes it easy for them to buy."

In the lower corner of the ad I had a picture and description of the
talking machine, set off by a border.

Then I had two men march about the town with boards across their
shoulders, on which were painted,


This is the ad I put in both our papers:


     If so, take a few chances on winning a phonograph.
     These chances are free.

     Bring your mail-order catalogs to us. In return for
     each catalog you will receive a numbered coupon.

     A drawing will take place in our window next Monday at
     7:30 p. m., when one of the coupons will be drawn by a
     blindfolded person from a tub in which all the coupons
     will be placed.

     The number of the coupon drawn will be the winning
     number, and the holder of it will receive the talking
     machine absolutely free.

     The machine may be seen in our window, or at the
     Farmdale Furniture Store.

I had only a few days between the announcement of the contest and the
time for the drawing, because I thought, if the time were longer, people
would write to the mail-order houses for catalogs so as to enter them in
the contest.

I didn't know just what the effect would be, but I did know there was a
lot of money going out of the town to the mail-order houses.

The avalanche started the next morning. Before we opened the store there
was a line of youngsters outside, each carrying from one to six
catalogs. Great big fellows, they were, many of them.

As they came into the store, we passed out coupons, each one numbered
separately. A boy bringing in two catalogs got two coupons, and so on.
All the week we had catalogs rolling in. Some of them were ten years
old. I didn't know there were so many mail-order houses. By the looks
of many of the catalogs they had been frequently used.

One funny incident occurred. Mrs. Robinson, whom everybody swore was the
original woman with the serpent's tongue--she could never see good in
anything or anybody--came into the store in high indignation, saying
that her little boy, Wallace, had, without her permission, collected her
four mail-order catalogs and had turned them into the store for coupons,
and she demanded that I give the catalogs back.

I explained to her that I didn't know which catalogs were hers. She
replied that I had catalogs from all the mail-order concerns, and I must
give her one of this and one of that and one of another, or otherwise
she would make trouble for me!

I had had so many people talking big to me lately that I was getting up
a fighting spirit. I turned around to her and said:

"I'm sorry I can't comply with your request. If you have anything else
to say, please say it. If not, good-by!"

Gee whiz! what that woman did say! Anyway, she left the store after a
while, and didn't get her catalogs. She had never spent a penny with me,
and never would. She was a relation of Stigler's, and I had a "hunch"
that he had put her up to it.

Stigler had been telling all around town that I was afraid of mail-order
competition because my prices were higher, and that that was why I was
collecting the catalogs. He said he didn't care how many catalogs people
had, he could hold his own with competition.

I met Barlow one lunch time and he came over and put his hand on my
shoulder, saying:

"You put the cat among the pigeons this time, didn't you?"

"Why?" I replied.

"Well, everybody is talking about your buying up mail-order catalogs."

"I am not buying them up."

"Same thing," he grinned. "You are surely getting a lot of publicity
from it, though. Some people think it's a mighty clever trick, others
think it's a mean trick, some others think you are scared. Well, they
are talking about you, at any rate. Good luck to you! Go carefully,

Well, we had mail-order catalogs stacked up in every corner. I arranged
with a junkman to buy them at quite a fair price, and, to my utter
surprise, I got enough money from the sale of those catalogs to pay for
the cost of the machine and a little bit over towards the advertising!

I was mighty glad I had arranged with the furniture store to display the
machine, for Martin, the proprietor, said he had crowds of people
looking at it. There was a sign on it saying, "This machine will be
given free by Dawson Black to the person drawing the winning coupon in
the mail-order catalog contest."

Stigler said that the whole thing was illegal, and came under the
gambling law, but nothing was done about it, and I knew that, if it was
illegal, Stigler would have found some way of getting at me on it.

One thing was sure--the town did not have many mail-order catalogs in
it after the contest. I had a big bunch of valuable advertising from
it--at least, I thought it was valuable.

For some time Stigler had been telling around town what he was going to
do to me. I had heard he had made the remark that he was going to cut
the heart out of me, and he surely tried to, for, whenever I had
anything in my window or advertised in the papers, he immediately turned
around and sold the same article at a lower price. Whenever I had found
him doing this, I had immediately cut down below him, and many things I
had to sell below cost. But I didn't see any help for it--I couldn't let
him get ahead of me on prices like that. I felt that I had to follow his
lead wherever he went, and trust to making my profit out of other
things. But it surely was heartbreaking to have a fellow like that
bucking me.

One day, Rob Sirle, the editor of _Hardware Times_ called on me. He said
he had heard about my stunt for beating the mail-order people and he
wanted to know about it.

I told him all about it, but somehow he didn't seem very much impressed.
He didn't say much about it, but I remembered that some one had remarked
to me at the convention that he never spoke about anything unless he
could boost it.

I told him about Stigler and the price-cutting contest that was then on
between us.

"I'll tell you what you want to do to beat that," said he. "You put
goods in your window to-morrow morning and mark them at exact invoice
price. Wait until friend Stigler has put the same goods in his window
at less than cost, and then as soon as he has done it, remove your price
tickets. If any one comes in to buy them, sell them only at regular
price, except, of course, if they come in while the cut price is marked
on them. You can well afford to let Stigler sell all the goods he wants
at below cost price, because the more he sells the more quickly he will
eliminate himself as a competitor.

"Every day you can put a new line in the window. I don't think it will
be very long before he gives up the foolish task of cutting his own
throat. I always compare the price-cutter," he said musingly, "with a
hog which cuts its own throat as it swims. That is just what the
indiscriminate price-cutter does. He cuts his own throat first. I never
saw a price-cutter yet who had a real, solid business. People are wise
these days, you know. You offer anything at less than cost price and
people flock to buy it; but it doesn't mean that they are necessarily
going to buy other goods at the same time. No, sir! They'll buy the
cut-price goods from the cut-price store, but they'll buy the regular
goods at a regular price from the store which offers them courteous
service in place of cut-price chicanery!"

I at once decided to follow his advice.

I happened to mention to him that I went to Boston quite often. He asked
me if I knew Barker, the hardware man there. "Quite a big man in the
hardware trade," said he. "You ought to meet him. Here," and he wrote me
a card of introduction, "next time you go to Boston, drop in and see
him. If you ever get into any difficulty he's just the man to help you."

And then, having in the most matter-of-fact manner given me an
introduction to one of the biggest live wires in the trade, he turned
around and sauntered out of the store.



Isn't it astonishing how easy it is to do things wrong!

A salesman came in one morning from the Cincinnati Pencil Sharpener
Company to offer me the local agency for the firm's pencil pointers. He
walked into the store with what I said to myself was a silly grin, but
Larsen, when we were talking the matter over afterward, said he looked a
jolly, good-natured fellow, so perhaps it was just my nerves twisting
things around.

I was just going over my stock of butt hinges when he came in. I was
feeling disappointed because our stock was lower than I had thought it
was, since I was getting so that I positively hated to buy! Well, I
looked up at him and snapped:

"What do you want?"

"Good afternoon, Mr. Black," he replied. "I represent the Cincinnati
Pencil Sharpener Company, and I want--"

Here I broke in testily:

"I'm too busy now. Besides, we're not in the stationery line. You want
to go to a stationer with that thing. . . . Well," I said angrily, as he
made no attempt to go, "if there is anything else you want to say,
please say it quickly; if not, you will have to excuse me, because I am
really too busy to waste time with drummers to-day."

"Excuse me, Mr. Black," he returned a little hotly, "I am not a
drummer--I am a salesman. I came to talk with you about giving you a
special agency, but it is evident that in your present frame of mind I
would only be wasting my time. I will come back later."

With that he walked out of the store.

I certainly felt mad! I could have chewed ten-penny nails!

"Did you ever hear such impudence?" I cried to Larsen.

Larsen looked up with that queer little expression on his face that I
had come to recognize as preceding something that disagreed with me, and

"Impudence by who, Boss?"

"By him, of course! I'm the Boss here, and, if there is any kow-towing
to be done, he's the fellow to do it!"

Larsen didn't say another word, but shook his head.

"Larsen," said I testily, "you seem to take delight in pointing out
flaws in my management!"

Again I saw that queer expression come into his face.

"_Management_," I cried, "not mismanagement! What was wrong with what I
did just now?"

Larsen did sometimes make me mad, but I usually found on thinking things
over that he was very logical in his reasoning. I had learned a lot from
him and I had come to depend on him a good deal, and he had got me so
that he was quite free with me.

He walked toward me, leaned against a counter, and said:

"Boss, drummers like him makes money. More money than most retailers.
From money angle he is as good as people he sells to. He must know goods
to sell them. In that way he is equal to the merchant. He travels over
the country and he gets lots of ideas--and all that. He generally has
good schooling and comes from good home. He is, in how he lives and who
he knows, equal of his customers. Then, again, store keepers would be in
a h----"

"Tut, tut!" I said.

"--In a deuce of a mess if traveling salesmen did not call. You hear
about new stuff from drummers. Suppose you get mad and they won't call?
You are real loser. Simpson used to be that way. You know, Boss, I used
to hear some of them salesmen damn him like they meant it. One feller
came here with agency for Stamford saws. Now, you know, Boss, Stamford
saws is one of best agencies Barlow has. Simpson could have got it. I
don't know why he come to Simpson first, because Barlow is--was--leading
hardware man in town."

I smiled at the implied compliment.

"Well, in he come here, and Simpson treat him about like--well, he treat
him like a dog. You know what that feller did?"

"No," I replied curiously, "what did he do?"

"He put his grip on the floor, walked around the counter, took hold of
Simpson's nose and gave it one h----" I held up my finger warningly--"a
deuce of a pull!"

My hand unconsciously went to my nose, and I saw a twinkle come into
Larsen's eyes as he noticed the movement.

"Well, that feller, he went right over to Barlow. Barlow knew a good
thing when he saw it. He tied up that agency."

"Good Heavens," I said, "it never dawned on me that any traveling
salesman wouldn't be only too tickled to do business with anybody he

"I tell you, Boss," said Larsen, "I have been in retail business now,
let's see--forty years. The more I see of drummers the better they seem.
If I were boss of a store I'd never turn a salesman down cold. If I
couldn't buy I would say no, like I was sorry. Some day that feller
would have a real bargain. Would he offer it to the feller who balls him
out? No, sir-ree! He tip off to the feller who treated him white.

"Just think, Boss," he continued, "going around from town after town.
Lot of places he sleep at just like what a bum has. Lots of folks give
him cold turn-down. When he gets decent treatment from a merchant, he
look upon it as a--what do you call the place in the sand where they
have trees and water?"

"An oasis in the desert?"

"Yes, that's it, Boss. An oasis in the desert."

"Larsen, you old vagabond, I believe you're right; and if that pencil
sharpener fellow doesn't give his agency to Barlow"--I grinned as I said
this--"I'll--I'll turn him down with a smile!"

"That's all right, Boss; but how you know you want to turn him down?"

"Oh, we don't want to handle those things. We're not in the stationery
business. That's a stationer's line!"

"But why?" persisted Larsen.

"Why? Because stationers sell pencils!"

"Y-yes, y-yes," said Larsen with a drawl, "and so do 5 and 10-cent
stores--and department stores--and drygood stores--and drug stores. Why
not hardware stores? Do you know, Boss, I think hardware people sleepy
on the switch. We sell razors, and then let the fellers go to the drug
store to buy powder an' soap an' brushes. We got a few brushes, but seem
scared to show 'em. What happens? The druggist sells 'em the powder and
then they give us a devil"--again I put up my hand, I was trying to
break Larsen of swearing--"well, they give us a run for our money
because they sell razors. I was up to New York last year, and I saw a
drug store that had a picture frame department, and a line of toys, and
brass and copper novelties--everything what we ought to sell and what
was ours till we let these other stores swipe it from us."

Here Larsen stopped for breath. This was a lot for him to say at one
time, but he was "wound up" evidently for he resumed.

"Look at automobiles! If we fellers had been alive, we would not have
let them specialty places crop up all over the place. Hardware stores
oughter have the garage. We oughter have the profits of automobile
accessories. Some fellers are getting alive to the job, but some still
say we oughten ter butt into somebody else's line!" He sneered as he
said this.

"If owned a hardware store I would sell anything I could get a profit
on. I'd put in a line of pastry if I thought I could get away with it!"

"Your forty-five years in the hardware trade hasn't got you into a rut
then, Larsen?" I said with a smile.

"You bet your life, nix, Boss! You are the first man that let me speak
right out to him, and you know I don't mean to be--to be--you know what
I mean--bossy like. But it gets my goat how hardware folks has let good
things get away from them!"

I had sometimes wondered why Larsen, with all his experience and
knowledge, and many good ideas that I had found him to have, hadn't got
farther ahead in the world. I had decided that it was perhaps because he
was lacking in a certain independence of spirit--and while he spoke
freely to me, and wasn't afraid to correct me, it was more because I was
young and inexperienced compared with him, and because I had got so I
didn't take offense at it. Perhaps under an older and sterner boss he
would have been rather afraid to give expression to his views. However,
he certainly was valuable to me.

The conversation ended there, because the salesman from the Cincinnati
Pencil Sharpener Company came in again. I didn't wait for him to say
anything, but beckoned to him, and said:

"I can give you a little time now. I was really busy before, and I am
afraid I spoke a little more sharply than I meant to."

"That's all right, Mr. Black," he replied. "I think I owe you an apology
for losing my temper. A man in my position can't afford to lose his
temper. I'll tell you now my proposition. Mr. Sirle of _Hardware Times_
told me you were a coming man in the business and suggested I show you
this line."

"Well," I replied hesitatingly, "it seems to me that a pencil sharpener
is not just the thing for a hardware man to sell."

"Mr. Black," he responded, "I am not going to try to persuade you what a
hardware store should or should not sell; but I want to show you, with
your permission, what you can make by handling this line. I have spent
most of the day around here calling on some of the residents and other
people. I have taken orders for eighteen of these pencil sharpeners. I
will turn these orders over to you and you can deliver them and make the
profit on them."

He passed me over eighteen orders for the dollar Cincinnati Pencil
Sharpener, "to be delivered by the local hardware store."

"These sharpeners," he continued, "cost you 69¢ each f. o. b.
Cincinnati. We will turn these orders over to you on the condition that
you buy an additional eighteen. That is three dozen in all. In addition
to this, if you wish to use this 'ad' in your local paper"--and here he
showed me a very attractive advertisement for the pencil
sharpener--"which will cost $4.00 an issue in both your papers--"

"How do you know?" I broke in quickly.

"Because we found out before we came here.--We will pay half the cost of
three insertions. You notice the 'ad.' is already prepared, except for
filling in your name. We don't provide electrotypes because, if we did,
your local paper might not have the type to harmonize with the rest of
the 'ad.,' so that it would look like a regular filled-in affair; but
by having the paper use the nearest type to this that they have, the
advertisement has the stamp of your own individuality."

That was a pretty good thought, it seemed to me.

Well, the upshot of it was that I bought the three dozen and agreed to
run the advertisement on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday following the
arrival of the sharpeners.

I shook hands with him as he left the store, and couldn't help thinking
that my foolish haste and rudeness might have lost me what I was
convinced would be a valuable agency to me.

As he left the store--Mr. Downs was his name--he gave me a little
booklet, which he said might refresh my memory on a few points which I
was doubtless familiar with. The booklet was entitled "A few reminders
on selling methods for Cincinnati Pencil Sharpeners." It outlined
methods of approaching schools, private houses, business offices, etc.,
giving samples of form letters and a whole lot of useful selling

It seemed to me on looking it over that no one could help buying those
pencil sharpeners!

It never occurred to me, until after he had left the store, to ask about
the quality of the sharpener and I wondered why, and then I realized
that I had bought the pencil sharpeners, not because of their quality,
but because of the sales plan which had already been worked out for me.

If other concerns, who sent salesmen to see me, had presented worked-out
plans like these they would have had more business from me. I don't know
how it was, but I seemed to be rushed all the time with so many little
things that I hadn't had the time to try to think out plans and ideas
for selling; and the fact that it was easy for me to go ahead to sell
these pencil sharpeners was the main thing that induced me to buy them.

Larsen was unquestionably pleased, and the man had hardly gone out of
the store when he said:

"Couldn't one of our fellers go to folks and sell some? . . . And
couldn't we sell pencils, . . . and while we are about it--"

"For heaven's sake, Larsen," I cried, "you're trying to run me off my

The thought of sending salesmen out to get business for a retail store
had never occurred to me, although on thinking it over it seemed so
reasonable that I decided to think it over some more, and maybe I would
send one of the boys out to see if he could not drum up some business on
those pencil sharpeners, and perhaps some other things.



Larsen was a bully good fellow, but I found that in one way he was
hurting the help, as his habit of swearing seemed to have been caught by
the other fellows in the store.

Somewhat with fear and trembling I got the force all together one night
and gave them a little talk on business conduct. Goodness knows I felt
quite incompetent to speak about it, but I felt that it was necessary,
particularly as I had noticed Jones and Wilkes swearing badly, and even
doing it when there were customers in the store. From the language they
used, it was evident that Larsen was the source of inspiration. I spoke
to them somewhat like this:

"It's only a few weeks ago, fellows, since I was a clerk at Barlow's, so
I know how you fellows feel and think, because I thought very much like
you do now. You know there are certain things which a boss realizes
which an employee doesn't. I really want you fellows to know that I want
to help you in any way I can."

Larsen chipped in here, saying:

"I know he does that!"

I silenced him, however, and went on:

"You fellows represent this store when you are in it and out of it. The
way you conduct yourself is to the public the way this store conducts
itself. For instance, if I were to get drunk nights, that would reflect
on the store, wouldn't it?"

They nodded in agreement.

"Now, if I were to be using bad language all the time, that would
reflect on the store also, wouldn't it?"

Again they nodded yes, but not with the same emphasis as before.

"There's one thing," I continued, "that we all have to learn to stop. It
is so easy to slip into bad language that we use it before we realize
it; but it is a bad habit and one that, I am sure, does hurt the
standing of the business. So I am going to ask you fellows, for one
thing, to stop using bad language in and out of the store. I'll go
further, and say I will not allow it in the store at all; and if I find
any one swearing, either about something or at something, I shall put a
black mark against his name.

"Now," I continued, and here I brought out a little tin box, "I have put
a dollar in this box to start a fund. At Christmas any money that is in
this box we will turn over to the Christmas Tree Fund run by _The
Enterprise_ every year. If any of you fellows catch me swearing, tell
me, and I'll put a quarter in the box. If any of you other fellows are
caught swearing I think you ought to put something in the box--if it is
only a dime or a nickel, even. You understand," I said, "that there is
nothing compulsory about this, but it should be a bit of good fun to
keep check on each other in that way, and if any one of us forgets
himself and lets loose some language that isn't proper English, he may
console himself with knowing that his flow of language may mean a new
doll for some poor kiddie. Is that a go?" I asked.

Larsen chirped right up and said:

"You bet it is! It's one good h---- of a--" he grinned sheepishly, put
his hand in his pocket, and dropped a quarter in the box, while a howl
of laughter went up from the other fellows.

That one laugh seemed to break the ice, and for the first time we all
seemed to have a good understanding of each other. They all pledged
themselves to a fine of a dime every time they swore.

"There is one other thing I am going to say at this time," I continued,
when that question had been settled, "and that is that every Monday
evening I am going to have a general meeting of all men who have done
their duty during the week. It will last for three-quarters of an hour
only, and I shall look upon it as a kind of directors' meeting.

"You know," I said, "that directors get paid for every meeting they
attend. Now, I am going to pay all you fellows half a dollar for
attending this directors' meeting every Monday.

"You will be at liberty to say anything you wish. You can roast the
store policy, or me, or any one of us here, and whatever takes place at
this meeting will be considered merely as an outside affair and nothing
to affect our relationship in the business. In other words, you have a
free hand to go as far as you like in that meeting and know that there
will be no kick from me on it.

"Next Monday we'll all get together and talk things over generally. If
any of you have any suggestions to make, shoot them along next Monday. A
week from Monday, however, we'll name one definite thing for discussion
among ourselves."

I gave the boys a cigar each and the meeting adjourned.

I felt that that night's work was well worth while, for I soon noticed a
little different attitude in the men. Eighty cents, however, went the
first day into our "swear box." I began to wonder whether their dimes or
whether their bad language would hold out the longest.

The idea seemed pretty simple, after it had been tried, and found to be
a success, but it wasn't such a simple thing for me to think up. It had
started when Betty read in a paper about how the inmates of a prison
were given a voice in the running of it, and that had set me thinking
about giving the employees a hand in running the business, and the plan
grew out of that. I had been convinced from the start that it would work
out well.

A customer had come into the store one day and asked for an 8-in.
aluminum saucepan. Jones had waited on her, and had replied:

"Sorry, madam, but we are out of that size."

The customer had turned and left, and I had watched her make a bee line
for Stigler's. Then and there I began to consider whether it would not
have been possible to have sold her something, instead of allowing her
to turn away. I reasoned that, while she asked for an 8-in. saucepan,
she might have been just as well satisfied with a 7-in. or a 9-in. or
something else. Jones had not, however, made any attempt to see if
something else would suit her. I reasoned that there were also many
cases like this coming up every week, and that if we could only outline
some standard method of handling such cases, it would mean quite a lot
of sales saved--and, better still, in customers saved. That customer who
went out, if she found what she asked for at Stigler's, would probably
figure that we did not have a very complete stock, and, in any case,
when we forced a customer to buy somewhere else it tended to cultivate
the habit of trading there.

I figured that here was a good subject to bring up for our meeting the
following Monday, and I sat down to work out some general rule to cover
such situations.

It took a long time for my inexperienced mind to put in writing that I
wanted to say, but finally, with the help of Betty, I evolved the
following, and then, deciding that it was such an important matter that
it ought not to be delayed until the next Monday, I had it typewritten,
and gave a copy to each of the force.

This is what I wrote:

     "Never tell a customer we are out of stock of anything.
     If something is asked for that is not in stock, offer
     the customer something else that will, in your
     judgment, satisfy her. If a customer, for example,
     should ask for an 8-in. aluminum saucepan and we are
     out of that size, bring her both a 7-in. and a 9-in.
     size and say: 'These are the nearest we have to the
     8-in. size. Which of these would suit you best?' If the
     customer should hesitate, impress upon her the benefit
     of buying a saucepan rather larger than she anticipates
     needing. If the customer says that nothing but the
     8-in. size will suit her, suggest that you can give her
     an enameled pan in that size, and if that won't do, ask
     her to leave her name and address and we will have one
     expressed to her promptly from the manufacturer. Apply
     methods similar to these in every case when we are
     asked for something of which we are out of stock. Make
     it a rule never to allow a customer to leave the store
     without making every attempt to sell her something that
     will be satisfactory to her."

I was really pleased with myself when I heard an animated discussion on
this new rule. Jones exclaimed:

"Jiminny Christmas, the Boss has got more sense than I thought he had!"

I told Betty that, when I got home, and she immediately fingered all my
vest buttons.

"What's that for?" I asked.

"I think," she said gravely, but with a twinkle in her eye, "you had
better take off your vest and let me fasten those buttons with wires, or
else you'll be bursting them, through swelling with pride!"



I met Barlow one morning taking his "constitutional." While I was
working for him we fellows always used to laugh at his plan of going for
a walk every day for fifteen or twenty minutes. We used to think it was
a freak notion of his for keeping in health.

Barlow shook hands with me and asked me how business was going. I told
him that sales were picking up very slowly. Then he asked me:

"And how is friend Stigler affecting you now?"

I told him about the scheme I had been working on Stigler.

"But," I concluded, "I don't bother much with thinking about him now."

"That's excellent!" he exclaimed. "He isn't doing any too well, I know,
and he has some time on his hands to talk. You forget him as much as
possible and just go ahead and 'saw wood.'"

"That's what I'm trying to do. But I'm still keeping up that plan of
marking down the goods in the window for an hour in the morning until he
cuts his goods."

Barlow chuckled at that: "It is amusing," he said, "that Stigler hasn't
yet realized that you are not cutting your own prices but merely making
him cut his!"

"But, really," I said, "so much is always happening that I've forgotten
almost everything but business."

"I'm very glad to hear it, Dawson," he replied, "and you'll find that,
as long as you are going on the right track, that same spirit will
continue. I find business so crowded with interesting things that I can
hardly tear myself away from it at night."

"I notice, though," I said, with a sly smile, "that you still take your
half hour's constitutional every morning."

"Surely you know what I do that for?"

"What is it, if it isn't to keep yourself in trim or something of that

"I'll tell you, Dawson: A man can't be in the same surroundings long
without becoming blind to their physical aspects. If I were to stay in
the store all the time, I would soon become blind to poor window
displays, to disorderliness and neglect about the store--to those
hundred and one defects which creep up in a store and which react
unfavorably on customers. So I make a point every day of putting on my
hat and walking around a few blocks, looking at the other stores,
familiarizing myself with the window trims, keeping a line on new ideas,
and the like. And by the way, Dawson, I have obtained some of my best
ideas of window trimming from displays in other stores--not hardware
stores, I mean. I had a splendid idea for a trim one time from a display
at Middal's." Middal ran a stationery store. "Tony once had an
arrangement of fruit in his window that gave me a good idea for a tool

"I tell you, Dawson, there are good ideas lying around everywhere, and
it only requires a little imagination to adapt them to your own uses.
It's a poor sort of merchant who cannot use the good ideas from other
lines of business and adapt them to his own requirements."

"So that's why you take your morning constitutional?" I asked. "To see
what good ideas you can pick up!"

"Yes, I see what good ideas I can pick up, but that's only one part of
it. My main idea is to let my eyes see something other than what they
are in the habit of seeing. I want them to get away from looking at the
environment of the store, so that when I return from my
'constitutional,' as you call it, I can look at my store as if I were a
casual visitor. Every time I approach it I say to myself, 'What would I,
as a stranger, think of that store?' And I find that, by looking at it
in this way, I keep my viewpoint fresh. I quickly notice any flaws in
the store management."

"Then all that time I was working with you and thought, with all the
other fellows, that it was a crank idea of yours, you were really
following out a definite store policy, as it were?"


"Then," I blurted out, "why didn't you ever tell us what it was for? We
could perhaps have done the same thing!"

"I never told you," he answered, "because I felt it wouldn't help you
fellows, and I didn't think it wise to tell my help what I was doing.
You see my point?" he said, with a smile.

"I feel foolish to think of disagreeing with you, Mr. Barlow," I said,
"but candidly, I think it would have paid to have told us. I believe a
boss gets more out of his men when he tells them what he is working
for. I think, too, that many bosses are afraid to let the men see the
wheels go round. I may be wrong, but I am going on the plan of telling
the fellows as much as possible about the business. I believe that the
more they know about the business, the more interest they will take in
it, and the better they will be able to work in its interests."

We were strolling toward my store and were just passing Stigler's at
that minute. Stigler was standing at the door, and, as we passed, he
said with a grin:

"Good morning, gentlemen. Hatching up a new conspiracy to corner the
hardware trade in the town? If so, don't fail to let me in. I'm always
looking for an easy thing, you know. K-ha!"

Barlow turned around with a laugh, and said:

"You always will have your bit of fun, won't you, Stigler?"

I was too mad to say anything.

"I'm surprised you can joke with him like that!" I said to Barlow. But
then he turned around, and I saw a snap in his eye, which told me that
he was really angry, just as much as I was, but had learned to control
his feelings better.

Well, we shook hands, and I left him to go into the store. His closing
remark was:

"Stick to it, Dawson! Call on me if I can help you at any time, and,
while you don't want to be spying on Stigler, of course, keep your eye

But when we parted I suddenly decided, instead of going into the store,
to try Barlow's plan and take a stroll around the block and then try to
view the store as if I were a customer. I felt a little disappointed,
then, at the general appearance of the outside of the store. More paint
would certainly improve it. In fact, it was a kind of joke to find on
the big side door an old sign, the letters half worn off and the rest
dirty and dusty, reading:

"Fresh paint improves your property. Use Star Brand."

I was still handling the Star Brand, but had never bothered about the
sign! I had the sign taken down right away, and determined there and
then to see the landlord, and get him to paint the outside of the store.

Barlow was certainly no fool!



Soon after my talk with Barlow, I planned a big sale to reduce my stock.
I was most anxious to reduce it $2,000.00 worth, and at the same time I
wanted to see if I could not hit back at Stigler. He was keeping up his
price-cutting campaign, although he had evidently realized the fact that
I took my cut prices off the goods as soon as he cut his, so that he had
begun to put the same kind of goods in his window that I did, but cut
them about 10 or 15 per cent. from the regular prices.

I had spoken to Jock McTavish about this, and had suggested that perhaps
I ought to cut all goods down to cost for a little while, for apparently
Stigler could sell at a 15 per cent. reduction and still make a profit.

"No," said Jock. "Dinna ye ken that he loses money when he cuts his
goods that much?"

"Why, how can that be?" I asked. "Suppose he buys something for $1.00,
and the regular price is $1.50. He cuts that 15 per cent.--he would be
selling it at--at $1.27. He would make 27¢ profit!"

"Ye're wrong," replied Jock. "The cost o' the goods is no the bare
invoice price, but the cost plus the cost o' selling. Noo, as ye ken, it
will cost ye round aboot 30 per cent. on cost to sell your goods, so
that those goods would cost $1.00 plus 30¢, the cost o' selling; and
when he sells them for $1.27 he'll be losing 3¢ on every sale."

"But he could care for his overhead on his regular stock," I replied.

"Verra foolish reasoning," snapped Jock, "for a mon to mak' a part of
his sales carry the freight for aw o' 'em!"

I had thought about this afterward, and finally had been able to see
how, if he cut his goods 15 per cent., he couldn't make anything on the

However, several people had been saying that Stigler had got me "on the
run," so I decided it was up to me to have a whack at him. Therefore, I
planned what I called an "Automatic Sale." I picked out a whole lot of
stock, goods a little bit damaged, lines that I had no sale for at
all--I found a lot of things which the two previous owners of the store
bought and stored away and apparently never did anything with. I found
about a gross of painted rubber balls; I found a lot of juvenile
printing outfits; and padlocks--I dug up about three gross of padlocks,
of the strangest patterns you could think of! I found eleven different
makes of safety razors, and there were only two of them I had ever sold
any quantity of. I planned to reduce the number of lines as much as I
could and just push the real sellers--put my money into goods that would
sell quickly and so increase my turn-over.

All the five-cent articles that I wanted to dispose of in this sale I
tied in pairs--two for ten cents.

I intended to run four narrow tables down the center of the store. The
first one was to contain ten-cent goods, the next twenty-five cent, the
next fifty-cent, and the last one all the odds and ends at various

My idea was to run the sale on the plan of automatic reduction of price.
I had got the idea from a magazine which had said that, if you could
offer anything to people which appealed to the sporting instinct that is
in every one of us, you would attract attention. So I decided to try to
appeal to this sporting instinct by automatically reducing the goods one
cent in every ten cents every day, until the goods were reduced to
nothing,--and then give away what was left.

I had talked this over with the boys at our Monday's weekly
meeting--which, by the way, had been a most interesting one and
continued for over an hour instead of the three-quarters of an hour we
had planned--and they had been very enthusiastic over it. I had also
talked it over with Betty and Jock and Fellows. While Jock shook his
head and said, "Ye're takkin' a big risk, mon," Betty had said, "Go
ahead and do it, boy!" Fellows just said, "Bully, you're going to be a
real man before you're through!"

Larsen seemed to be getting younger every day. When I came out of the
store the day after I had announced my plans, he was talking over the
idea with the other boys in a very excited and enthusiastic manner.

The sale was planned to start in two weeks hence, and, during those two
weeks, car signs were displayed in all our trolleys, worded like this:

    "A penny in ten a day,
    Till the goods are given away."
    Begins Thursday, Aug. 26.
    Get Particulars.

In addition to this, Larsen and Wilkes tacked these signs on all the
trees and blank spaces they could about the town.

Just one week before the sale started, I put the following "ad." in both
our local papers for three days, without any change of copy:

    that describes the big sale

    is running from Thursday, Aug. 26 to ----? _You_ decide
    when the sale ceases.

    _Heavy stocks must be reduced_

    I have decided to sell all surplus stock

    Every article to be offered in this sale is plainly
    marked at regular price, and is now on display on the

    On the opening day, all prices will be reduced one cent
    in every ten cents, and a further reduction of one cent
    in ten will automatically take place every day until the
    prices of the goods are reduced to nothing.

    _They will then be given away_

    See the special circulars, or call at

    32 Hill Street.

I ordered from the printer four circulars which were clipped together
with wire. One sheet talked about the ten-cent goods, another about the
twenty-five-cent, another about the fifty, and the fourth about the
mixed table. The sheet explanatory of the twenty-five cent goods was as

    32 Hill St.

    Two thousand dollars' worth of goods to be sold at _your
    own price_. All you have to do is wait until the goods
    are reduced to your price, and then--buy them--if there
    are any left.


    Every article on each counter is plainly marked at
    regular prices and can be seen now.

    Sale begins Thursday, Aug. 26, and the first reduction
    will be made that day--and a further similar reduction
    will be made every day thereafter until the goods are
    sold or until the prices are reduced to nothing, when
    they will be given away.

    The following is an illustration of how the articles
    listed on the reverse side of this sheet will be
    reduced, as well as scores of other 25-cent articles not
    listed here:

    REGULAR PRICE       25¢       Regular price
    Thursday, Aug. 26   22½¢      2½¢ saved
    Friday, Aug. 27     20¢       Put a nickel in your pocket
    Saturday, Aug. 28   17½¢      Saves you 7½¢
    Monday, Aug. 30     15¢       And two trolley rides free
    Tuesday, Aug. 31    12½¢      _Half price_--if any left
    Wednesday, Sept. 1  10¢       But why talk of saving if there
                                  are none left
    Thursday, Sept. 2   7½¢       Saves 17½¢--but too late
    Friday, Sept. 3     5¢        Would save 20¢ if others had not
                                  cleaned them out
    Saturday, Sept. 4   2½¢       But why talk about saving
    Tuesday, Sept. 7    FREE      Help yourself to what is left

    (See other side)

On the reverse side was the following list:--


    Large size whisk brooms
    Handy household saws
    Steel garden hand forks and trowels
    Heavy enameled saucepans
    Bristle-tight paint brushes
    Warranted pocketknives
    Reliable padlocks
    Double-well dust-proof ink stands
    Bronze watch fobs
    A large assortment of window shades
    Juvenile sets of knife, fork and spoon
    Fine quality scissors--all sizes
    Enameled sink baskets
    Steel frying pans
    "Scour-clean" soap for cleaning greasy pans
    Pocket manicure sets
    Wire clothes lines
    Boys' printing outfits--rubber type
    "Clix" patent shoe shining sets
    Many styles in window fasteners
    Enamel--varnish paint
    Insect powder
    Bicycle pumps--bells--tools
    Corkscrews--razor strops


Over each table I had a big card, of which the following is a sample:--


    Look them over--Buy while you can!

    REGULAR PRICE       50¢    Regular price
    Thursday, Aug. 26   45¢    A nickel saved
    Friday, Aug. 27     40¢    A dime in your pocket
    Saturday, Aug. 28   35¢    Saves the price of three sodas
    Monday, Aug. 30     30¢    Saves four trolley fares
    Tuesday, Aug. 31    25¢    Half price--any left?
    Wednesday, Sept. 1  20¢    Makes your saving look like 30¢
    Thursday, Sept. 2   15¢    And 35¢ to the good--IF
    Friday, Sept. 3     10¢    Saves 40¢
    Saturday, Sept. 4    5¢    Ten for the price of one--but you
                               missed your chance
    Tuesday, Sept. 7   FREE    Help yourself to what is left

Jock had said: "Mon, they'll all wait till the last day and then come
and steal the goods awa' frae ye!"

"No," Betty had replied, "many will buy, before the goods are reduced
much, for fear somebody else will buy them first."

Larsen suggested having a big sign in the window headed:


"You see, Boss," he had said, "the folks'll see a number of things put
on the list. They'll figure they'd better not wait else what they want
will be sold."

Fellows chimed in with, "Tell you what to do, Black. Put in just two or
three of some articles, so that by the end of the first day you'll be
able to post up some goods that are sold out."

Jock had a further suggestion, "Ye've got an unusual plan there, laddie;
why don't ye tell the newspapers aboot it. Maybe they'll give ye a
stor-ry in reference to it."

"That's a good idea," I had replied, "I'll try it."

"Don't ye think," he continued, "that it would pay ye tae put a list in
the papers each day o' the goods that are sold, and call it 'Too late to
buy the following at Dawson Black's Automatic Sales--Some one else got
ahead o' ye',' or-r something like that?"

I decided to adopt that plan and that I would call on the newspaper
people to see if I could not get a write-up on the sale from them.

I really was getting anxious for the sale to start so that I could see
how it would come off. I felt that I was taking a big risk, since, if it
failed, I would lose a few hundred dollars. But, even then, I would turn
some dead stock into cash, and I remembered that, at the trade
convention, one fellow had said a dollar in the till was worth two
dollars of unsalable goods on the shelves, "for," said he, "if you turn
that two dollars' worth of goods into a dollar cash and you turn that
dollar over three and a half times in a year, you are going to earn a
profit on three and a half dollars' worth of live stuff instead of the
questionable profit on two dollars' worth of dead stuff!"

I guess we are all gamblers at heart, for every one, even the Mater, had
become interested and excited over my first attempt at a big sale.

I hadn't quite decided whether to send the circulars by mail, or to have
them delivered to every home in town by messenger; but was inclined to
adopt the latter plan.

Fellows suggested, "Why don't you get some pretty girls to go around and
deliver them? They would make a hit!"

"Do you think so?" flashed back Betty. "That's just where you're
mistaken, Mr. Smarty--if you think a woman is going to be tickled to
have a pretty girl come up to the door: send a homely one and it might

Aren't women queer?



I would like to be able to say that there were big sales on the first
day of the automatic sale. All the goods on those four sales' counters
had been reduced one cent in ten--ten-cent articles to nine cents, and
so on--but, on the first day, we took in only $36.00 from those

I found that the invoice cost of all the goods which I had put on in the
sale was $1,364.00. If I could only get that amount in cash out of them,
I would be more than satisfied, for I would have turned into money a lot
of stock which was old, damaged or such slow sellers as not to be worth
keeping. With the money I could buy goods that would sell quickly and
thus increase my rate of turn-over.

But only $36.00 worth sold the first day! And the sale of other goods
had been unusually slow, also. In fact, it was the worst day I had had
since I bought the store.

Not very promising for the beginning of a sale, was it? But Betty, bless
her heart, said, "Wait until Monday or Tuesday and you'll find things
will go along all right. The prices are not yet reduced enough to make
people eager to buy."

Although the goods on the bargain counters had been reduced 20 per
cent., only $47.00 worth went the next day!

Larsen shook his head and said, "It _may_ come out all right." He was a
regular Job's comforter!

That night, I said to Betty, "Perhaps it would be wise to call the sale
off, and put some of the goods back into stock again."

She replied: "Whatever you do, don't call the sale off! If there are any
lines that are really good, you might quietly put some of them back, but
don't call the sale off! It would hurt you too much. By the way," she
added, "I wonder what Stigler's window is covered up for to-day?"

I had noticed that as I came home. He had pulled the shades down in his
window, and, although it was 8:30 when I passed the store, the lights
were still burning inside. I had an uncomfortable feeling that he was
going to do something to me.

I wondered if he was going after me on prices even worse than before! I
did not sleep very well that night. It's easy to say "what's the use of
losing sleep over a thing," but, when a man finds the bottom knocked out
of his business because of competition, plans a big sale and it starts
off as a hopeless fizzle, after an outlay of over a hundred dollars for
advertising, he can't help but worry! The man isn't born that can find
things slipping away as I had and not worry over it!

Betty was a real comfort. She said:--"Don't you see, boy dear, that's
just what you need, a lot of trouble?"

"Huh," I replied, "I'm certainly getting what I need, good and plenty!"

She smiled, and replied, "That's right, keep your sense of humor. One of
my teachers once said that a sense of humor is a safety valve which
prevents us blowing up from the pressure of too much trouble. You're
going to pull through this all right, and you'll be a better and a
bigger man for the experience!"

What would I have done without her! I wonder, if the big business men of
the country were to tell the truth, how much of their success they would
owe to some quiet little woman who gave them the right kind of
encouragement and admonition? Whatever success I may have had I'll be
frank enough to admit that I would not have succeeded if it hadn't been
for Betty.

On the third day of the Sale, we kept the store open till 11 o'clock,
and it was midnight before I left.

When I had passed Stigler's that morning I had found his windows piled
high with kitchen goods, on which were labels with the regular retail
price. I had stood at the window and looked at the different prices to
be sure that they were genuine, and, surely enough, the prices were
regular. But then I noticed a big sign, hung from above, which read:


     For one day only, every article in this window will be
     offered at 25 per cent. off regular price. These goods
     are offered for sale, and will really be sold. We are
     not offering to give goods away that won't be there!

I was doing some pretty quick thinking while I was standing there, for,
while only about half the goods in my sale were kitchen utensils, I
certainly had made a big push on those goods.

At that moment Stigler came along from behind me, walked right up to me,
and said:


"How are you, Stigler?" I returned.

"Fine!" he said. "Enjoying the weather! How do you like my little
window, eh? I'm glad to see yer take an interest in what we are doing!
Of course, if you ain't satisfied with what you see there, come right
along inside and I'll show yer me books!"

"I was just passing your store, Stigler, and, naturally, I looked in
your window."

"Sure--sure," he said, nodding his head sarcastically, "you fellers have
a habit of passing the store pretty often, don't yer? Quite a clever
stunt you are putting up there, with that automatic give-away-nothin'
idea. Kinder thought I'd start in the cutting line myself a bit. How
d'ye like it?"

"I don't know what I have ever done to you that you should make such a
dead set on me."

"N-no?" he returned with a drawl. "Well, I'll just tell yer, young
feller. I've just kinder got a fancy to get some more business, and as
some of the trade seems to be floatin' around kind o' easy like, I
thought I'd just nail it down. And if by any chance some dear
competitor"--and his lips curled in derision as he said this--"happens
to get in the way, well!--I can kinder be sorry for him like, and
perhaps give him a job sometime if he wants one."

Then I had lost my temper.

"You're a four-flushing cur, and just as sure as my name is Black, I'll
give you a run for your money! If you think you can scare me, you're
mistaken! And if you want a fight, by George, I'll give it to you!"

Stigler leaned against the corner of his window and said:

"My, somebody's been feedin' yer meat, ain't they?" and then he turned
and walked into his store.

The first thing I did when I got to the store was to tell Larsen I
wanted to put a dollar in the "swear box," and then I told him the
incident. He shook his head thoughtfully, and said:

"Too bad, Boss, too bad."

I wished that I had kept control over my tongue! I felt that Stigler had
had the best of the scrap that morning. I felt that he had put it all
over me. I had felt like a scolded boy, and I had probably looked like
one as I marched away from his store with my ears and face burning,
a-tremble in my limbs.

Larsen had quickly written a sign which said, "30 per cent. reduction
to-day on all goods offered in our automatic sale!" Then he asked me if
I could manage to spare him for a couple of hours.

"What for?" I asked.

"I tell you, Boss," he said. "We got a lot of good carpenter tools in
the sale. I want to go to every carpenter in town and tell 'em what we
got. Stigler tries to get sales in carpenters' tools. He got a mad at
you because you put in more stock. I'll tell 'em they can buy
carpenters' tools for 30 per cent. less regular price. That'll hit
Stigler where he lives!"

I caught a bit of Larsen's enthusiasm. Isn't it remarkable how a man
over fifty like Larsen could have the energy and enthusiasm he showed? I
really thought he was getting younger every day, while I was getting

When he came back to the store, about 11:30 he was smiling.

"How did you make out?" I asked.

"Fine! I got over $60.00 of orders. I promise to put the tools one side.
The folks'll call later in day. Some that didn't order said they goin'
to come in."

"That's great!" I exclaimed, and my spirits immediately rose.

"Any business this morning?" Larsen asked.

"Yes," I replied, "four lines sold out."

"Kitchen goods?"

"Yes, all of them. You know that cheap line of enameled frying pans?"


"Well, a woman came in and bought twelve of them!"


"Yep. And then another one came in and bought six! They've been selling
in bunches," and I chuckled. "What are you looking so glum at?" I asked
him suddenly.

"We got a hole in our plan," he returned. "We oughta say no person buy
more than one of anything. I bet them frying pans in Stigler's now. They
was good at the price. He couldn't buy 'em wholesale to-day for it. I
bet he sell 'em off to-day, and we got none. He got one of our big cards
and plays it himself."

"I've got the list of goods sold out ready to put in the window," I
said, and passed him over a card on which I had listed the goods which
were all gone.

"I think," he said, "we better put some more frying pans in the sale and
not say we sold out."

"That's a good idea," I returned; and we put a half dozen more of our
regular stock on the 50-cent counter. Then we agreed to be cautious
about selling any more articles in "bunches."

To my surprise, our sales for that third day on the "automatic" goods
were $421.00, so the first three days of our sale netted $504.00. That
sounded encouraging.

If I could get another $860.00 for the balance of the sale, I would not
have done so badly. I decided that I had planned right in having the
third day sale come on Saturday, for that was always a big day with us.
The reduction had been a substantial one, and yet everything that was
sold had been sold for more than the invoice price.

Our tool sale had been unusually large; Larsen's trip to the carpenters
had helped that out a lot.

After the store was closed we made a list of the articles which were
sold out and posted them in the window so that they would be seen the
next day. Over sixty different lines were sold out, and the list was
quite a formidable one.

Then we drew another big sign, which we placed in the window, saying:

     At eight o'clock Monday this store will be opened, and
     the few remaining goods in our automatic sale may be
     bought at 4¢ in ten discount, or 40 per cent. reduction
     from regular price. As the sale has been a phenomenal
     success, we anticipate clearing out the balance of the
     goods on Monday. Early comers will secure the best

Stigler springing that 25 per cent. reduction sale on kitchen goods had
unfortunately spoilt a lot of business which I felt sure we would have
had otherwise. We had overcome some of the loss, however, by the extra
push we had made on carpenters' tools.

When I told Betty about it after getting home, she said:

"Well, Stigler didn't waste any time getting after you, did he?"

"No," I said with a grin.

"And do you know that he says now that your sale has proved a fizzle and
that practically all your goods have been put back in stock again? . . .
_Quiet_," she said, putting her hand on my shoulder, for I was about to
explode with temper. "I suppose no man can be successful without having
a lot of people throw mud at him."

That evening I was so tired that I fell asleep in my chair. Betty woke
me up by putting her arm around my neck, and saying:

"You had better go along to bed now, boy dear. Here, drink this--it will
make you rest better"--and I drank a glass of hot milk she had prepared
for me, and went to bed.

On Monday we had a wonderful clearance. Most of the goods were sold, and
our total for the four days' sale was $1,090.00!

The boys were all dead tired. I had sent Wilkes about 7 o'clock to get
some hot coffee and sandwiches for us, for we had a continuous crowd of
customers in the store and not one of the store crowd would think of
leaving. We took drinks of coffee and bites of sandwiches in between
serving customers, and the coffee was all cold before we got through
with it!

You will remember my telling that I had discharged Myricks and that he
had gone to work for Stigler. Well, Stigler had fired him after a couple
of weeks, saying that he had found out all he knew and had no further
use for him. Myricks had been looking for a job ever since, and, as I
knew I would have to have some extra help for the sale, I put him on
again. In fact, I had told him that, if he behaved himself I might be
able to use him for the winter, for it had been tremendously hard work
for our little force to take care of the business, and I had felt that
if we had another clerk it would relieve me to do some more planning,
and might also allow Jones or Larsen to do some soliciting for business;
for I hadn't forgotten what that pencil sharpener man had told me, and
had decided that, after the sale I would go.

Well, Myricks had started on Thursday morning, and had seemed to be
working well. I had noticed, however, on the following Monday, that he
didn't ring up one of his sales. He had sold over $6.00 worth of goods
and I had seen him put the money in his pocket and go after another

I called him to one side, later in the day, and said:

"Myricks, why didn't you ring up that sale?"

He went red, and then white, and said:

"Er--er--you see--I'll tell you--that other customer was impatient and I
wanted to get to him quickly and I thought it would save time and I
could ring it up later."

"Don't do it!" I replied sharply. "Ring up every sale as you make it!"

We were too busy to dispense with him then, but I wondered--I

When we closed the store Tuesday no more goods were left! The sales that
day had been $427.00.

Of course when I say there were no more goods left, I mean there were
perhaps thirty or forty odd items left, but I was certain that they
would be all sold out the next day.

The total for the sale had been $1,517.00. My advertising had cost me
$127.00, so that my net cash from the sale was $1,390.00. That showed me
a cash profit of $24.00. But, gee whiz!--didn't that bank account look

I planned to take up that note of $1,000.00 at the bank, right away. It
would seem good to get rid of that. And I was going to Barrington and
pay $250.00 on that $1,250.00 loan for which he had taken a mortgage on
my farm.

Gosh, it did seem good to have some money, although after I had taken
$1,250.00 from $1,390.00, there wouldn't be much real cash left. Still,
I hadn't been buying much, and my bills were unusually small that month.

When I got home I rushed into the house, took hold of Betty and swung
her around several times, and sang my little song--"Half-price day is
over and no more goods are left!" We behaved like a couple of kids.

She thought I would be making a mistake to pay off that thousand dollars
at the bank. She thought I ought to leave $500.00 of it, for she said I
wouldn't have enough money to pay my month's bills and would have to
borrow again.

"Well, they'll let me do it, if necessary," I said; "and besides, I'm
not paying interest on what I am not borrowing."

"Perhaps you're right," she said with a laugh, "and now come and get
your dinner."

Dinner, at 10:30 at night! However, what's meal time when you're busy?
How I pitied those poor fellows who don't get heart and soul into their
work. Time surely does fly when you do! What a shirker I had been when I
had worked for Barlow! The days had seemed long then.

I gave all my fellows a special bonus that week for the work they had
done. I gave Larsen $10.00, Jones $6.00 and Wilkes $3.00--that is, an
extra half week's pay.

Myricks had gone. In spite of being busy I had gotten rid of him that
Tuesday. I had caught him again putting money in his pocket, and Mr.
Pinkham, who bought a saw, also told me that he had noticed Myricks
didn't ring up the money.

I had kept my eye on Myricks, and then, when there was a little lull in
trade, I had called him into my little office and ordered him to turn
out his pockets.

"What's that for?" he asked impudently.

"I want to see how much money you have got there," I said.

"I don't see that it's anybody's business what money I have got in my
pockets," he replied.

"Well, it has something to do with me," I returned sternly, "for you
told me yesterday you were carrying my money in your pockets. Now, I
insist on knowing what you have got in your pockets."

"All I've got is money of my own, and I don't see that it's any of your

"You are going to turn out your pockets before you leave this office," I
said angrily. My voice was raised and the others in the store were
gazing in our direction. "If not, I'll call a policeman."

"Call him in and be damned," he said, and he struck at me.

I lost my temper, and for once I was glad of it, for I landed on him and
hit him fair and square under the jaw. He fell against the desk,
upsetting a vase full of flowers that Betty had put there. He got up,
holding his head, and blood was trickling from a cut in his cheek where
he had caught the edge of the desk.

I was so raging mad that I was prepared for almost anything.

"Now, damn you!" I said with a snarl, "turn out your pockets _quick_!"

He did so, and I found $37.00 there.

"It's my money," he said surlily. "It's my money! You touch that money
and I'll have the law on you!"

I picked up the money, put it in my pocket, and said:

"Now, I'll give you just five minutes to get clear out of my sight!
Before you go, let me tell you that customers have seen you putting
money in your pocket, and I have seen you also. Just let me have one
peep from you, now or any other time, and I'll have you in jail! Now,
beat it!"

I opened the door and he slunk out.

"I'll get you yet," he growled as he left.

I had lost my temper, I knew I had; but I was mighty glad I had; for I
felt if I hadn't I wouldn't have given him the lesson he deserved. And
incidentally, I had learned another lesson, and that is, never rehire a
discharged employee. Then and there I determined that, so long as I was
in business, if an employee ever left me for any reason whatever, I
would never reinstate him. He would be through forever.


When I got home that night, Betty remarked:

"Why, look at the knuckles on your hand! They have blood on them! What
have you done?"

"Oh, I just knocked into the cash register $37.00 which was walking out
of the door," I returned jauntily. And then I told her the whole story.

She came over and kissed me and said:

"Good boy!" and her eyes flashed as she said it. "I'm proud of you!"

Those four words meant more to me than the success of this sale.

Betty and I went to Boston the next day. I wanted to call at Bates &
Hotchkin's to buy a few things I needed, and also I wanted to call on
Mr. Barker, to whom Mr. Sirle had given me a card of introduction some
time ago. I intended that we should have a nice little dinner, and take
in a show and stay at a good hotel for the night and come back the next
day. All by way of celebration.

"You are an extravagant man," said Betty severely when I told her this.
"What train do we leave by? I'll be ready."



We had a great time in Boston. In the evening we went to see "Pollyanna"
and I told Betty I had fallen in love with Patricia Collinge.

"I'll get jealous," she said, and squeezed my arm.

When we reached the city I called on Bates & Hotchkin, ordered some
goods, and told them about the sale. I had a talk with Mr. Peck, the
credit man who called on me the time I had had trouble paying my bills.

"That was fine," he said, "but pretty risky work--pretty risky work. You
succeeded with it all right this time, but next time I wouldn't risk so
much on one sale.

"By the way," he asked, "how much did you sell during the period of the
sale, other than the reduced-price goods, or does that $1,517.00 include
the sale of regular goods as well?"

"Oh, no," I replied. "That represents the money we took in from the
goods which were reduced. I haven't figured yet what the sales for
general goods were the first three days of this week, but I know that
last week we sold $824.00 worth of goods, so that we had a sale on
general goods of $320.00. Our sale really helped rather than hindered
our general turn-over."

"Splendid," he said. "To what do you attribute mostly the success of the

"Well, I don't know. But I do know that the enthusiasm of my fellows
helped a lot, and the help I got from Fellows of the Flaxon Advertising
Company. In fact, I think everybody had something to do with it. I know
Mrs. Black did," turning around to Betty.

"I usually find," said Mr. Peck, "that, whether it's success or failure,
there's a woman at the bottom of it."

The next morning I went to see Mr. Barker and presented the card which
Mr. Sirle had given me. Barker had a fine, big store on Summit Street. I
rather expected to get just an ordinary, formal reception, for I figured
that he must be a very busy man. To my surprise, he gave me a lot of
time. He was a most interesting man. I apologized for taking up his
time, saying:

"I mustn't keep you, Mr. Barker, for you are such a busy man and have a
lot of things to attend to."

"Oh, no, indeed, Mr. Black," he said. "I always figure that the head of
a business should always have plenty of time on his hands. I arrange my
work so that I can go any time I wish to have a round at the links. I
believe one of the earmarks of a true executive is his ability to slam
down the lid of his desk--that is, assuming he is so old-fashioned as to
have a roll-top desk--beastly things, they are. I think a roll-top desk
is an invention of the devil to induce lazy people to shove work into
pigeon holes instead of doing it! Roll-top desks are one of my pet
aversions. As I was saying, I think one of the earmarks of a real
executive is his ability to leave his business at any time and know that
it will run safely. An executive must reduce work to routine as much as
possible. He must do the _thinking_ and let others do the _doing_. It
is easy enough to get people to do things when you tell them what to do.
I remember," he said, reminiscently, "hearing a speaker once say that
the value of a man, from his neck down, was limited to $2.50 a day, but,
from his neck up, there was no limit to his value. Now, an executive
uses his body from his neck up, to plan work for other fellows to do
with their bodies below the neck."

"But, of course," I said, "you've a big business here. You can hire
plenty of fellows to do all you want."

"True," he said, "but remember, it was not always a big business; and,
however small your business may be, you can plan to let others do the
less important work, and keep the more important work for yourself. Of
course, the most important job any retailer has is to buy right, and to
plan his sales policies and methods and advertising."

Mr. Barker's desk was on a kind of mezzanine floor, from which he could
look all over the store, and while he was talking I noticed that his
eyes constantly roved over it.

At one time he suddenly broke off in the middle of a sentence and
pressed a button on his desk. A stenographer appeared and he asked her
to send Riske to him. In a few minutes a young fellow appeared and stood
before his desk.

"Jim," said Mr. Barker, "you had a customer a few minutes ago who wanted
some automobile accessories."

"Yes, sir," replied Jim.

"When he came into the store he stood just inside the doorway, and kept
glancing sidewise at his car?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, instead of going to him, you looked at him and waited for him to
come over to you. Now, never do that again, for it is bad salesmanship.
We want to express to our customers by our words and actions that we are
glad to have them visit our store, and that we approach them more than
half way. Now, for us to stand still and make a customer walk right up
to us at the end of the counter is not expressing that attitude, is it?"

Jim was silent.

"Whenever a customer comes into the store, always go to him. The very
act of walking toward the customer makes him feel more at ease; and
incidentally, when you get a customer like the one you had, don't ask
him to come to the rear of the store as you did, for he was nervous
about his car. Instead, you should bring the article to him--that is, if
it is some small article that can be easily brought.

"Now, this is apparently only a little matter, but you know most big
things are made up of a bunch of little ones, aren't they? If you'll
just remember that, Jim, I'll be much obliged to you."

And with this kindly admonition he dismissed Jim.

I wished I had the ability to give helpful suggestions like that.

I made some remark to Mr. Barker about that, and he said:

"If my salespeople are not successful, I am to blame, not they. I am in
my position because I have, or am supposed to have, more knowledge of
business and selling than they, and it is up to me to pass my knowledge
out to them, and to help them to become better salesmen. I believe
that, if ever a man wants to find out who is responsible for his
failure, he should look at the fellow he shaves in the morning."

"But come," he said, putting on his hat, "won't you come and have lunch
with me?"

And this big, busy retail merchant, who was not too big or too busy to
take me, a little dealer in a small town to lunch, took me over to the
Exeter House, where we had an excellent dinner, and a most enjoyable
chat; after which he took me over to the association rooms, which I had
for some time wanted to visit, where I met some other likeable fellows
in the hardware business who happened to be in town.

I wished I could have stayed longer to talk with some of the interesting
men there, but I felt we ought to get back to Farmdale; so I tore myself
away, feeling, however, that our joy ride had proved to be of practical
dollars-and-cents value to me.



My Monday night meetings were proving very beneficial, and one, in
particular, had been very interesting. It had been something of an

The secretary of the hardware association had been in town, and I had
asked him around to the house for lunch; and while there, I had told him
about our weekly meetings. He thought it was an excellent idea.

"You are doing a good thing," he said, "and you'll get a lot closer to
your boys. They work better for you, don't you know."

It was Betty who had suggested the idea. It hadn't occurred to me at
all. She was in the kitchen, getting the lunch ready, and I didn't think
she was paying any attention to what Mr. Field and I were talking about.
Then, as she was placing the lunch of chops and grilled sweet potatoes
(grilled as only Betty can grill them) on the table, she had remarked:

"If Mr. Field is staying in town to-night, why not ask him to attend
your meeting with you?"

"That's a dandy idea!" I returned enthusiastically. "Will you come, Mr.

And the big, rosy-faced, jovial secretary chuckled and said:

"Very glad to."

I had been told a number of times that Mr. Field was one of the
best-natured men in the world, which perhaps accounted somewhat for his
success. His readiness to comply with my request tended to show that
what I had heard about him was true.

"And, boy dear," said Betty sweetly, "Mr. Field has several stores of
his own. Why not make him an ex-officio member of the company for
to-night? Perhaps he could give you some good ideas on selling."

"Say, that's bully!" I cried, smacking my knee. "I'll tell the boys this

Betty smiled:

"Wouldn't it be just as well to ask Mr. Field first, if he would do it?"

"Why, yes, of course," I replied, blushing. "How careless of me! You
will, won't you, Mr. Field?"

"Only too glad to be of service," he returned, "if you think there is
anything I can say that will help them."

"I'm sure there is," I said impetuously.

We then settled down to our lunch. A few minutes later Betty suggested:

"Won't it make it pretty late for Mr. Field to get his dinner after the
meeting, since it doesn't start until 6:30?"

Then a brilliant idea struck me.

"Betty," I asked, "will you make us coffee and buy some doughnuts and
send them down to the store about quarter past six? That will keep us
from starving until the meeting is over."

Well, we had our coffee and doughnuts before the meeting started. Mr.
Field had a chance to mix with the boys, and got them all into good
humor. Then the meeting was called to order, and I announced that,
before Mr. Field began to talk, we would clean up any left-over matters.

I brought up the matter of the Cincinnati Pencil Sharpener agency. The
boys seemed to fight shy of doing any outside selling, and I, in a fit
of bravado--caused, I think, by the keen twinkle I saw in Mr. Field's

"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go out myself to-morrow, and see
what can be done with it. If I start the ball rolling, you fellows will
follow it up all right, won't you?"

And this was agreed to--somewhat half-heartedly, I must say.

Wilkes, who was delivery and messenger boy, and general boy of all work,
then asked if it wouldn't be a good idea to sell toys at Christmas time.
Jones laughed at this; but Larsen said nothing. I, myself, thought the
idea rather ridiculous, although I didn't say so, of course; but a
glance at Mr. Field's face showed me that he didn't think the idea was

"Tell you what we'll do," I said. "Let's leave that until next week, for
we want to have some good ideas from Mr. Field while we have him here."

Mr. Field, in his good-natured, friendly manner, started in by inviting
us to interrupt him at any time and ask any questions we wanted, because
he wasn't going to make a speech, but was just going "to talk."

I wish I had put down verbatim what he said; but, as I didn't I will
outline the main points he brought out--and some dandy pointers on
selling he gave us.

He was talking about courteous service to customers.

"Courtesy is something more than mere politeness," he said. "You have
to have the real feeling of wishing to do something for the customer,
and you have to show the customer you want to help him by every word and
action. Such a feeling, don't you know, will make you, when you see a
customer coming, go to him instead of standing still and waiting for him
to come to you."

"That's just what Mr. Barker was telling me last week!" I exclaimed.

Mr. Field then spoke about introducing other lines to the customers
while they were waiting.

"Have you ever noticed," he said, "when you go into a store to buy
something and you are waiting for the parcel to be wrapped, or waiting
for your change, that the salesman will usually make some remark about
the weather, or talk about the ball game, or the election returns?
That's all right and very interesting, perhaps, and it helps to make the
customer like the salesman. But it would make the cash register work
harder--and you know, boys, there's no Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Cash Registers--if, instead of talking about the weather, or
something of that kind, the clerk talked about something that might make
the cash register 'ting.' See what I mean, boys? Instead of saying, 'A
nice day, isn't it?' why don't you say 'This is a nice safety razor,' or
'do you use a safety razor?'"

Larsen broke in with:

"You ask him to buy something after he got what he wants? He get mad?

"Well," said Mr. Field, "he might, if you were to say to him, 'Wouldn't
you like to buy this safety razor?' But, of course, you would merely
pass the safety razor over to him, as you mention it, saying, perhaps:
'This is a new kind of safety razor which works differently from the
ordinary kind--what do you think of it?' You do not ask him to buy it;
but you just try to get him interested in it. The difference between
being interested in an article, and wanting to own it, is one of degree,
and not of kind. See what I mean?

"There is another thing that's helped sales in my own stores very
much--the use of suggestion. Whenever a customer buys anything, we
always suggest something that can go with it. For instance, I sell
stationery. Suppose a customer comes to our stationery counter and asks
for a box of note paper. We always suggest post-cards, blotting paper,
pen and ink, or anything else that is associated with the goods she has

"If a customer asked for a safety razor, don't you think it would be
poor salesmanship not to offer him something else? A machine could do
that much. But it takes a real salesman to sell him something else and I
know you boys are real salesmen. You mustn't have the customer feel that
he's been forced to buy something he doesn't want, but make him pleased
with his new purchase. When you're asked for a safety razor, and have
made this sale you should ask him what kind of shaving soap he uses, or
tell him that you have some good shaving brushes which will help to make
his shaving comfortable. If a man buys nails, suggest a hammer; if he
buys screws, suggest a screw-driver. It doesn't matter what you're
selling, there is always something you can suggest that will go with it,
and which is quite natural to suggest. I tell you, boys, a customer
will very often thank you for reminding him of something that he wants."

Larsen brought up a problem, and the way Mr. Field answered it, I
thought, was fine. Certainly it was something I never would have thought
of, and I knew that none of the boys would have known how to get around

Said Larsen: "A lady, she come in the other day and ask for an oil lamp.
I show her a nice one, bronze finish. But she says no, she want brass
finish. We don't carry brass finished lamps--no call for 'em. I tell her
bronze finish is better, keep cleaner and more stylish. But no, she
won't have it. She want brass finish and I couldn't sell her. What would
you do about it?"

"Of course," replied Mr. Field, "you can't sell to everybody. Some folks
have certain likes and dislikes, and it's a waste of time to try to
change their whims and fancies. I don't think I would have tried to
swing her into line on the question of the finish of the lamp, I would
have ignored that altogether and talked about some other advantages of
the lamp. Do you see what I mean? Here, how's this? Instead of talking
about the finish, why not say: 'Yes, madam, it's just a matter of taste
whether you prefer brass or the bronze finish. Most people prefer the
bronze and that's why we keep it. I know the brass finish looks well
but, after all, it's only a small matter. Isn't it more important to get
a lamp that does its work properly? Just notice this duplex burner,' and
then I would go on to describe all the other features of the lamp, its
burning qualities, its economy, its durability, and things of that kind.
You see, I would have tried to side track that objection to the finish
of the lamp by talking about other things. If necessary you could tell
her that she wouldn't have to clean the bronze finish as often as she
would the brass. Now, if that isn't clear to you, Mr. Larsen, say so.
Don't hesitate to speak up. You know I get more out of this than you
boys do, if you ask questions."

As no one asked a question Mr. Field went on:

"I don't believe you should argue with a customer on something which is
a matter of taste or fancy. If it was something about whether or not the
lamp gave a good light, you could prove that it would, for that's not a
question of taste, like the color or finish. In my stores we make it a
rule to give way to the customer on little matters. That makes him feel
good tempered, don't you know, and it's easy then for us to win our
point on something important if its necessary to getting the order."

"I saw in one of the Sunday papers," remarked Jones, "an editorial which
said to give way on little things, and you will gain the big ones."

"That's about the idea," replied Mr. Field. "I think that's very well

There was one other point that Mr. Field brought out, and one on which I
was not certain whether he was right or not--the advisability of showing
better class goods all the time. He said that if he had a store like
mine he would want to offer solid silver goods during the Christmas
trade for presents, and nice cases of cutlery.

"Don't you know," he said, "that people in this town buy those nice
things? If you go into the better-class homes you will find beautiful
silverware, and cut-glass, and expensive cutlery, and all that kind of
thing; but they don't buy them in the town because your business men
seem afraid to stock up on really good stuff like that. When folks want
that good stuff, they have to go to the big cities for it."

"Think of the money it runs into, though," I said.

"Yes, but think of the extra profit you make by it."

"Huh," interjected Larsen, "that sounds nice, 'extra profit.' Suppose
you don't sell the goods! There you are flat on your back, with a lot of
expensive silverware and things on your chest!"

We laughed at Larsen. When order was restored, Mr. Field said:

"With a little maneuvering it is possible to get such goods on
consignment. We make a point, in all my stores, of offering the best
goods we have to the customer. It's easier to come down than to go up,
don't you know. I know a store in a small town, that never used to sell
pocket-knives for more than fifty cents. They told me they didn't think
it possible to sell anything more expensive, there, forgetting that
there was a lot of money there. A salesman one day got them to put in a
line of pocket-knives selling, retail, up to $2.00 each. They were
afraid of them, in spite of the salesman's confidence that they could
sell them, if they showed them so the salesman finally agreed to send
them a lot on consignment. That was--let me see--a couple of years ago.
When I was in the town a few days ago, I was talking with the owner of
that store and he told me that now they very seldom sell anything less
than 50 cents, and that their average price for pocket-knives is a
dollar to a dollar and a quarter. He said they sell a lot of them up as
high as $3.50 each, and they sell more knives now than ever they did
when they carried only cheap ones."

A buzz went around the store from my little force as this fact sunk
home. Then Mr. Field sat down, and we broke into hearty applause.

Larsen got up, before we closed, and suggested a vote of thanks to Mr.
Field for his most instructive talk, which suggestion was followed out;
and the meeting then adjourned.

I felt that it was a mighty good thing to have an outsider come in and
talk like that, and I decided to try to get some people to do it. Barlow
was a mighty clever man, but I thought some of these little stunts I was
pulling off were better than anything he could think of.



The next day I called on a number of people in the town that I knew and
some that I didn't know, with the Cincinnati pencil sharpener.

I had delivered the eighteen, that Downs sold, when they arrived, and
since then I had sold only one other. I had begun to wonder whether I
had done right in buying that eighteen extra, for the Cincinnati man
evidently had sold pretty well all the people in town who wanted pencil
sharpeners--or so it seemed to me.

I plugged hard all day,--and sold one sharpener! I started off soon
after nine o'clock and made my first call on Jerry Mills, who was a
certified public accountant. We knew each other very well, so I got
right down to business when I went into his office, and said:

"Jerry, I want to sell you a pencil sharpener. It's a dandy, and I know
you'll like it," and then I brought out the Cincinnati.

"Glad to see you, old man," replied Jerry, "but I've already got a
pencil sharpener. I bought it in Chicago, when I was there some time
ago. Very similar to yours, isn't it? Well, how's business?" and we then
drifted into general talk.

I spent about half an hour with him; but, of course, as he already had a
pencil sharpener, I couldn't sell him another one.

My next call was on Dunn, who ran a clothing store. I knew Dunn by
sight, but I didn't think he knew me. I walked up the three flights and
back to the rear of the building, and stopped in front of the railing of
his office. I waited for two or three minutes, and then a boy came in
and asked me what I wanted.

"I want to see Mr. Dunn," I said.

"What about?" asked the youngster, rather impudently.

"You tell him I'm--" and then I hesitated, and I said to myself that I
wouldn't tell him I was Dawson Black. "Tell him that a salesman from
Dawson Black wants to see him."

A minute or two later the boy returned. "Mr. Dunn says whatdeyuh want
ter see him for?"

"Tell him I want to show him a new pencil sharpener that we have just
got the agency for." I was a little bit exasperated.

The young demon grinned and said, "A'right," in a funny manner, marched
into the private office and returned, it seemed without pausing, saying:
"Nuttin' doin'."

I hesitated as to what to do, when he added:

"'Tain't no use. Boss got a grouch on this mornin'."

I remembered the rude reception I had given the Cincinnati pencil
sharpener man when he called on me, and the way he had come back at me,
and I said to myself that, if I could only see Dunn then I'd give him
the same kind of medicine. While I stood there wondering what to do, my
wish was gratified, for Dunn's door flew open, and out he came
hurriedly. He was short, stout, red-faced man, almost bald, and has
bristling red whiskers.

"Oh, Mr. Dunn!" I called.

He turned around and snapped:

"What do you want?"

"I am from Dawson Black's--"

"Oh, I know all about that. We don't want any pencil sharpeners. Didn't
the boy tell you?"

"Yes, but--"

"Then what the devil are you waiting for?"

I gulped and replied, "Nothing." He turned and walked away.

Let me confess it. I was afraid of him! I hate to admit it, but I was. I
went down the stairs, feeling like a naughty boy who had been
spanked--and yet he was altogether in the wrong! That little experience
gave me a lot of sympathy for traveling salesmen, and also made me
realize that those salesmen who called on me were bigger men than I was.
And I realized that Dunn was a bigger man than I was, in spite of his
rudeness. I could no more have answered his insolence, the way Downs
answered mine, than I could have flown to the moon.

That reception knocked most of the heart out of me, and I wasn't very
cheerful when I called on Blickens, the president of the bank. I picked
him out because I figured that, at least, he would be civil to me.

When I told him what I had come for, he said:

"We have several of those around here, but--send one around." He put his
hand in his pocket and passed me a dollar bill. I thanked him and
retired, but I knew in my heart that he didn't want one, and that he had
given me the order just to get rid of me, without offending me or
hurting my feelings, because I was a depositor in the bank. I felt like
a panhandler.

And that was the result of my morning's work. It was getting along
toward twelve o'clock, so I went home for lunch.

I made only two calls in the afternoon, both on people I knew. In each
case they said they would be glad to buy one if it would help me, but
really they--dash it all, I didn't want people to buy things of me just
to help me! So I told them I didn't want them to have it, and I'm afraid
I was very bad tempered.

When I got back to the store, Larsen asked:

"Well, Boss, how did you make out?"

"Oh," I replied, "I haven't been very busy. I only sold one. But I
haven't really worked very much. I've been kind of doing some visiting."
And I felt all the time that Larsen knew I was lying to him, for I
certainly did work hard, and I felt more nervously tired that night than
I had been for a long while.

I told Betty about my experiences. "Poor boy! Never mind, boy dear," she
said, "forget it now. Take off your shoes and I'll bring your slippers
for you." She brought me my slippers and my old meerschaum pipe, which
she had filled, and placed it between my teeth, and lit a match for me,
and then sat on the floor beside me. It was fine to have a wife like
Betty to buck me up! She certainly gave me back my self-respect.

Never again would I be rude to the fellow who called on me at my store.
I wish every store owner would try the work I did that day. I think
there'd be more kindliness and courtesy in the relationship between
buyer and salesman. Barlow was a kind-hearted man, but even he wasn't
always courteous when he was busy or didn't want to talk to a salesman.

As I was leaving the house the next morning Betty asked me:

"Boy dear, did you read this little booklet?" It was the booklet which
Downs had left me. I had forgotten all about it. Going down to the
store, I glanced at it, and realized then, that my methods had all been
wrong, and that probably I had been to blame for my failure the day

For instance, it said: "The name of the firm and of yourself are of
secondary importance in selling the Cincinnati pencil sharpener. It is
what it will do that counts. When calling on a prospect, don't say, 'Can
I sell you a pencil sharpener?' but ask him to lend you a pencil and
tell him you will show him how he can keep it pointed easily and make it
last longer." And then it went on to explain how to demonstrate the
device. "In brief," it said, "show the prospect how the sharpener
works--for preference get him to sharpen a pencil for himself; and then,
when he once sees how easily it operates, he is more than half sold.
Then talk about the price."

And I had done just the opposite! I first of all had told where I was
from, then that I wanted to sell them a pencil sharpener, and I hadn't
demonstrated it at all! I realized when I read the book that the trouble
was that they had made up their minds not to buy before I had a chance
of telling them what it was. I decided to try again, following the
suggestions in the book and see if it worked any better.

One good point I learned from the book, which I put on the schedule for
the next Monday's meeting, was that a salesman should always get the
customer to see for himself how a thing works--that, when you get him
to handle it, it helps to make the sale. Thinking of this reminded me of
the time when Betty's kid sister had visited us. I had asked her if she
would like to have a doll, and she had said yes, but she hadn't seemed
particularly keen over it. Then I had pointed one out to her when we
were passing Riley's store--he ran a stationery store, and sold dolls,
school supplies, and toys as well--and she had thought it was a nice
doll, but I had had no difficulty in getting her to come to the office
with me first. But later on, when I took her into Riley's and she had
got a big doll in her arms, I couldn't take it away from her to get it
wrapped up! No, sir-ree, she had just hung tight to her doll, and
nothing could induce her to part with it, and she had carried it away
without having it wrapped.

Now, that was interesting, wasn't it? When I had just spoken to her
about the doll, her interest was only mild. When she had seen it her
interest was a little stronger. But when she actually had got it into
her hands her desire was uncontrollable. I could see how the same idea
would work out in selling goods to customers. If we simply told them
about the goods, there would be only a passive interest. If we pointed
the article out to them in the case, it might be stronger, but still not
strong enough to make a sale. But if we put the article right into the
customer's hands and told him to see for himself how it worked I could
readily see how it was going to make the desire to buy much greater than
anything else could.

I remembered, too, how Weissman, one of our neighbors, had been talking
for a long, long time about buying an automobile, but had never reached
the point of actually paying out the money for it. Well, a friend took
him out in a car one day and showed him how to drive it, and Weissman
came back so keen about having a car that he ordered one the same day,
with instructions to have it shipped rush!

We'll adopt that idea as a rule at our next Monday night's meeting.

A day or two later, I again tried my hand at selling pencil
sharpeners--and I sold five! The fellow that wrote that little book on
how to sell Cincinnati pencil sharpeners had known what he was talking
about, all right.

The first man I struck was Blenkhorn, who ran the meat market. He was
considered the meanest man in town. I had make up my mind to start with
a good, tough customer, because I wanted to give the new plan a thorough
test, and I felt that if I could sell to a tough one I could sell to
anybody. Well, the toughest customer I could think of was Blenkhorn, so
I started on him. You see, I had my courage back.

Well, I went into his store. Blenkhorn nodded to me. "Hello, Black," he

"Hello, Mr. Blenkhorn," I returned. "How many pencils do you use in a
year here?"

"Pencils? I don't know, I'm sure, but I think my people eat 'em. I'm
everlastingly buying 'em."

"Suppose I could tell you a way to make them last about twice as long."

"H'm! If you can tell me how to make these people more careful with
pencils, I'll be mighty glad to know it."

"Well, I'll show you," and here I put my sharpener on the counter. "You
know," I said, "when a man sharpens a pencil what a lot of wood and
lead he cuts away?"

"Cuts away? Why, here they hack 'em all to pieces! But what's that

"I'll show you. Just lend me a pencil." He passed over a pencil that
looked as if the wood at the end had been bitten off, instead of cut

Blenkhorn was watching my actions rather curiously. I put the pencil in
the sharpener, gave it two or three turns, and out it came with the
point nicely rounded and sharpened.

"You notice," I said, "that it didn't cut away any of the lead at all,
only the wood."

"H'm," he returned, and then he walked away and came back with a half a
dozen more pencils. "Let's see it sharpen some more."

"Go ahead, try it yourself, Mr. Blenkhorn."

I held the outfit firmly and he sharpened one after the other.

"H'm," he said again. "How much is that thing?"

"Only a dollar."

"You can buy a lot of pencils for a dollar," he mused.

"That's true," I replied, "but you'll save a lot of dollars by the use
of this." I had got that from the chapter in the booklet headed:
"Answers to objections."

"Send me one of those, Black," said Blenkhorn. "I'll try it."

"Thank you, Mr. Blenkhorn," I said. "By the way, do you want any
butcher's supplies now. I have some mighty good knives."

"No, I have all of those I want. Oh, the missis did tell me to go down
to Stigler's to buy a good short-handled ax for splitting kindling."

"I'll save you the trouble and send it down for you, right away."

"How much are they worth?"

"Dollar and a half."

"The last one I got cost me only a dollar."

"How long did it last?"

"Not long. The blamed head kept coming off."

"Well, I'll sell you one for $1.50, and guarantee the head won't come
off, and if it does I'll replace it for you free of charge."

Without further words, he went to the cash register, took out $2.50 and
handed it to me, saying with a grin:

"You're right after business, aren't you, Black? Good luck to you."

Well, I found that this method worked well, and I sold five sharpeners
during the day--six in fact, for when I got back to the store I found
that they had sold two more, and one of them had been to Blakely, the
lawyer, on whom I had called earlier in the day, and who had said he
might get one later on. Evidently he had changed his mind, and dropped
into the store when he was passing by. In addition to the sale of the
sharpeners, I had sold $11.00 worth of other things. That was going
some, wasn't it?

And to think, if it hadn't been for that little book, I would never have
started the plan!

Well, we all seemed to have the pencil sharpener craze, and I was glad
of it, and determined to push pencil sharpeners all I could, if only as
a kind of thank-you for their putting me onto a new channel of getting

I met Barlow as I was coming home. I told him what I had done, and how I
had got the order for the ax which Stigler would have had. He laughed
heartily at that, and said he was very glad to hear it.

"I think you're going to make a real big man yet, Dawson," he said. "Is
Stigler still hurting you with his mark-down prices?"

"Yes, he is," I confessed. "But I think I've got a plan that's going to
put it all over him."

"What's that?"

"I'm going to start using trading stamps."

"What-at!" he said, in a surprised tone.

"Yes," I continued. "The man was to have come last Thursday; but he had
to leave town Wednesday night, and he wired me that he was coming up
to-morrow, and I'm going to take them up."

Barlow stopped short in the street, swung me around until I was facing
him, and said in a stern tone:

"Young man, do you know what a fool thing you are trying to do?"

"Fool thing nothing!" I returned. "And I don't see how you are able to
judge that." I rather felt that he was butting in where he had no

"You're right," he said, "it's no concern of mine at all. But for
heaven's sake, lad, think twice before you tangle yourself up with
anything like that."



When I told Fellows about my trading stamp idea, he suggested that I
think over the question once more, before taking them up, and he asked
if he could be present at the interview when the Garter trading stamp
man came around.

It was hard to tell what to do. I thought trading stamps were a good
thing; but Fellows of the Flaxon Advertising Agency apparently didn't
like them, and Barlow didn't either. When I talked it over with Betty,
first she said, "Don't touch them at all," then she said, "I don't know,
try them!" Finally she said she didn't know what to think of them. The
decision was, after all, up to me and no one seemed to know much about

Well, I agreed to think it over again, and when Bulder, the Garter
trading stamp man, came, I put him off until the next day. Fellows was
going to be there when he came, and I thought I'll let those two have it
out and put my money on the winner.

Stigler was up to a new dodge.

Until the first of the month there had been a small men's furnishing
store next door to me. Well, Dorman, who ran the store, had ended by
running it to the wall. Poor fellow, he'd been in that location for over
forty years, and at the time was a man of nearly seventy. He never had
done much business, at least not since my knowledge of him, and, towards
the last, the place had been getting seedier and seedier each month, and
finally he had had to give it up. He told the Mater--he knew her quite
well--that he never had made over $20.00 a week in the store, and, after
paying up all his debts, he had less than half the money he had
originally put into the business.

"I'd have been much better off clerking for some one else," he had told
the Mater, "for I would have saved a little money. As it is, here I am,
three score and ten, and, if I live two years more, I'll have to go to
the poorhouse, I suppose."

Old Dorman had made me think pretty seriously when he got out. I was
wondering how many more small storekeepers were in Dorman's position;
how many of them had bungled along from year to year, making a bare
existence; I hoped I could do better than that! It had made me feel the
need of not only keeping up-to-date, but up-to-to-morrow in business
ideas. I remembered what Barker, the big hardware man in Boston, had
said to me when I asked him why there were so many little stores, after
he had mentioned that there were a lot of little stores which were not
represented in the association.

"The reason," he returned, with a sad shake of his head, "is that the
men who run them are little. They wear blinkers all their lives. Their
outlook is extremely narrow. They never grasp what is going on around
them. They don't keep up to date in their ideas and methods of doing
business. They never grow, but remain little all their lives."

But I started in to tell what it was that Stigler did. That afternoon,
to my surprise, I saw him in Dorman's empty store with a carpenter,
measuring the floor space. When he came out I was on the doorstep
bidding good-by to Betty, who had dropped into the store to remind me
that I was to take home some cheap kitchen knives.

"Hello, Black," called Stigler, as he came out of the store. At the same
time his lips gave that contemptuous curl which always got under my

"Hello, yourself, Stigler," I replied.

"Well," he said, stopping for a minute in front of me, "you and me's
going to be pretty close neighbors, Black, ain't we?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I've just rented old Dorman's store. You know, I think there's room in
this town for a good five-and-ten-cent store, specializing on kitchen
goods. This looked like a good location to me, so I'm just going to try
it out. Open up the first of the month."

"Fine," I said. "Good luck to you!" putting as much heartiness into my
tone as I could. And then I went into the store before my rage, and let
me say, anxiety, should show themselves to Stigler.

"Gee whitakins!" I thought. "A five-and-ten-cent store, next door to me,
specializing in kitchen goods, and run by Stigler!"

I knew, without his saying a word about it, that he was opening that
store with the money he had just inherited from a brother out West, and
that he was doing it just to try "to run me off my feet," as he had
expressed it before.

I think I did the best thing I could possibly have done under the
circumstances, for I went right over to Barlow's. Barlow had told me
repeatedly that, any time I needed help, I should go right to him. I
certainly felt that I needed the advice of an old war-horse like he was.
Somehow the fact that he was a bit old-fashioned and staid in his ways
made him appear a rock of comfort to me.

I told him the whole story, and he certainly looked grave.

"What can I do?" I asked anxiously. "I haven't the money to fight him.
He is cutting into my profits very much as it is. Would you advise me to
make a big display of five-and-ten-cent goods before he has a chance to
open the store?"

"When is he going to get started?"

"Well, he said he was going to open by the first of the month."

I think for five minutes Barlow said nothing, but just see-sawed
backward and forward on his swivel chair.

"What ratio would cheap kitchen goods bear to your total sales?" he
finally asked.

"I don't know what you mean."

"I mean, suppose you sell a hundred dollars' worth of goods, how many
dollars' worth of that would be in five- ten- and fifteen-cent

"I can't tell you that."

"Surely you have some idea as to whether the cheap goods are the ones
that sell best in your store?"

"Well, I'm sure I don't know."

Some of those old-timers' were pretty shrewd fellows after all. I had
never thought of analyzing my sales in that way.

"Tell you what to do," he said. "Find out what proportion you are
buying of five- ten- and fifteen-cent kitchen goods, and how much of the
better-class goods."

"What then?" I inquired, still in the dark.

"If your big sales are on the cheaper goods, I would advise you to make
a window display of half cheap and half good articles. Put a sign in the
window to the effect that you have cheap articles to sell, and good ones
to use. If you find your sales are mostly on the better-class goods, I
would advise you to start an educational advertising campaign, if you
can afford it."

"What is an educational advertising campaign?"

"It means advertising the better-class goods and giving reasons and
facts why they are better than the cheaper ones. Advertise that you have
the low-priced articles, but, if they want the cheapest, the _best_ is
the cheapest in the end. For instance, here is a ten-cent Dover
egg-beater. I have one here, a glass affair, which sells at a dollar.
Actually, I am selling almost as many of the dollar egg-beaters as I do
of the ten-cent ones."


"Because I show them that the ten-cent egg-beaters cannot last very
long--they can't expect a ten-cent article to do that--but this glass
one will last indefinitely; it is more sanitary; the tinning on it is
very heavy and it won't rust; it is cleaner, more serviceable, easier to
work," and then he gave me half a dozen more facts about that dollar
egg-beater which I would never have thought of. "If you were buying an
egg-beater," he continued with a smile, "which would you buy now?"

"Buy the best one unquestionably, because I can see, after what you
have told me, that the other isn't to be compared with it!"

"Exactly. And if you tell those facts to your trade, they will buy the
better article in just the same way."

"Then, if I am selling more of the better-class goods than the cheaper
ones, you would advise me to give Stigler the cheap business--give up
the fight for it?"

"No," he returned with a smile. "Don't give up the fight, but fight him
in a way that will hurt him most. That is, to educate the people away
from the cheap goods."

"I see! Kind o' put him out of business by killing the demand for his

"That's the idea, and it sounds easy if you say it quickly. Candidly,"
he said, "I don't think it will hurt your business much. I wouldn't,
personally, mind another hardware store opening next to me, particularly
if they played the game according to Hoyle."

"But Stigler won't do it!" I cried.

Betty agreed with Barlow that the thing to do was to try to develop the
sale for the better-class articles. "For," said she, "if a woman buys a
ten-cent egg-beater, you make three cents profit on it. If she buys a
dollar egg-beater, you make over thirty cents profit on it, and the sale
of one of those dollar articles is about equal to a dozen of the cheap

"By Jove, you're right!" I exclaimed. "Perhaps Stigler's latest move to
'run me off my feet' may be the petard which will hoist him off his own;
at any rate, as regards his five-and-ten-cent venture."

Naturally, I could think of nothing but Stigler and five-and-ten-cent
competition, and finally I had an idea. This idea was awfully
simple--unless it proved to be simply awful.

There were in Farmdale about a dozen stores to rent. I had no thought of
renting them; but I was going to see the landlords of those places and
see what they would charge me to rent the _windows_ for a week! and then
I'd ask Barlow to let me hire his men for an evening to trim each of
those windows with the better-class kitchen goods, and then I'd put a
big sign in each window something like this: "If you want kitchen goods
that wear, you'll find them at Dawson Black's." I'd have smart little
talking signs worked up and put on the goods, saying why they were
better than cheap articles, and asking customers to come to my store at
32 Hill Street, and we would demonstrate why it paid to get the best.
"It pays to get the best." That was to be the slogan, and I would print
it on the bottom of all price tickets and talking signs!

I began to feel rather pleased that Stigler was starting that
five-and-ten-cent store next to me! It seemed to have shaken me into
action. I believed that, with a good window display in those empty
stores for a week, I could work up a lot of business and get a lot of
valuable publicity into the bargain.

When I mentioned the idea to Betty, she didn't say anything for a few
seconds, and then she said very demurely:

"Dawson, you can have two more buckwheat cakes this morning."



Bulder, the Garter trading stamp man, called according to arrangement.

"_Good_ morning, Mr. Black," he said heartily, as he entered the store.
"Well, I _don't_ think we'll have much difficulty in getting this little
matter fixed up to-day. It is going to mean a _big_ thing for you, and
you can be _quite_ sure that the Garter Trading Stamp Company is going
to be at the back of you to make this thing a _big success_."

He spoke quite confidently, as if he were sure I was going to take them
up. And indeed I had been all along practically decided to adopt them.

"That's fine," I said in response to Bulder's greeting. "I want you,
however, to meet Mr. Fellows, who is waiting in my office." I saw a
faint change take place in Bulder's manner. He seemed at once to become
a little suspicious and on his guard.

"Fellows? Fellows?" he replied. "Oh, one of your men?"

"Well, yes and no," I returned with a laugh. "He is connected with the
Flaxon Advertising Agency and he does all my advertising, and I like to
get the benefits of his ideas."

"Mr. Black," said Bulder, "I am doing this business with you, and while
I am _sure_ that Mr. Fellows is a _mighty_ fine man, you could hardly
expect me to want to talk this matter over with him--at any rate, with
the idea of helping you to decide what to do; for, you see, he is an
advertising man and _naturally_ wants to spend all your appropriation

"Fellows isn't that kind," I replied, somewhat curtly.

Bulder saw that he had been tactless, so he put his hand on my shoulder,
and said, soothingly:

"_That's_ all right, Mr. Black, I was only joking. Glad to talk the
matter over with _any_ friend of yours."

I don't know why it was, but I seemed from that moment to feel a
distrust of him. I had rather liked him before. But now he seemed to me
too suave, too--oh, too fat and easy about it.

Well, we went into my little office and I introduced him to Fellows.

"Our mutual friend, Mr. Black," said Bulder with a smile, "wants me to
talk over with you both the _splendid_ possibilities of his store
through the Garter Trading Stamps. _Good idea._ It shows he is cautious
and has good judgment."

"Mr. Black is quite a busy man, you know, Mr. Bulder," Fellows replied,
"and perhaps don't have time enough always to think over every angle of
a proposition; so he very wisely believes in talking things over and
getting an outside viewpoint. Mr. Black can analyze these problems
himself just as well as you or I can; but he believes in conserving his
time and energies as much as he can."

All this preliminary by-play interested and amused me. But then the real
battle began. Imagine those two--that big, burly, good-natured, somewhat
bulldozing Bulder, and the shrewd, courteous New Englander, Fellows;
Bulder with his heavy, sledge-hammer methods,--the bludgeon method, you
might call it,--and Fellows with his keen, sharp, rapier methods.

Bulder realized at once that Fellows was strongly against the stamps,
and that it was going to be a battle of wits and logic. I had better
confess that my sporting blood was roused, and I had decided that the
fellow who won the argument would have me on his side.

"What do you know about the company?" I asked Fellows, so as to get
things started.

"Not a thing," he said, "but I am sure that that is a matter of minor
importance; for Mr. Bulder is too big a business man to connect himself
with an organization that is not thoroughly sound."

Very neatly put!--and yet I could see that, even if the trading stamp
proposition won, Bulder would still have to prove that his company was
financially and morally sound.

How I wish I could write down in full detail all that was said by both
of them, but I can't remember it all. Bulder started in with a few heavy
blows by stating that the Garter trading stamps gave the merchant who
handled them a decided advantage over his competitors; for their
splendid premium catalog, their numerous supply stations, the fact that
they would let me have a set of representative premiums for window
display, the excellent line of advertising matter which he said was part
of the service which I bought from them at the time I bought their
stamps. . . . "You _quite_ understand, Mr. Black," he said laboriously,
"that you are not buying _just_ trading stamps from us, or trading
tokens as we prefer to call them, but you are buying a merchandising
service--you are buying _all_ the selling ideas and helps which we can
give you, besides the _splendid_ backing which the name of Garter stamps
gives you.

"And," he continued to Fellows, for he knew that Fellows was the
opposition and not I, "when Mr. Black takes up our agency, _no_ other
hardware man in town will be able to get it. . . . In fact," he said,
with a sudden burst of generosity, "so that there will be absolutely no
question of full protection and no competition, we will not _even_
supply a glass and china store, a five-and-ten-cent store, a cutlery
store, or a novelty store--in fact, _any_ other store which might
compete with him in _any_ way.

"Thus, you see, I am offering you something, Mr. Black," he said with an
ingratiating smile, "which is a _wonderful_ advantage to you. It will
really put _your_ store in a class by itself."

"Fine!" broke in Fellows, before I could say anything. "A thought has
just occurred to me, however. While you promise that no other hardware
man shall have the _Garter_ stamps, can you promise that no _other_
trading stamp concern will offer stamps to any other hardware man in

Bidder replied with a deprecating smile: "What other concerns are there
of our importance and size?"

Fellows came back with the names of two concerns which were better known
to me than the Garter trading stamp.

"Why, yes," drawled Bulder, "of course, they _might_ offer stamps to
some other hardware man. But, my dear sir, think a minute--what are the
value of _their_ stamps compared to _ours_? Why, my good friend, you
_can't_ compare them! Every woman in town knows that Garter stamps have
a higher premium value than _any_ others."

"Exactly," replied Fellows. "By the way, what other stores have you in
this town at present?"

Bulder slowly turned until he was facing Fellows. Leaning his elbow on
the desk, he asked:

"Didn't I tell you that I was giving Mr. Black the opportunity to reap
the _big benefit_ of being the first with our stamps here?"

"That's funny!" I broke in impetuously, but a look from Fellows stopped
me. I had been going to say that I didn't see how his last two remarks
gibed; for in one breath he had said that every woman in town knew that
Garter trading stamps were better, and in the next he had said that I
was to reap the first big benefit of having the stamps.

Fellows had leaned forward and was saying to Bulder:

"Mr. Bulder, do you really believe it is good business to offer
something for nothing?"

"Surely," cried Bulder, "you are not going to bring up that worn-out
argument? Everybody knows that it is not something for nothing. . . .
Look here, my good friend," said he, turning to me, "if you buy some
goods and pay cash you _expect_ a discount for paying cash, don't you?"

"Yes," I replied hesitatingly.

"_Surely_ you do! And if you didn't get the discount for cash, you would
take all the credit you could, _wouldn't_ you? . . . Very well," he
continued, without waiting for a reply, "that's what our stamps will
do. They are not something for nothing. They are merely a discount for
cash. People that don't pay cash don't get the stamps. . . ."

Then he went on to tell me about some stores which had changed from a
credit basis to cash through the use of Garter stamps. In my imagination
I saw Fellows being driven into a corner by Bulder's bludgeon, his
rapier beaten down and his defenses gone.

Fellows kept trying to work a word in edgewise, but Bulder, by the
continued force of his words, beat down all Fellows' attempts to break
in. Finally Bulder leaned back and said:

"Surely you are not going to stick to your foolish idea that trading
stamps _are_ something for nothing. _All_ sensible people know that no
one can give something for nothing and live, and I trust that the
trading stamp concerns are sensible people. It is merely a cash

"Why couldn't I give a cash discount, instead?" I asked--and as soon as
I said it I was sorry I had, because I noticed a look of annoyance in
Fellows' face.

"That is a _very_ sensible question," said Bulder. "Because if you did
give the cash discount yourself it would be so _trifling_ that the
people would not realize it was of any advantage to them. If somebody
comes in and spends a dollar with you, and you give them two cents
discount, what is it to them? It is nothing at all! But if you give them
_trading stamps_, those have a _real_ value in their eyes."

"Then why couldn't I give trading stamps of my own--just have them
printed and give them out?"

"Because _every_ trading stamp concern in the country could beat you on
the value of _your_ premiums. Think of the _tremendous_ buying power
that we have. It would be _absolutely_ impossible for you to give
trading stamps of your own and have _any_ chance with competition. Now,
I don't think for a moment that you are not as keen a business man as
the next fellow, but the big concerns realize that it is
_specialization_ that means success, and we have simply specialized in
this one branch of marketing to help _you_ fellows do something which
you could do yourselves, but not _nearly_ so effectively or cheaply as
we can. Do you think the big department stores up and down the country
would have trading stamps from us if they _could_ handle them as cheaply
themselves? No, of _course_ not!"

"Well," here broke in Fellows quietly, "I may be mistaken, but I believe
that trading stamps are an outgrowth of inefficiency and laziness on the
part of retail merchants. Of course, the people who sell trading stamps
get value for their money, but the retailer and the consumer both pay
for it. The retailer pays for it by losing, let us say, three per cent.
on each turn-over of his stock investment. Suppose Mr. Black here turns
his stock over five times a year, he is really paying fifteen per cent.
of his investment to you people for something which you must admit is
not exclusively his. Do you think it is possible for a retail merchant
to continue that and live? If it is, he might spend that fifteen per
cent. in increasing the quality of his store service rather than to pay
it to an outside organization to supply a substitute for it. One thing
is sure--no merchant can pay fifteen per cent. on his investment and
stand that expenditure himself. If he handles the stamps, why, up go his
prices, wherever he can manage it, to make the consumer pay for them.

"I am sure you will agree with me that in the end it is the consumer who
pays the freight. This whole proposition looks to me like selling a man
a sack of flour, and then making him pay for the sack of flour and a
half dozen collars or a pair of suspenders besides. He doesn't want
those collars or suspenders, mind you, but they are included with the
purchase price, and, whether he takes them or not, he has to pay for

Bulder leaned back with a patronizing air. "My young friend," he said to
Fellows, "you talk _very_ interestingly, but the things you say are
_mere_ generalities. You have not given a _single_ concrete fact showing
where the trading stamps would hurt our friend here, while I have
_already_ given Mr. Black a _number_ of cases, which he can easily
verify for himself, of merchants who _have_ improved their business by
trading stamps.

"My proposition to Mr. Black is that he tries the stamps for a year, and
if he does not find"--and here he tapped the table impressively with his
fingers--"if he does not find that they have _actually_ increased his
business, why then we will call the deal off. We will risk--_gladly_
risk--all the _heavy_ expenditures of working with Mr. Black. We will
risk the lost prestige to ourselves of having a dealer give up our
_splendid_ offer; and I do this, Mr. Fellows, because I _know_ from past
experience--not from mere theories--that Garter stamps will mean an
_increased profit_ to Mr. Black."

"Would you supply any other line of business in this town, Mr. Bulder?"
asked Fellows quietly.

"Certainly, my young friend. Because by doing so it would _help_ Mr.
Black. Don't you see that, if one hardware man, and one druggist, and
one dry goods store, and so on, had our stamps, _all_ those merchants
would be in a class by themselves? It would make them the _leading_
merchants in the town, for people would trade with them so that they
could collect the Garter stamps."

"I see," returned Fellows quietly. "And the man who gets stamps here
from Mr. Black would be able to buy, let us say, a hat or some china
ornaments through you people, which would, incidentally, deprive the
local men's furnishing store or china store of the sale of those
articles. And, of course, that same man might get trading stamps from
other stores, and with those stamps he could buy a pocketknife through
you people, and thus take the sale of that pocketknife away from Mr.

Bulder waved the question aside as though not worth bothering with. "My
dear man," he asserted, "the people who get things for those trading
stamps get things they would not buy otherwise. That is surely a _very_
trivial contention."

Fellows looked at me and said:

"Black, I have no reason to take any more of yours or Mr. Bulder's
valuable time, as I see nothing else to say except that I strongly
advise against the adoption of this or any other trading stamp or
profit-sharing scheme which you do not control yourself. Of course, a
few merchants in a town can get together and run this trading stamp
system, whereby your stamps are accepted for cash in other stores and
other stores' stamps are accepted for cash in your own, and by that
system there might possibly be some benefit in the trading stamps. But
I believe that any merchant who uses trading stamps--and I do not refer
to your excellent company, Mr. Bulder--is merely building up business
for some outside organization. He is merely diverting some of his own
profits into the pockets of the trading stamp concerns, which do not
really build up any business at all; because, if the stamps prove
successful for one merchant, it will not be long before other merchants
take them up and then every one is giving profits to the trading stamp
concerns without any of them getting any real benefit from it. I believe
the use of trading stamps is more or less an admission of inability to
think up plans of getting business for oneself."

Bulder smiled. He was once again the acme of courtesy.

"That argument of yours _sounds_ excellent, Mr. Fellows," he said
suavely. "Excellent! But why not apply it to _your_ business? Why not
say that if one merchant advertises, _all_ merchants will advertise and
thus the benefits of advertising are nullified?"

Fellows was once again beaten down, I thought. He was plainly stumped
for a few seconds. Then he replied:

"There is something in what you say, Mr. Bulder. But with trading stamp
competition every one is offering merely trading stamps. There is no
particular difference between them, and one offers no material advantage
over another. But advertising is different. You yourself admit that, and
appreciate the benefits of advertising, for in your own printed
matter"--and here he held some of it up--"you advise the merchant to
advertise the trading stamp proposition, 'thus'"--he quoted from a
folder--"'tying up the prestige of the Garter trading stamps with the
local merchant's own store.'

"Now, while in trading stamps there is no apparent difference, with
advertising one can express one's personality and character, which
trading stamps never do. There are so many ways in which one may
advertise: newspapers, billboards, booklets, form letters, street car
signs; and you can make your advertising such that it will be better
than your competitors'. But trading stamps are trading stamps and
nothing more. The story of advertising is as varied as language itself.
With advertising you can vary the appeal so that it always has a
freshness which trading stamps must soon lose."

Bulder was plainly perturbed.

"I claim," he said heavily, "just the _same_ distinction, that _same_
personality--why, the very _dress_ of our trading stamps is an
advertisement, just as is the design on those Kleen-Kut tools I see
displayed there. They are well-known, they are recognized by the
trademark, and that is their individuality. Our trading stamp has the
_same_ individuality--it has our peculiar design and trademark."

"I am unconvinced," said Fellows, shaking his head with finality. "Your
arguments sound excellent, but the fact remains that once a dealer takes
on trading stamps it is difficult for him to get rid of them. People
come in and ask for the stamps--"

"Good night!" I thought. Bulder was quick to respond.

"Of _course_ they come and ask for the stamps. And if we offer these
stamps to other dealers, and then people come to Mr. Black and _ask_
him for them, and find he doesn't have them, won't that _hurt_ Mr.
Black? Won't they say that Mr. Black isn't as _progressive_ as other
people? If the people _demand_ trading stamps, it is up to Mr. Black to
give them, for, if he is not progressive enough to do so, he will
_drive_ them to some other store."

"I take strong exception to your words," said Fellows evenly. "I don't
appreciate your slur on the 'progressiveness' of my--of Mr. Black."

"I _beg_ Mr. Black's pardon. I spoke hastily. But you must admit, Mr.
Black, that the unreasonableness of your friend _is_ exasperating."

Fellows ignored the last remark. Apparently to no one, he mused:

"I remember in the little town of Wakeford some of the merchants there
got this trading stamp 'bug.' First one got it, then another, and then
they were all giving trading stamps--that is, all those who did any real
business. And then one of them thought he would steal a march on the
others, and began giving double trading stamps on Saturday. In two weeks
they were all giving double trading stamps on Saturday. It has got so
now that they are giving double stamps every Friday and triple stamps on
Saturday! I suppose before long they'll be all giving double stamps
every day of the week. Pretty tough on those merchants, isn't it?"

Bulder looked at Fellows with some amazement in his face, for Fellows'
remarks were not apparently addressed to either of us; he was gazing
through the window of the door leading into the store.

"Pretty tough on those merchants," Fellows continued, "because, when
they give double trading stamps, they increase their percentage of cost
on their capital from 15 to 30 per cent. assuming they have a 5 times
turnover. Of course it's all right for the trading stamp concerns,
because the more stamps that are sold, the more profit they make.

"By the way, Mr. Bulder, do you sell stamps in Wakeford?"

"Why, yes, we do sell some," was the reluctant response.

I saw the point at once, and instantly I made up my mind that I would
not take the chance of being drawn into a war of giving trading stamps
away in competition with other stores, and I quietly told Bulder that we
were merely wasting time now, that I had definitely decided not to touch
the proposition at all.

Bulder shrugged his shoulders. "I am _sorry_ that you let this
opportunity go by. But _please_ don't come to us in a few months' time
and ask to do business with us, for we shall _unquestionably_ close with
some other hardware store before I leave town to-day."

He was once more the suave and polished man of the world. He shook hands
pleasantly with us, cracked a joke or two, and left the store,
apparently in the best of humor.

Hardly had he gone out when Fellows went to the telephone and called up
Mr. Barlow. I don't know what Barlow said, but I heard Fellows say:

"This is Fellows of the Flaxon Advertising Agency. I am at Dawson
Black's. We have just had the Garter Trading Stamp man here. You knew
that Black was thinking of taking up the trading stamp proposition.
Well, he has turned it down cold. I thought you might like to know, in
case they came to you with a different story."

There was a meeting of the Merchants' Association that evening--I didn't
tell you that I had joined sometime before. As I entered the meeting
room, Barlow came to me and told me that Bulder had been to see him, and
had told him that I was interested in his proposition but he felt that
Barlow would be the better man for them to work with.

Barlow brought the matter of trading stamps up for discussion at the
meeting, and it was decided that no member of the association should
handle them.

"What would we do if some merchants in the town, who are not members of
the association, should take them on?" I asked.

I saw a twinkle in Barlow's eye, for he knew I was thinking of Stigler,
who was not a member of the organization.

"I should think," said Wimple, who was the president, "that we had
better not try to cross that bridge until we come to it. The leading
merchants belong to the association, and I question very much whether
the fact that some small store might handle the stamps would have any
effect upon us, one way or the other."

I hoped and believed that we had killed trading stamps so far as our
town was concerned, but I determined that, if ever the question was to
come up again, through some of the others taking up stamps, I would
suggest that idea of Fellows', that we form a trading stamp organization
of our own, which the association could run. In other words, the
Merchants' Association would be the trading stamp concern, and so we
would have any benefits coming from it ourselves.



As soon as possible, I visited the landlords of all the empty stores in
town, and contracted to rent the windows in seven of them for two weeks
beginning the first of October.

Two of the stores I couldn't get because they had been rented for the
first of October; one I didn't go to at all because I remembered,
fortunately, in time, that the landlord was a friend of Stigler's. If I
had told him what I wanted, the probabilities were that Stigler would
have got wind of it and he would somehow have got ahead of me.

The total expense was less than twenty dollars. Two stores I got for
nothing, and I found out that Barlow owned them. The old brick had told
his agent to let me have them for two weeks without any cost. Traglio,
the druggist, let me have the vacant store next door to him, which he
owned, for $2.00 a week, on the understanding that I would not display
any toilet articles, and that I would put a card in the window, at my
own expense, reading: "For toilet articles of all kinds go to
Traglio's." I didn't think that would hurt me any, so I promised to do
it. It cost me $12.00 for the old Bon Marche store, but that was right
opposite the post office, and I thought it well worth the money, because
everybody in town would see the displays there. Besides, they were big
windows. It had been a prosperous store, but Waldron, who ran it, had
lost his money in a big Providence bank failure.

When I had got it all done the question came to me, What am I going to
do for stock? It would be difficult to put a lot of stock in those
windows to make a real display and still have left in the store any of
the lines to sell. I worried over this for some time, and then I wrote
to Hersom, the salesman for Bates & Hotchkin of Boston, the jobbers from
whom I bought the bulk of my general supplies, and told him about my
plan, and asked him if he could help me out. They were pretty decent
people, and while I had to pay a fraction more for the majority of the
goods than if I had bought from the manufacturer it was well worth it to
me, for they looked after me well. As Hersom had told me, the last time
he had called, "We certainly will do all we can for you, because you
give us the bulk of your business." . . .

Coincidences do happen even in a little town. The electric light company
had been making a big campaign in the town, advocating the use of
electricity for lighting, cooking, ironing, etc. The advertising
certainly had made the gas company sit up and take notice, for they had
offered to wire houses for a ridiculously small amount, with easy terms
of payment, and in a large percentage of the houses they had begun to
use electricity instead of gas. For some time I had been thinking of
taking advantage of this fact, and putting in a stock of electric
toasters and grills, perhaps an electric fan or so, and a few electrical
devices like that.

Well, I happened to meet Mrs. Twombley in the street. Mrs. Twombley was
a close friend of the Mater's. She was a widow, like Mater, and they
had been schoolgirls together, and Mrs. Twombley had been one of the
episodes of my father's period of calf love. Mrs. Twombley was a big,
plump, jolly-looking woman, well to do, and she was quite fond of me.
The last time she had been at the house she had said to the Mater, as
she rumpled my hair--she did that every time she came because she knew I
didn't like it--"It was just nip and tuck as to whether I would have
been Dawson's mother, wasn't it?"

She was passing on the other side of the street, and, seeing me, she
frantically waved her umbrella at me--she always carried an umbrella,
whatever the weather might be. I went across to her, and she told me she
wanted a dozen kitchen knives.

"I don't know what Lucy does with them," she said. "I think she must be
engaged to a sword swallower and he is practicing with my knives."

Then she added: "By the way, Dawson, I have never asked you to do
anything for me, have I?"

"No," I replied, wondering what she meant.

"Well, young man, I am going to make a suggestion to you that may cost
you a few dollars. Our fair for Foreign Missions takes place, as you
know, next month, and you are going to help us out."

"In what way?"

"Bless the boy, I don't know! Look around your store and see if there
isn't something you don't want; or else send some things up and give us
a commission for selling them. See what you can do about it." And she
bustled off without waiting for an answer.

And now for the coincidence. When I got back to the store there was an
unusually smart-looking chap waiting to see me. It seemed he
represented the Atlantic Electric Appliance Corporation, and they wanted
me to take the agency for their full line of electric appliances.

"Your line is a good thing, I'm sure," I said to him--Wilkshire was his
name--"but, candidly, I couldn't afford to put in a full supply of those
things, although I was thinking of starting with a few toasters and one
or two things of that kind."

"I can understand, Mr. Black," was his response, "that you couldn't very
well carry the whole line that we have, unless we worked with you on it.
We believe there's a big field in Farmdale for electric
appliances--better than usual on account of what the electric light
company's doing to boost things.

"Our proposition is this: If you will make a special display of
electrical appliances for a week we'll supply you with a full line of
our goods, we'll send a demonstrator to show how they are worked, and we
will go fifty-fifty on any advertising you care to do during that time.

"When the demonstration is over, go ahead and stock up what you think is
necessary, and we'll undertake to supply you with additional stock on
twenty-four hours' time. You are not such a great way from
Hartford"--that was their headquarters--"and, if you order one day, you
can have the goods right here within forty-eight hours at the latest."

Just then the telephone bell rang. Larsen answered it, and I heard him

"Yes, Mrs. Twombley, he's back. I'll tell him."

I went to the 'phone, and she wanted me to be sure not to forget about
helping them out at the fair. "Remember," she reminded me, "it starts
Tuesday, the twelfth of October, and ends the Saturday following."

"Mrs. Twombley," I replied, "an idea has come to me. How would you like
me to supply you with an electrical exhibition?"

"Bless the boy! What do you mean?"

"How would you like me to make a display up there of all kinds of
electrical appliances, with some pretty girls to show everybody how they
work and what they will do?"

"That would be splendid! But there's no electricity in the town hall."

"But suppose I can get electric current run in there specially, what

"My! don't disrupt the town management on my account--but do it if you

"All right. I think I can do it for you."

Well, I talked to Mr. Wilkshire, and told him my idea, and he thought it
was a good one, and said he would personally go and see the electric
light company, because he was accustomed to dealing with that kind of
people, and make arrangements to have wires carried into the town hall
for the exhibition.

He agreed to supply all the equipment needed and to send two
demonstrators from Hartford during the five days of the fair, and that
was to be my contribution to Mrs. Twombley's "pet," as she called
foreign missions; and, at the same time, I would be introducing a new
line of merchandise, under the very best of auspices, to the people of

When I talked to Betty about the electrical exhibition she suggested:

"Why not carry it through a little farther. I read a lot in _Hardware
Times_ about business efficiency. Why don't you try to get efficiency in
the home--give an exhibition of home efficiency?"

I guess the blank expression on my face told her that I didn't follow
her meaning.

"I mean," she said, "along with the electrical devices why not show
carpet sweepers and time-saving kitchen devices, and everything that
will help the woman of the house to greater efficiency in her work, or
give her better results. Make a big exhibition, and call it the domestic
efficiency exhibition."

"That's not a bad idea at all," I replied. I thought a little while.
"Not a bad idea at all." I thought a little bit longer. "It's a bully
good idea!" And I ran right off to call up Mrs. Twombley.

"Mrs. Twombley," I cried, quite excited, "I'm going to do that thing up
good and brown for you. I'm going to make it a household efficiency
exhibition, and we'll have vacuum cleaners and carpet sweepers and
washing machines and kitchen things--"

"Good heavens above!" her voice returned. "Who is this speaking, what is
he speaking about, and has he got the right party?"

When I explained the matter, she said:

"I don't know, I'm sure, but I'll leave it to you--"

"Are you sure," asked Betty, when I came back, "that the electric-supply
people will agree to your selling other things there, when they are
providing the material for the big show?"

"I never thought of that!" I exclaimed. "I guess they won't! No. And I
don't think now it would be fair to them to do it, for, if I want to
sell electrical supplies, it would probably be better not to spread the
attraction over too many things. No, I'll confine myself just to
electrical supplies, so as to make as big an impression with them as I
can, concentrate the people's attention right on them, and give them a
real bang-up start-off.

"That reminds me, Betty. You know those Sisk glass percolators? I'm
going to drop them."

"Why, I thought you were selling so many of them!"

"Yes, I am, but I got a letter from them yesterday telling me that the
discount had been reduced from 40 to 25 per cent., and there's nothing
doing at that price."

"I wish you wouldn't talk such slang."

"What do you mean, slang?"

"Why, 'nothing doing.' I wish you would learn to cut it out. There," she
said vexedly, "I'm catching that bad habit from you!"

To come back to that Sisk percolator. I had been handling it for some
time and doing a good business on it, when a letter had come saying that
on and after that date the discount for Sisk percolators would be
reduced to 25 per cent. As it was costing me about 25 per cent. to do
business, I decided not to handle them after I got rid of what I had,
and I wrote them so right away. You see, I was beginning to study the
relationship of profit to expense, and, unless the things I sold were
showing me a profit, either directly or indirectly, there was nothing
doing on them--I would not bother with them at all. I had told the Sisk
people that perhaps they could find some one else to handle them for
love of the company, but that I would not.

My letter got results, and got them quickly. I had a nice letter from
them stating that they realized that I couldn't handle the goods unless
I made a fair profit on them, and so they had decided to increase the
discount from 25 to 33⅓ per cent. Since they were willing to come up
on the discounts I was quite willing to push the percolators, and I
wrote them and told them so, and sent them an order for half a dozen
more right away.

In the same mail I had an answer from Bates & Hotchkin. Hersom was out
of town; but they said they were glad to help me out, and would send me
enough stuff to fill up the windows and have some left over for the
store, and would I please let them know just what I wanted and they
would send it on consignment right away. It was good to deal with a
concern that would go out of its way to do you favors.

The Mater was at the house that evening, and I was telling about the
Sisk percolator matter. Suddenly she said:

"Really, those Sisk persons are remarkably clever, don't you know! I
believe it was their plan to reduce the discount from 40 to 33⅓ per
cent., and they studied the psychology of the matter and decided
that--and I think you will agree with me, Dawson--that, had they merely
written, in the first place, announcing that the discounts were reduced
from 40 to 33⅓ per cent., their customers would feel annoyed at the
reduction of their profits. But, instead, they reduced the discount to
25 per cent., unquestionably with the purpose of _increasing_ it to
33⅓ per cent., thus leaving with their customers the impression that
the discounts had been increased instead of reduced, going on the
psychological principle that the last impression made upon the mind is
the strongest."

Remarkably clever, I thought! I believed the Mater was right. Because,
even when I knew it, I hadn't any ill feeling against the company.

It was very keen of the Mater to spot it. I had never suspected she was
so shrewd.



The Atlantic Electric Appliance Corporation fixed me up with a dandy
line of electrical goods, and they sent two smart young girls to act as

I had suggested to Wilkshire, the electric appliance salesman, that, in
place of his demonstrators, we should get a couple of local girls to
handle the demonstration. "People will know them," I said, "and they'll
feel more at home with them."

"That is a good idea, Mr. Black," replied Wilkshire. "But don't you
think that a strange face would be a little more attractive, perhaps, in
the town? Of course you know best, but I should think a couple of
smart-looking girls who were thoroughly trained in demonstrating would
attract more attention and more confidence, as a matter of fact, than
local girls would. You see, if some of you society folks should see a
couple of girls that they know, they wouldn't have much confidence in
what they said about electric appliances; but they will listen and take
stock in what a stranger will say to them."

I had got his point at once, and agreed with him that it would be best
to have outsiders do the demonstrating.

Larsen was always a pretty shrewd observer. When Wilkshire left the
store, he said to me:

"Boss, I learned something from that feller."

"Huh," I returned. "I guess he could teach us something at that. Still,
our problems in selling to the consumer are quite different from his in
selling to the trade."

"The same in lots of ways," Larsen remarked. "Did you notice, Boss, he
never say you were wrong? He always say you right and then say something
else better. 'Member it when you talk about them girls."

"That was clever, wasn't it?" I exclaimed. I had not noticed it until
Larsen pointed it out. In fact, I had been rather under the impression
that I had had things pretty much my own way with him, but when I looked
back at our whole conversation I saw that Wilkshire won his own way
right along the line.

"Say, that was fine!" I said, again. "We'll have to adopt that plan
right here in the store, and make it a rule always to agree with what
the customer suggests, tell them it is a good idea, even if it's punk,
and then kind of lead 'em around to doing what we think they ought to

"Yes," joined in Larsen, "just like he--" here he stopped in
embarrassment, so I finished his sentence for him--

"Just like Wilkshire did with me!"

"Oh, well, you know what I mean, Boss."

Well, to get back to the exhibition--it proved to be the feature of the
fair. Those demonstrators were two of the smartest girls I ever saw in
my life. Betty got a bit jealous, and said I was giving too much
attention to the electrical exhibition!

Here's what we sold at the exhibition during the week:

One electric clothes washer, 38 electric toasters, 11 chafing dishes, 14
electric coffee percolators, 1 electric curling iron, 11 electric water
heaters, 3 electric vacuum cleaners and 4 electric grills. Besides this,
there were half a dozen odd items.

You ought to have seen those girls sell the water heaters. The device
was a little affair about the size of a pencil. The idea was to put it
in a glass of water, turn on the current, and it heated the water very
quickly. They sold those to women to give for Christmas presents to
their husbands--hot water to shave with in the morning, you know. I made
up my mind to stock a lot of those--I thought it was a good idea. People
were most curious about it--it was such a novelty, and many who stopped
to look remained to buy.

It had puzzled me for a while to know why they had sold so many of the
toasters and chafing dishes and coffee percolators, until I realized it
was because those were demonstrated more than the others. Everybody who
came was offered a delicious cup of coffee. Wilkshire told me that they
spared no expense to get the choicest coffee possible. They put in just
the right amount of sugar to suit each one, and used thick, rich cream.
People would exclaim: "What delicious coffee this is!" and the girls
would smile sweetly and respond: "Yes, madam, it was made with this
electric percolator. It does make such splendid coffee." They gave the
percolator all the credit for it, although of course the fine grade of
coffee and the rich cream were responsible for a good part of it.

And then, with the toaster, they had fine brown toast, crispy and piping
hot; and the girl in charge would look up sweetly and ask: "Do you
prefer fresh or salted butter?" Such splendid butter it was, too, and
they spread it on good and thick, and that toast was really enjoyed. It
certainly sold the toasters.


And the other girl was a past mistress in the art of making Welsh
rarebit. When old Wimple tasted it, he said: "That's the finest Welsh
rarebit I'll ever taste this side of Heaven!"

"Are you married yet, sir?" asked the girl.

Married _yet_!--and he was sixty-five if he was a day!

"You bet I am!" he responded, vigorously. "I got a daughter as old as

"Well, your wife will be able to make you Welsh rarebits like this every
day, with this electric chafing dish. In fact, with her ability to cook
and this chafing dish, you'll have a combination which ought to result
in much better Welsh rarebit than this."

And old Wimple carried home the chafing dish to his wife. That minx was
certainly shrewd!

It had been a revelation to me to see how much easier it was to sell
anything when you demonstrated the article in actual use. I planned to
do more demonstration work in the store thereafter. Wilkshire told me it
was an excellent thing to demonstrate whenever one had an
opportunity--"and," said he, "let the customer do the thing for himself
wherever you can, and he'll feel so pleased with himself that he's
pretty likely to buy."

What was more to the point was that everybody in Farmdale had learned
that Dawson Black stocked electrical supplies.

I mustn't forget about those seven store windows which I had hired and
trimmed. It set the whole town talking; and the funny part of it was
that many people seemed to think I was opening new stores all over the
place. The first inkling I got of this was when Blickens, the president
of the bank, dropped in, and said: "Young man, what's this talk I hear
about your opening new stores?"

I told him and that seemed to reassure him. "Just the same," he asked,
"that's pretty expensive, isn't it?"

"Well, if you call $20.00 expensive for two weeks' display in seven
windows, yes, but I think it's remarkably cheap."

"Do you mean to tell me that that's all it has cost you?"

"That's all."

"Well, I congratulate you." And he left the store. I think his opinion
of me was a few notches higher.

Stigler opened up his new store on schedule time, and I had to admit
that he had a splendid window display. He had hired a professional
window trimmer from a Providence department store to come up and trim
the windows for him, and he had done a swell job. He had the window full
of all kinds of kitchen goods, everything ten cents. He even had a line
of tin buckets, which I knew cost him more than that.

I was looking the place over from my own store--you know it was right
next door to me,--I was out on the doorstep, looking at his window, when
I saw Stigler walking toward the door. My first impulse was to turn
away, but I realized that, if I did, he would think I was spying on him,
so I held my ground.

"Well, Neighbor," he said with his usual sneer, when he came outside,
"havin' a look at what a real store looks like for a change?"

Now, ordinarily my impulse would have been to get mad, but that time for
some reason or other I didn't. Instead, I said calmly:

"I was just thinking, Friend Stigler, what a remarkable philanthropist
you are."

"Good value, eh?" he returned, sneeringly.

"Excellent," I replied; "in fact, I'm thinking of hiring a lot of women
to go in and buy some of your things for ten cents and put 'em in my
store to sell over for a quarter."

I saw a shrewd expression pass over his face.

"Huh, if you'd only buy right, you could sell right yourself."

"Exactly what I think," I laughed. "Say, Stigler, you make me smile. Do
you think you'll be able to get away with that kind of stuff for long?
They'll come and buy your under-cost goods, but they won't buy the

Stigler turned sharply until he directly faced me. His features were
distorted and twitching with rage and his face was pasty white. What he
said would have cost him a big fine if he had been working for me! And I
laughed in his face, and turned and walked away.

I learned something really valuable then. I learned that, by keeping my
own temper, I made the other fellow lose his; and for the first time I
realized that Stigler was probably more worried over my competition than
I was over his.

Somehow I had always had the idea that I was the one to do the worrying
and not he, but from that time on I began to feel that it was the other
way round. I remembered reading in a magazine a little article--I think
it was by Elbert Hubbard--in which it was said that, when you're running
a race, and are getting tired, don't get discouraged, because the other
fellow is probably even more tired than you are. I believed it was the
same in a business race, too.

One thing was certain. My big displays in the seven windows and my
exhibition at the fair had thrown Stigler's opening into the shade. A
number of people had come in to buy goods they'd seen displayed in the
different windows--I had put different goods in each window so far as
possible--and it had been good advertising--it had made people think of
my store.

I dropped in to see Barlow and told him all about it, and he said, "Good
work--now go after his scalp good and hard. Drive on just as you are
doing, push the better-class merchandise, give people reasons why they
should buy it, tell them how much cheaper it is in the end, and you'll
win out."



I went to bed early that night, and by 9:30 I was asleep.

I was dreaming about a new advertising scheme wherein I had copied the
old town crier plan by having a man go about the town ringing a bell and
then calling out, "Dawson Black's hardware store for goods of
quality!"--only, instead of giving him an ordinary bell, I had given him
a big electric bell operated by a battery, which he carried in his
pocket and which he rang every so often; and then in my dream the bell
had started to ring and he couldn't stop it. I tried to get away from
the sound of that incessant ringing, and I started to run away, but the
crier followed me and the sound of the bell kept growing louder and
louder in my ear. Suddenly he overtook me and grabbed me by the shoulder
and shook me. Then I heard Betty's voice saying, "Can't you hear the
telephone bell ringing, Dawson?"

Sure enough, it was the telephone bell. I got sleepily out of bed and
went over to the telephone. When I picked up the receiver, a voice

"Is that you, Mr. Black? Well, come down at once; there's a fire in your
store!" and with a click the receiver went into place.

My heart leaped up in my throat. I was fully awake in an instant. I
gasped out to Betty that the store was afire, and hastily put on some
clothes, wild thoughts scurrying through my mind. And the thought which
pounded at me most was that I had no insurance! The stock had been
covered when I took over the store, but about three weeks before I had
received a letter from the insurance agents in Boston that the policies
would expire in two weeks. I had intended to have the insurance renewed
through Pelton--we used to be chums, and he was an insurance agent in
town--and I had written the Boston agents so, and told them not to renew
the policies when they expired. Something had come up that made me put
off telephoning to Pelton, and I had let it go for a couple of days, and
then I had forgotten it altogether!

I didn't waste a second but rushed frantically down the street to the
store and there was a big blaze in the rear. The firemen had beaten down
the front door and several of them were in the store, while two others,
with the hose, were at the rear of the store. Dense clouds of smoke
arose, and every now and then I saw a tongue of flame shoot out from one
of the windows in the back of the store.

When I rushed into the back yard, the fire chief was there--dear,
kindly, old Jerry O'Toole. He grabbed me by the arm, saying soothingly:

"It's all right, son; more smoke than fire."

In fifteen minutes the firemen were all through. The fire had burned
through the back door, but hadn't time to get much headway inside the

That Friday we had unpacked four cases of electrical goods, and we had
put the cases into the back yard, stuffing the excelsior into them. Some
of it, however, had been strewn about the yard. I remembered I had told
Larsen on Saturday that we ought to clean that up, but evidently in the
rush of Saturday he either hadn't time or had forgotten it. It was this
excelsior which had started to burn first.

When the smoke had cleared away and I had got into the store I
collapsed. All my strength left me, my knees gave way, and I sank into
the chair in my little office.

"My God, what a narrow escape!" I cried.

Jerry O'Toole was with me. "You bet it was," he said. "If one of my boys
hadn't a'bin passin' and seed the flame back there, it would have got a
good hold before we could a' got here."

"I wonder how it caught fire," I said.

"You can never tell. I was asking your neighbor if he'd seed any one
around back, but he said no."

"My neighbor?"

"Sure, the feller that opened the new 5- and 10-cent store--Stigler."

"What! Stigler!!"

"Yes, he was here when I got here, a' watching the fire. You don't seem
to like him any better'n he likes you!"


"Oh, when I asked him if he'd seed any one 'round, he said, 'No, but he
deserves to have his place set afire if he goes a'leavin' excelsior all
over the back yard.'"

"Oh!" And I thought to myself, "I wonder?"

Betty had arrived at the store about the time the fire was out. She,
poor girl, was almost hysterical. O'Toole put us into his automobile
after we had nailed things up and drove us home, but we didn't sleep
much, you can be sure.

What a fool I had been not to have seen about that insurance before it

We, all of us, Larsen, and Jones--got down to the store at six o'clock
the next morning. Wilkes, it seems, hadn't been awakened by the alarm,
and very much astonished he was when he arrived later and learned of the
fire. We went over things carefully, and fortunately found that the
damage was not very great. The front door was broken; the back door had
been burned, and the woodwork around it; and some panes of glass broken.
The four cases had been burned to a crisp, but, of course, that didn't
amount to anything. Altogether, the damage did not amount to more than
fifty dollars, and, of course, the building was covered by insurance and
that loss didn't fall on me. There were a few odds and ends which had
been blackened a little by smoke, and water had fallen on a few pans and
made rust spots, but the damage wasn't much.

You can be sure that the first thing I did was to chase down to Joe
Pelton's to get that insurance fixed up in double-quick order. When I
got there I learned that he was out of town, but was expected back about
three o'clock in the afternoon. I left word for him to come down and see
me just the minute he got back.

About twelve o'clock I got a long-distance call from Mr. Field, the
secretary of the Hardware Association. How he heard about it I don't

"I hear you had a fire, Mr. Black," he said. "Much damage done?"

"No, fortunately not," I replied.

"What about your insurance?"

"I'm ashamed to say it,"--and I blushed when I told him,--"but my
policy had just run out, and I had not renewed it."

"I'm glad the damage wasn't much, Mr. Black. But now you want to insure
through your association,"--and then he gave me facts and figures
showing how much cheaper and safer it was to insure through the
association. I didn't bother much to understand, because I was so
anxious to get it fixed up, and it wasn't certain anyway that Pelton
would be back in the afternoon, so I told him to go ahead and fix it up
in double-quick order.

He mentioned one thing that was new to me, and that was about the
co-insurance clause. We were talking about how much insurance to have,
and he told me to be sure and have at least eighty per cent. of the
value of my stock, otherwise I was a co-insurer with the company, and in
case of loss would receive only a certain percentage of the amount of

I was glad to have that matter off my mind, and he promised to get busy
on it before he went out to lunch. I changed my opinion a little about
Mr. Field. He had struck me as being a man who always took things in an
easy-going way, but the promptness with which he got after me when he
spotted a new prospect for a policy, and the directness with which he
explained the proposition, showed me that he had plenty of energy to use
when necessary.

At four o'clock I got another surprise. This time it was a long-distance
call from Mr. Peck, the credit manager of Bates & Hotchkin.

"Have you had a fire, Mr. Black?" was his first remark.

"Yes," I replied, "quite an exciting time."

"Are you covered by insurance?"


"What!" he cried, and there was great anxiety in his tone.

"No, the policy expired a few days ago and somehow I neglected to--"

"Neglected to--neglected such an important thing as your insurance!" My!
but I felt small! "What's the amount of damage?"

"I should say fifty dollars would cover it, and that's on the building,
not on the stock."

"Phew! I was told that you had been burned out." He must have felt
relieved. "You had better get busy and place insurance at once! And your
credit is stopped until you have fully protected yourself!"

I told him I had already arranged that with Mr. Field, and he said to
have Mr. Field advise him as soon as the policy was written.

Those two calls gave me an insight as to how real business was
conducted. Neither of them certainly delayed much when they heard about
it, and they must have had some means of finding out things promptly.

But I shuddered to think of my narrow escape. If the place had burned
down I'd have been absolutely ruined.

I wondered if Stigler would--oh, but no, it wasn't possible the man
would do such a thing. I saw him as he was coming home. "Had quite a
fire, didn't yer?" was his remark. "Sorry for yer"--but his tone belied
his words.

I wondered!



Our weekly meetings had certainly cultivated a better spirit among my
small staff. Even in the case of Wilkes it had had quite an effect. He
was only a boy, but we allowed him to sit in the meetings because I
wanted to make him feel that he was part of the organization. Ever since
we started them he had been much better in his delivery of parcels. He
was more courteous and attentive; he felt he was one of the firm. He was
not the slipshod, careless, happy-go-lucky boy he was once, but a
careful boy, studying the interests of the business certainly more than
we clerks had done when I was at Barlow's. I think that retailers could
do a lot to build up self-reliance and self-respect among the boys they

At our next Monday meeting the fire was discussed. Jones suggested that
we have a big fire sale. At this Wilkes broke in eagerly:

"But what would we have to sell? I thought at a fire sale you had to
sell stuff that got damaged by the fire."

There was more wisdom in that remark than he knew.

Jones replied: "Everybody in town knows we've had a fire; but they don't
know how bad it was, and we can put in the sale a lot of old stuff we
want to get rid of, and get away with it, all right."

"Hum," remarked Larsen. "That would be a fake, wouldn't it?"

Here I broke in. "It's a good suggestion, Jones but I don't think we
want to have a fire sale. We had no stuff damaged, to speak of, and it
would, as Larsen says, be a fake sale, if we had one; and I believe
we'll win out in the end by saying and doing nothing that is going to be
other than the truth."

Jones was inclined to be sulky at this, and my first impulse was to
speak to him sharply; but I remembered, fortunately in time, my previous
lesson never to talk to an employee angrily, and furthermore, that this
was a directors' meeting, where each was privileged to say what he
wished without regard for position. I realized that Jones had made the
suggestion in all sincerity, thinking it was to my interest, so I said:

"You know, Jones, that I have made several suggestions that we decided
not to adopt, for no one of us knows all the best of it. In some ways
that's a good suggestion of yours, and, if we'd had a little more stuff
damaged to justify it, I think I'd have been very much tempted to have a
fire sale. But, as it is, don't you think we had better exert ourselves
in making a big push on perfect Christmas goods, rather than emphasizing
damaged goods? You see, if we had a fire sale, some people might
hesitate about buying from us for a little while, even after the sale,
thinking that we would be trying to sell them fire-damaged goods."

"Well, won't they think that now?" he asked, somewhat mollified.

"By Jove, perhaps they will," I returned. "How would you suggest
overcoming that?"

Larsen was about to speak, but I checked him. I wanted to have Jones
feeling good-natured again.

"Of course we could advertise it," he said.

"That seems a good, sensible suggestion. All right, we'll advertise that
no goods were damaged by the fire."

That removed the last shred of resentment on the part of Jones.

I told Betty about this when I came home, and she exclaimed: "Why,
you're a regular Solomon, you are!"

"Explain yourself," I commanded.

"Why, your tact in handling Jones. You'll be a real manager of men, yet,
if you go on like that!"

"Huh, that's where I'll differ from Solomon, then. He was a real manager
of women only, wasn't he?"

"Now you're getting impudent," and she kissed me.

Well, after we had disposed of the fire sale question, we brought up the
matter of whether we should, or should not, sell toys at Christmas time.
Larsen was strongly in favor of it, but I was rather against it.

"We've a hardware store," I argued, "and that's a men's shop. Toys are
kids' business."

"You say we have a men's store, eh," was Larsen's rejoinder. "More women
than men come into the store. Women buy ninety per cent. of all retail
goods sold in the country. Why not we get women's and children's trade?
Get youngsters coming into the store. When they grow up they come for

Wilkes was strongly in favor of it, but I had an idea that it was so
that he could play with the toys. Jones was against it--he thought it

After an hour's discussion we were just about where we were at the
beginning, and the matter was held over until the next meeting. I
decided in the meantime to talk it over with Betty, and then I thought
to myself: "If I'm going to talk this over with Betty why not get the
others to talk it over with their women-folk?" That seemed to me a good
idea, and I made the suggestion to the others. So Larsen agreed to talk
it over with his wife, Jones with his sweetheart, and Wilkes with his

I had a long talk with Betty and Mother over the toy situation. Betty
was for it. Mother was against it. So there we were. What's a poor man
to do when opinions are so divided? I decided to wait a while.

Betty made a bully good suggestion, and that was to have the boys up to
dinner some night. I had been thinking of that; but then she added: "And
have Larsen bring his wife, Jones his young lady and have Wilkes bring
his mother."

"Good heavens," I exclaimed, "what is this to be--a gathering of the
Amazons? Or are you planning to make a union of you women to run us out
of business!"

"Don't try to be funny, boy dear--because, whenever you try it, you fail
miserably. You know your humor is very much like an Englishman's--it's
nothing to be laughed at!"

"But what's the idea?" I persisted.

"Now you promise you won't laugh if I tell you?"

"Sure," I said, grinning all over my face.

"There you are! You promise with one hand, and grin with the other. Oh,
pshaw!" she said, when I laughed. "You know what I mean!"

I saw she was getting a little provoked, so I said: "Go ahead, I won't

She handed me a newspaper clipping in which some big steel man said
that, whenever he wanted to hire executives, he always tried to find out
something about their home surroundings, in the belief that the home
influence, to a big extent, makes or mars a man's business efficiency.

"You see, boy dear," said Betty, "you never saw Jones' girl, and you
never saw Mrs. Larsen. Of course, Mrs. Wilkes we do know--we know she
used to do washing before she married again. She's a dear body, and I
know it would please her to come. And if you please her, she's going to
make Jimmie work all the harder."

"I see! You're going to turn into a female gang driver!"

"Now, if you knew Mrs. Larsen, it would perhaps give you more insight
into Larsen's character than you have now. You would know what his home
influences are, and whether they are helping him or hindering him. And
Jones' young lady--she may or may not be a girl who is likely to help
him; and if she isn't--"

"If she isn't, I suppose I've got to tell him to change his girl, or
fire him! That's a crazy idea!"

"I didn't say that. But, if she isn't the right kind of girl, you can't
afford to look upon Jones as a permanency, that's all."

"You're making the suggestion for the best, I know; but I think it's a
foolish idea."

"I don't think it's so foolish," interrupted Mother.

There it was! First they had disagreed about the toys, and then, when I
disagreed with either of them, they sided together! Well, I finally
gave way--I might have done it in the first place and saved the
trouble--and I invited the whole bunch of them up on the following
Friday night. It seemed to me a risky experiment, but Betty was so keen
on it--and I had to admit she was no fool. Anyhow, I didn't think it
could do much harm.

When the evening had come, and gone, and they had all left the house,
Betty squared herself in front of me, and said:

"Well, what have you to say for yourself?"

Solemnly I replied: "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings--"

"I don't know whether you are the babe, or the suckling; but it's very
seldom wisdom cometh forth from you!" she broke in; but her eyes were
dancing with delight at the success of the evening--for it certainly had
been a success.

Jimmie's mother had kept looking at Betty all night, and whatever Betty
said she agreed to. She was a good-hearted soul, who was always quoting
"my Jimmie." She had no ideas of her own whatever, and she believed that
Betty was a kind of guardian angel. It seemed that some weeks ago Jimmie
had had a bad cold, and Betty had noticed it while in the store and had
gone across the road and bought some cough lozenges which she gave him.
She had forgotten all about it; but ever since then Betty has been on a
pedestal in that household. . . . Isn't it queer what a little act of
kindness like that will lead to?

Jones' girl was named Elsie Perkins. I didn't like the name Elsie; but
she was much better than her name. She was a quiet little girl, but had
an opinion and will of her own. She worked at the bank and was
Blickens' personal stenographer. I never even knew that Jones was
acquainted with her! How little the majority of people do know about
their employees; and if they only knew more about them, how easy it
would be to get better results from them!

That evening certainly resulted in a more friendly feeling among my
little staff than ever there was before.

Mrs. Larsen was a very queer woman. When she came in she _bristled_--do
you know what I mean by that? Well, whenever any one said anything to
her she bristled all up, as if there was going to be an argument. When
she came into the house and Larsen introduced me, I said:

"How do you do, Mrs. Larsen?"

"How do you do, Mr. Black?" she replied sharply, and the way she said it
conveyed the idea that she was absolutely on the defensive.

I went into the kitchen, later, while Betty was there, and I said to

"What is the matter with Mrs. Larsen?"

"I don't know. Doesn't she act queerly?"

"She doesn't like us for some reason or other."

"Has Larsen ever said anything about it?"

"Never a word."

"Why not tell her how much you think of Larsen, and how lucky you feel
to have him as your manager?" suggested Betty.

"I see. Soft-soap the old girl. All right."

I had to hurry back into the room then, because I couldn't leave my
guests for long. In a few minutes I was talking to Mrs. Larsen about the
hard time we had had when I bought the business. "I don't know what I
would have done if it hadn't been for your husband, Mrs. Larsen. I
certainly think I'm lucky to have him, and I know he thinks he's lucky
to have you!"

"So you think that you are lucky to have my husband working for you, do
you, Mr. Black?" she asked.

"Yes, indeed; he is a mighty fine man, and I think a lot of him, Mrs.
Larsen." I spoke with all sincerity.

"Do you know how old my husband is?"

"Why, n-no. How old is he?" I couldn't see any reason for her question,
which was asked in the same frigid manner, but I responded with polite

"Fifty-four," was her response.

"Is he that old?" I was floundering, for I felt that I had altogether
missed my aim in trying to pacify her.

"Yes, fifty-five next January. . . . And after forty years' work he is
very valuable to a hardware store--so valuable that he gets twenty
dollars a week!"

Hadn't I got my foot into it! "T-that's nothing like your husband's real
value, Mrs. Larsen," I stuttered, "b-but you know I've only had the
store about six months and I had some very heavy losses at the

"So my husband should bear your loss, is that it?"

I was getting angry and was about to make some tart rejoinder; but, just
as I was about to speak, I felt Betty's hand on my shoulder. She had
quietly come into the room and heard Mrs. Larsen's last remark. To my
surprise, Betty took over the conversation.

"Just what I was telling Mr. Black," she said sweetly. "I told him that,
if he ever expected to get people to work whole-heartedly with him, he
would have to let them share in his profits."

"And his losses?" broke in Mrs. Larsen.

"Yes, and his losses. For instance, take the case of Mr. Larsen and Mr.
Jones--and Jimmie," she said, looking at the last-named with a twinkle
in her eye. "They have all had to bear some of Mr. Black's losses; and
it was a case of either sharing the loss or Mr. Black getting some one
else to share it, for, if he had paid them what they were worth, he
would have failed, and you see then they as well as Mr. Black would have
all been out of work. As it is, I really think my husband has turned the
corner, although it's only six months since he took over the store.
. . . And it has been a pretty busy six months, hasn't it, Mr. Larsen?"

"You bet it has," he returned heartily.

"And a pretty happy six months?"

"The happiest I have had in my life!"

"Well, I think," Betty continued, "that we are going to have many more
happy months; and one reason we asked you all here was to let you know
so; because, you know, Mrs. Larsen, your hubby can't work well for Mr.
Black unless he has your help, just the same as Mr. Black can't work
well without my help. . . . These men are helpless things without us
women to cheer them up, aren't they, Mrs. Larsen?"

"That's so," she nodded, thawing under the sunshine of Betty's words. "I
tell my husband sometimes he is a fool, and I don't know how people
endure him, but he's good to me." Then she stopped, embarrassed, for she
had made her first remark without "bristling."

"I know this, Mrs. Larsen," said Betty, "that no man is worth much in
business, unless he has a good woman at the back of him, to help and
encourage him. . . . You agree with me, don't you, Mr. Jones?"

His answer was to blush red and sheepishly grin, first at Betty, and
then at Elsie.

"Well," Betty went on, while I stood by, too astonished to say anything,
and indeed not knowing what was coming, "Mr. Black and I talked over,
right from the beginning, the advisability of starting a profit-sharing
plan. Now, we haven't worked it out--in fact, he has only just decided
definitely to go ahead with it; but he purposes that, by the time he has
finished his first year in business, if not even sooner, he will arrange
some plan whereby he can divide a share of his profits, if he makes any,
with his help. . . . We talked it over yesterday,"--what little liars
these women are sometimes!--"and Mr. Black said he wanted to have the
women-folk, who made his little staff so effective, know what he was
trying to do for them. You see, Mrs. Wilkes, Jimmie here will get a
little bit of profit--let's see, every three months you were thinking of
paying the bonus, wasn't it, Dawson?"--I gulped and looked at Betty with
amazement, and I must say, admiration, and nodded--"so, you see, that
Jimmie, every three months, will have a little check to bring home as a
little extra money, which he can put in the savings bank; and--"

"How much is it likely to be?" asked Jimmie eagerly.

"Bless the boy, I don't know. You may not be worth anything. You may be
having more now than you're worth," she said teasingly.

"Not my Jimmie," said Mrs. Wilkes a little indignantly. "My
Jimmie"--and here she entered into a pæan of praise of Jimmie.

Then Betty continued:

"And Mr. Jones will have a little check which will probably come in very
handily for--furniture?" she said, looking at Elsie. Elsie's only answer
was a blush. "And you, Mrs. Larsen, will probably have a check from Mr.
Larsen, every three months, which will help, at any rate, to give Mr.
Larsen the protection for his old age that he has so thoroughly earned."

Mrs. Larsen was completely won over, and, to my surprise, she burst out
crying bitterly. Betty quietly put her arm around her waist and led her
upstairs. They came down in a few minutes, Mrs. Larsen red-eyed, but
smiling; and we immediately started the question of handling toys for
Christmas. The women were all strongly in favor of it, so we decided to
have toys for Christmas.

I didn't know the first thing about toys; I didn't know where to buy
them; I didn't know what we ought to sell. But, as we were going to sell
them, I hoped that my luck would be with me.

After they had gone Betty told me that Mrs. Larsen had said, when they
were upstairs, that she had been urging Larsen to find another job, as
she felt he wouldn't make any progress with me.

"Perhaps that's why he has looked worried sometimes lately, and hasn't
seemed to work with the same delight that he did when I first bought the
business," I said.

And then it was that Betty had put her hands to her hips, cocked her
head impishly one side, and thrown her taunt at me: "Well, what have you
to say now?"



The next day, I wrote to Hersom, the salesman for Bates & Hotchkin, and
asked him to give me the names of one or two good firms from whom to buy
toys. I had just mailed the letter when he came into the store.

He was a nice fellow, was Hersom, and I had found that, whenever I left
anything to him, he gave me a square deal. Indeed, he had got so that he
was almost one of the family when he got inside the place. He gave me
the names of two New York concerns, the manager of one of which he said
he knew personally, and to him he gave me a letter of introduction.

I decided that Betty and I would go to New York the next week and pick
out a stock of toys. We would plunge on a hundred dollars'
worth--perhaps a little more--and see what happened.

After I had found out a little about selling the Cincinnati pencil
sharpener, with the aid of the selling manual which the company had
given me, I had passed it on to Larsen, and he had studied it for a week
or two, and then, one Thursday afternoon, he had gone calling on the
business men of the town, other than the store-keepers. He sold only one
sharpener the first afternoon, but he had a request for a pocketknife,
which we delivered the next day. The next Thursday he went out again. To
my surprise he didn't sell a single pencil sharpener, but he came back
with an order for a Middle's razor and a stick of shaving soap, and also
brought in eighteen safety razor blades to be sharpened, and two of the
regular kind of razors to be honed!

Of course we did not sell soap and I asked Larsen why he had taken an
order for it. His reply was:

"Look here, Boss, let's do it. He wanted it, and it'll please him. He
then give us more trade."

"But what about the razor blades? We can't sharpen those here."

"Up to Bolton is a drug store with a machine for sharpening 'em. It's
only eleven miles away. I go there and fix up for them to do it for us.
We can get lots of business for it."

Well, I let him do it, and we put a little notice in our window that
safety razor blades would be sharpened, and razors honed, in forty-eight
hours. We made only ten cents on a dozen blades, but, as Larsen said,
and I believed he was right, we were obliging the customers; and even if
we didn't make anything out of it it would pay us on account of the
good-will we would build up.

Larsen had shocked me very much the same day by saying that he thought
we ought to stock shaving soap and talcum powder, and bay rum, and such
stuff. I had told him I couldn't stand for a thing like that--we'd have
Traglio the druggist down on us.

"Traglio?" replied Larsen. "Say, Boss, you never been mad at him for
selling razors? Nor for selling mirrors?"

"Oh, well, we don't sell shaving mirrors."

"Hum. I know we don't, but we oughter. What about him selling shaving
brushes? That's a line we got. I think we oughter please customers and
not bother about old Traglio."

Finally I had allowed him to buy twenty-five dollars' worth of shaving
sundries--in fact, I had told him to look after that stock himself.
Well, since then, old Larsen had looked upon his little stock of shaving
accessories as if it were an orphan which he had adopted. I thought he
spent too much time in pushing the sale of shaving sticks, and bay rum,
and witch hazel, but his twenty-five dollars' worth of stock rose to
over sixty dollars and we built up quite a nice little sale for it.
Strange to say, very little of it was sold in the store; for every
Thursday Larsen visited his "trade," as he called it. He went around to
his different people once a month. He had about sixty people he called
on, all told--an average of fifteen each Thursday afternoon. In three
months he had brought to us over twenty charge accounts, and charge
accounts with the best people in town, too, through calling on the
husband at his place of business, and getting the wife to visit our

He would come back with all kinds of strange requests and orders. Once
he brought a request that we send a man to repair a broken window sash.
We hadn't any one who could do that, so I telephoned to Peter Bender to
go down there and repair it and charge it to me. Peter seemed quite
tickled to think that I had got him some business. I told Peter that
they were charge customers of ours, and that, as they never paid cash,
I'd pay him and collect it on my regular bill, which satisfied Peter
very well, because he never kept books.

He went down and did the job and turned me in a bill of $2.25. I paid it
and charged it to Mr. Sturtevant at the same price. I made nothing out
of it, but I surely did please that customer, for Mrs. Sturtevant
dropped into the store to make some little purchase and told me about
it. She remarked she didn't know we had a carpenter department. I told
her I hadn't, but, as she had wanted the job done, I had telephoned
Bender to go and do it and charge it up to me.

"Bender charged me $2.25," I said, "and of course I charged you only
just that amount, for I don't want to make any profit on little jobs
like that. It is merely an accommodation to my customers."

"I haven't bought much from your store before," she said.

"That's my misfortune," I returned with a laugh.

"You merely did that so as to put me in the position of having to deal
with you, is that it?"

"Not at all. But your husband asked Mr. Larsen, when he called on him,
if he could see to it for him, and we were only too glad to do so.
Naturally, we are anxious for your patronage. You know, Mrs. Sturtevant,
that's what we are in business for."

She seemed satisfied with that explanation. As she was leaving the
store, she remarked:

"Mr. Black, if either of the maids or the chauffeur come here for goods,
please don't deliver anything unless they have a written order. I have
decided to stop trading with Mr. Stigler, because I think his bills are
too high. Do you think Mr. Stigler is a fair man?" still with her hand
on the doorknob.

Fancy asking me that question! As though I could possibly do justice to
my feelings about Stigler in the presence of a lady. I was about to
say, in the politest manner possible, that I thought him the dirtiest,
meanest hound in the town, when I caught Larsen shaking his head, with a
warning look in his eye, and then I realized the folly of what I had
been about to do.

"I think Mr. Stigler is a pretty good man, so far as I know," I said,
"but, of course, we don't see much of each other."

"I understand you fight each other a lot?" she asked.

"Oh, no, not at all."

"Mr. Stigler seemed quite provoked about you. I was telling my husband
about it."

"What did he say?" I asked with a smile.

"He said that, when a man disparaged his competitor, he preferred to
trade with the competitor!"

With that she left the store. I think she wanted to convey to me,
without directly telling me so, that that was partly the reason she had
decided not to trade with Stigler any more! And to think of the fool I
was about to make of myself! When you come to think of it, it _is_ bad
business to speak ill of your competitor. Fortunately, I learned that
lesson without having to pay for it.

Betty and I went to New York on a Sunday, slept there Sunday night, and
the first thing Monday morning, at Betty's suggestion, we went up to the
office of _Hardware Times_. There we found Mr. Sirle. He was a wonder,
that man. He knew my name right off, for he came right up and shook
hands with me, saying: "Is this Mrs. Black?" whereupon I introduced him
to Betty. Some pleasantries followed, and he led us into his office.

"Well," said Mr. Sirle, "are you in New York on business, or is this
just a pleasure trip?"

"It's supposed to be a business trip," I replied.

"I see," he returned, "a business trip with a little pleasure on the

"Yes," said I, "in spite of having brought the wife with me."

"Shall I throw him out of the window?" said Mr. Sirle, turning to Betty.

"Not this time," she said, "I think your office is too high up."

I told Mr. Sirle the object of the trip, and asked him if he could
recommend the house to which Hersom had given me a letter of
introduction, and he said yes, it was a good house to do business with.

"Are you going down there right away?" he asked.

I told him yes, whereupon he picked up the 'phone, gave a number, and
asked, "Is this Plunkett?"

Plunkett, it seemed was the manager of Fiske & Co., the toy firm to
which I was going. Mr. Sirle seemed to know everybody. It must be fine
to be known and liked by everybody as he was.

"Say, Plunkett," he said over the 'phone, "This is Sirle. There's a
bully good friend of mine, Mr. Black, going over to see your line of
Christmas toys. He doesn't know the first thing about toys, but he's all
right. I want you to do the best you can for him. . . . All right, I'll
see if Mr. Black can be there about half-past two. . . ."

I nodded assent, and the appointment was made.

Well, Mr. Sirle wouldn't hear of us doing anything until we had lunch
with him, so he took Betty and me out to one of the nicest little
lunches I ever had. Betty quite fell in love with him, especially when
she heard the way he spoke about his little boy. She said to me, coming
home on the train: "A man must be all right who loves children as he
does his boy."

Well, we went to the toy house, and we bought a selection. We spent
$160, as a matter of fact, but I was certain that we got an excellent
assortment. We bought a lot of mechanical toys and a number of games.
Mr. Sirle advised us to add air rifles, structural outfits, water
pistols, and a few things of that nature which the regular jobbing
houses carry, to make a big showing. He also advised me to make a good
display in the window and have one counter exclusively for toys.

"Fix a train in the window, and let one of your boys keep it wound up,"
he added. "The little engine running around and round on the rails will
attract a lot of interest. Nothing helps a window display so much as
something moving in it."

In the evening we went to the theater and left New York early the next
morning, getting back to Farmdale in time for me to put in a couple of
hours at the store. I sent off a little order to Bates & Hotchkin for
the extra toys which Mr. Sirle had advised me to buy.

Mr. Sirle sold me a book on show-card writing which he said would give
me some good ideas also on advertising generally.

I felt a bit worried on seeing four great cases delivered to Stigler's
5- and 10-cent store, especially when I found that they were Christmas
novelties and cheap toys. All the stuff I had bought was of the better
quality. I hoped we wouldn't get stung with the venture, for it looked
as if the toy business was going to be overdone in the town. The
department store was already advertising that they'd have a children's
fairyland for the whole of December. Traglio was running a lot of games,
jigsaw puzzles and things of that kind. Funny thing, the year before the
department store had been about the only one that did anything in toys,
and they hadn't done very much. Now this year there were seven of us
pushing toys and it looked as if some one was going to get left.

One day, Miriam Rooney, one of Mrs. Sturtevant's maids, came into the
store and said she wanted to get some kitchen goods for her mistress. I
asked her for a written order for the goods, in accordance with
instructions from Mrs. Sturtevant, and she drew out a little book,
printed especially for the purpose, in which the blanks were numbered.
She slipped in a sheet of carbon for the copy, and was about to fill out
the order, when she said, with a peculiar look on her face:

"I--I suppose you'll charge it up the same way as Mr. Stigler used to?"

The moment she said it, I felt there was something wrong. I suppose I
was prejudiced against that man, and every time I heard his name I saw
red. Stigler had been trying in every way he could to hurt me. He was
all the time cutting prices, and I had lost quite a lot of business
because of my refusal to reduce my prices when customers came and told
me they could buy cheaper at Stigler's. I used to do so at first, until
Old Barlow advised me not to.

"Don't you think it is quite possible," he had said, "that your friend
Stigler is sending some one into your store to see how much they can
beat you down?"

I asked what good that would do him.

"Suppose a woman came in for a fifty-cent article and, by telling you
she could get it from Stigler for forty cents, you were induced to let
down the price, and not only sell it to her for that price, but make
that the regular price on the article?"

Well, I had never done that, although I had occasionally let down the
price on some individual article, but since then I had adopted the
strictly one-price policy.

When Miriam Rooney asked me if I would charge it up the same way as
Stigler, I was on my guard at once. "I don't know what Stigler does at
all," I said, with a smile.

"Well," said Miriam hesitatingly, "you see, Mr. Black, we use a lot of
things up to the big house"--Mrs. Sturtevant was the wife of a very
wealthy manufacturer in the neighborhood and kept up a large
establishment--"and you might want to make it worth our while for us to
buy from you. Mrs. Sturtevant said she'd as soon we'd buy from you as
anywhere else."

"In other words, you want a rake-off--is that it?"

"Well," she said, evidently not liking the brutally frank way I put it,
"it ought to be worth something to you to get all the business of the
big house, hadn't it?"

"No," I said, desiring to get rid of the subject in the easiest way, "I
can't afford to do so at the price I sell my goods, and there would be
no benefit to me in doing business without a profit, would there?"

"Oh, you're soft," she said. "It needn't cost you anything."

I knew well enough what she meant. "But that would be making Mrs.
Sturtevant pay more for the goods than they are worth."

"What d' you care, so long as she pays it?"

"I want Mrs. Sturtevant's business, young woman, but I'm hanged if I'm
going to do any grafting to get it!"

"Keep your old things, then! If you're a fool, Stigler isn't!" And with
that she bounced out of the store.

Larsen wanted to telephone Mrs. Sturtevant and tell her all about it,
but I said we'd never had much business from her and I'd hate, just
before Christmas, to cause a girl to lose her job. "Besides," I said,
"she'd deny it, of course."

I told Betty about it when I got home. All she did was to come over and
give me a kiss and say, "I'm glad, boy dear, you are strong enough to do
business honestly."

A few days later, Mrs. Sturtevant came into the store and bought quite a
number of things. When she was through, she said to me:

"Didn't one of my maids come in here yesterday?"

"Yes, Mrs. Sturtevant."

"Why didn't she buy?"

"I couldn't satisfy her," I said with a smile.

"How do you mean, you couldn't satisfy her?" persisted Mrs. Sturtevant.

"Why, we--we couldn't agree on prices!"

"You are a very foolish young man!" I looked at her blankly--I didn't
know what she meant. "If you hadn't a mother to look after you, I don't
know what you would do!"

"What do you--I don't quite follow you," I smiled.

"I'll tell you, Mr. Black. Your mother and I, of course, know each
other, and she paid me a call a few days ago; and, while talking, she
mentioned that you refused to sell me some goods because you would have
to add a premium to the price."--Betty must have told mother!--"I have
suspected that I have been paying too much for my goods, and, when your
mother told me that, I was certain of it. Besides, I suspected something
when Miriam said she couldn't find the things we wanted here, and she
had to go to Stigler's, when I asked her why she didn't buy them of

"Don't worry. I haven't dismissed the girl; but I have given her a good
talking to."

If you knew Mrs. Sturtevant, you would know that she could give anybody
a good talking-to. "But I do know I have paid prices that were too
high," she continued, "because I asked a friend to go into Mr. Stigler's
store and buy some things, and I checked those with the prices which had
been charged me."

"And they were--?"

"Yes, about fifteen per cent. more."


"Yes, exactly. I said something more vigorous than that, though, for
your competitor first of all added ten per cent. for the maid and then
apparently another five per cent. for himself! I have been over there
and told him that I have instructed my help never to buy anything from
him again, and that, if they do, I shall positively refuse to pay for

I wondered if other retail merchants had just these same little problems
to solve that I had. I wondered if, in a case like this one, they would
have ever thought of suggesting to their customers that they get some
friends to buy an article or two occasionally, and compare the prices
with those they were charged. . . . I knew the episode wouldn't make
Stigler love me any more, for the Sturtevant business amounted to quite
a lot. That one order that Miriam Rooney had bought of Stigler had been
eighteen dollars' worth.



About this time Betty was taken sick, so that I used to go into the
Élite Restaurant for my lunches. This was a place frequented by a number
of business men. Stigler was in there one day when I got in, talking
with some of the people who regularly dined there. If ours wasn't a dry
town, I should have said that Stigler had been drinking; for, the minute
he saw me, he flushed, and an ugly expression came into his face.

"There he is," he cried to his friends, pointing at me, and he spoke in
a voice loud enough for me and everybody else in the place to hear.
"There he is! A pretty little chap he is--oh, so nice that he is!--to
stab his competitor in the back. D--d young whelp!" he said _to_ his
friends, but _at_ me. "What do yer think of a feller that goes behind
yer back to hurt yer character? I'd sooner a feller'd come out in the
open and fight. D--d character assassin!"

His friends looked rather embarrassed. I sat down at the table,
apparently not paying the least attention to him, but my head was in a
whirl. Then I gave my order to Kitty. I suppose Kitty had another name,
but everybody knew her as Kitty. She was a pretty little Irish girl, who
had come to our town about five years ago, nobody knew from where. Old
Collier, the big, fat, kindly old Frenchman who ran the place, at once
had given her a job. He was too big-hearted to inquire why she came by
herself and why her eyes showed signs of sleeplessness and weeping. He
not only gave her a job, but, in a few weeks, had taken her into the
family. She at first became known jokingly as Kitty Collier, and soon
everybody thought of her by that name. She thought the whole universe
revolved around genial old Pierre, who really regarded her as he would
his own daughter.

When Kitty first came into the town Betty at once had become her friend;
and in fact Betty had been quite severely criticized for making a friend
of a girl whose character was unknown. Kitty thought a lot of Betty and,
in consequence, of me also.

"I'll bring ye some nice steak," said Kitty with her pretty brogue, and
unobtrusively patted my back. She sensed the unhappy position I was in.

When she came back, Stigler was saying in a loud voice: "There are some
people--and their name ain't White, either--that ought to be ridden out
o' town!"

Crash! Kitty had dropped her plate, and, to the surprise of every
one--especially to me,--she walked over to where Stigler was sitting,
gave his hair a vigorous pull, and said:

"Arrah, now, ye dir-rty blackguard, ye're not a gintleman yerself, an'
ye doan't know one, if ye see one. Mr. Black, there, is too much of
gintleman to sile his hands on the likes o' you, but _I'm not_!" and
with that she gave him a resounding box on the ear.

Stigler jumped up with an oath, while old Pierre ran from behind the
counter; Stigler, black with rage, Pierre almost crying with vexation.

Stigler caught Kitty by the arm and angrily swung her around, and
then--I forgot myself. I rushed at him and caught him fairly under the
jaw. He fell back among the tables; and then some people caught hold of
us, and held us both back. Finally Stigler walked out of the restaurant,
without another word, while I sat down at the table to eat my steak; but
I was trembling all over with the excitement and could eat nothing.

I felt that there was nothing I wouldn't do to be able to run Stigler
out of the town. Why he should be so bitter against me I didn't know,
unless it was that my business was slowly growing. Of course he had been
fond of Betty, but surely he was all over that.

Old Barlow came over to the store, having heard of the fracas.

"Look here, Black," he said, "I want you to forget that fracas. Forget
Stigler as much as you can. If you see him, don't speak to him; but just
drive ahead and 'saw wood.' If he likes to waste his energies in
thinking up ways of getting revenge, why, let him do so. Just keep your
attention on your business and you'll have a successful business when he
is forgotten. No man can build a successful business on spite. No man
can increase his bank account while he's trying to make his business a
weapon to secure revenge against some one else. I have seen so many
business men spoil themselves because they began to worry over
competition, and, instead of just seeing how they could improve their
methods of business they spent good time in seeing how they could fight
one individual competitor. Success to-day isn't made by downing the
other fellow, but by building up one's own efficiency in business
methods. There's room for you and Stigler and me in this town--in fact,"
he said with a smile, "we are going to have a little more competition

"Where?" I asked, surprised.

"In Macey Street."

Macey Street was a busy little street connecting High and Main.

"Who is it?"

"I don't know; but I understand it's one of a chain of stores."

"What kind of goods are they going to handle?"

"Kitchen goods, same as you."

"H'm," I said with a grin, "I guess I'll have to go into the
agricultural implements business and compete with you!"

"Go to it! Good luck to you!" But he knew that I couldn't do that, for I
hadn't the money to put in the necessary stock; and, besides, Mr. Barlow
had had that business for years.

When I told the Mater about it, she replied: "It seems to me
unreasonable to say that, because Mr. Barlow has had that business for
years, you should avoid it; but I really hope you won't try for it,
because Mr. Barlow is such a good friend of yours, and his friendship
and the help which he has given you is worth more to you than what you
might earn from selling those goods. If you did, he might retaliate and
sell electrical goods, and, you know, you are getting quite a name for

It was a fact; we _were_ selling quite a lot of electrical
goods--indeed, I believed we were going to build up a very substantial
business in them before long. I was thinking of making a special
department of them, and hiring a girl to be in charge of it. I knew
that many people would think it funny to have a girl in a hardware
store, but, just the same, I had a hunch that a girl could handle that
kind of goods better than a man.



Betty had become seriously ill. The doctor said she ought to go South
until spring, and then take a sea voyage. I told him I didn't know where
the money was coming from to do it; but the Mater reminded me that Aunt
Hannah lived in Birmingham. The doctor said that would be better than up
here for the time being, so the Mater wrote at once to Aunt Hannah to
see if Betty could go and stay with her for a while. I would shut up the
house and live with the Mater until Betty came back.

I had not yet been able to pay all the monthly bills. I had bought those
toys in New York on a ten-day cash basis, so I was hard up. When I went
to the bank to try to borrow $500.00 Blickens had turned me down. He had
said: "You're right in the busiest time of the year now. A few days
should give you all the money you need. If you can't carry yourself
without the aid of the bank now, you never can."

Then, to cap the whole thing, I had received a letter from Barrington
saying he'd like me to pay that $1,250.00 note, secured by a mortgage on
my farm. I went to his office, and he said he wanted the thing closed up
right away. It was a demand note, because, when we fixed it up,
Barrington had said he wanted it to run an indeterminate time. I had
expected he would carry it indefinitely, but there it was--he said he
had a sudden call for the money and wanted me to pay it off.

I had caught a very bad cold, and if I had not been boss I'd have taken
a good vacation. One day I went to the store, but had to come home
early, I felt so sick. Jones, too, was out the same day--worse luck. His
mother had called up in the morning, saying he had caught a bit of a
cold, and she thought it would be much better for him to stay home till
he was well. I almost wished I were a clerk for a little while, then
perhaps I could stay at home and get a rest. I really felt very ill. My
head was splitting.

I wonder if clerks realize how often the Boss has to work when he feels
sick? Most bosses, I guess, have that feeling of responsibility for the
business and the employees that I always have had, and that keeps them
working when they'd be at home if they didn't have that responsibility.
I remember one of the fellows who worked with me at Barlow's used to
complain that Barlow got all the profit, while we got all the work--and
I agreed with him at the time, poor fool that I was. We never thought
that Barlow had all his money invested in the business that was
providing us with a certain living. We never stopped to think that we
were sure to get our money every week, whatever happened, but that
Barlow had to take a chance on anything that was left. We never thought
about the worry and responsibility.

I don't want to forget the workers' side of a business deal, but I never
realized so much as I did then how unjust most employees are to their
boss. I know many bosses are unjust to their employees and perhaps the
boss is principally to blame for it, but just take my case: There was
Jones threatened with a cold, so he stayed home when he could have been
working just as well as not. He knew he was going to get his money on
Saturday, anyway. But I was so sick I could hardly think logically; and
I had to go down to the store and work.

Stigler had put on a big sale of Christmas novelties. He had bought a
lot of indoor parlor games. I hadn't bought any of those; and he had a
line of calendars and Christmas cards. I had never thought of putting
them in. The drug store had a big stock of them, though.

Stigler was advertising extensively and was pretty busy at both the
five-and-ten-cent store and at the hardware store opposite. He seemed to
be doing more business than usual. Since we had had the scrap in the
Élite Restaurant he had been quite polite, but somehow I feared him more
than ever before. He seemed to have a cold hatred of me, and he was
always going out of his way to spoil any adventure in special sales that
I made.

Toys had been going very slowly with me. I had wanted to get Fellows of
the Flaxon Advertising Agency to write up some ads on toys for me, but
he was in the hospital, being operated on for appendicitis. I didn't
know what to do.

As soon as she received the Mater's letter Aunt Hannah had telegraphed,
saying she'd be delighted to have Betty visit her, and asking if I
couldn't come as well. Of course I could not go, but the doctor said
that Betty was well enough to travel, so it was decided that the Mater
should go down with her to stay for a week or so while I looked after
the house. I planned to have all my meals at the Élite Restaurant.

The day after they left I was so ill that I had to spend the whole day
in the house. Larsen came around at lunch time and said he'd written up
an ad on toys and had put it in the papers.

"We can't afford any money for ads," I said peevishly.

"Done now, Boss, anyhow. Don't you worry--we had quite a good day
yesterday. Going to have another one to-day. You stay right in bed until
you are well. We'll look after things there."

Larsen was a good sort. I saw his ad in the paper. It read like this:


     Every youngster likes a toy that moves. Get him one for
     Christmas! We have a large variety of moving and other
     Christmas toys. They are toys that will fascinate the
     youngster. They are strongly built toys, too, that will

     Railroads, 50¢ to $4.00

     Constructor outfits, 25¢ to $6.00

     Bamboo, the wonderful tumbling clown, 50¢

     Automobiles, moving animals, juvenile tool
     outfits--hundreds of other things the children will

     Bring the youngsters in and let them enjoy the fun of
     our toy bazaar.

Larsen told me that he had cleared away two long tables, placed them
together, covered them with cheap oil cloth, and filled them up with
toys, arranged in such a way that they could all be worked and handled

"I have Jimmie keeping 'em going all the time. He is working harder,
playing with them things, than he ever did in his life," he said, with a

I couldn't help smiling at Larsen's cheeriness. He certainly had been
different since we had had that dinner at home and had made Mrs. Larsen
realize that I was looking after his interests as well as my own.

I thought Larsen had done quite well on that ad, although there were
some things in it that I'd have changed.

He said that a lot of toys had been sold because he had them working. I
had intended to do something of that kind myself, only I had felt too
sick to attend to it. I remembered the big success we had had with
electrical appliances when we demonstrated them in actual use.

There were only six days to Christmas! Still, if we had a good week we
ought to clear those toys out.

Larsen told me Stigler's five-and-ten-cent store was packed. He thought
it was a good thing for us.

"Lots of folks go there," he said, "for 5- and 10-cent things. We're
next door. They come to us for better stuff."

Perhaps there was something in that, after all.



The New England Hardware Company were to open their store on Macey
Street on January one. I knew because I had received the following
letter from them, which evidently they had sent to every house in town:

     Dear Sir:

     The New England Hardware Company open their Farmdale
     Store January 1, at 62 Macey Street. This store will be
     in charge of Mr. Roger Burns, who for many years was in
     charge of the kitchen goods department at the Bon

     We earnestly solicit your patronage at our new
     store--not because by so doing you will help Mr. Burns
     (who has an interest in the profits of the company) but
     because you will get the best in kitchen hardware at
     cut-rate prices.

     You will readily appreciate that an organization like
     ours can give you greater value than the usual hardware
     store, where the goods are bought in small lots by the
     proprietor or manager, who has many other duties to
     attend to. Our buyers are experts, who devote all their
     time to the study and search of markets; buying in
     tremendous quantities (for twenty-seven stores), and
     paying spot cash. We are thus able to sell merchandise
     for less than usual prices.

     Mr. Burns hopes to meet all his friends on the opening
     day, January one. He has a surprise gift for every
     visitor to the store on that day.

          Respectfully yours,

That had struck me as being a pretty good letter. It certainly was a
clever idea to get Burns as their manager because he was very popular in
the town. When the Bon Marche failed he had come to me, but, of course,
I couldn't use him. Then he had told me that the chain-store people had
made him an offer, and he went to work in their Hartford store. At that
time he didn't say anything about the possibility of coming back to
Farmdale as manager of a store for them. I don't think, as a matter of
fact, that he had any idea that they were going to open a new store.
Burns was a bully good fellow, and I honestly hoped he'd be successful,
although I hoped the new store would not hurt us much. . . .

The day after I received the circular letter I had a telephone call from
Burns. He had come into town to take charge of getting the new store
ready. We made an appointment to have Christmas dinner together and he
promised to tell me how his firm had gone about opening the new store in

I had been doing a little figuring, and I didn't know whether we'd do
our $30,000 in the fiscal year or not. Up to the end of November--that
is for six months--our business had amounted to $13,872.00, $1,128.00
below our quota. However, in the last two days we had taken in $345.00
and I had been able to pay off the last few of our monthly accounts.
Barrington, too, had told me he'd wait until the first of the year; but
insisted that I tell him then what I could do.

I wished I could increase the business a little bit more, for my
expenses were still high, and we were all of us feeling fagged through
being under-staffed. We could well have done with another clerk; but we
just couldn't afford it. However, while Betty was away I could work day
and night, if necessary, and then, perhaps, by the time she got back,
we'd have things in such shape that I could afford another clerk.

As arranged, I had Christmas dinner with Roger Burns at his

After dinner Roger told me some of the methods that the New England
Hardware Company used in locating stores and carrying on their business.

"You know, Jackdaw," said Roger (when I was at school the boys all
called me Jackdaw; one reason I suppose was that I was so dark and my
first name was Dawson), "it is some months since the New England
Hardware people hired me and sent me to Hartford as assistant in their
store there. After I had been with them for a month, they shifted me to
their Providence store for a month as assistant manager. From there I
was sent out as traveling inspector, and spent two months in visiting
each of the stores and spending a day or two at each one. Then I was
called to New York--as you know, they have their head office there--and
was coached in methods of handling the records which they required store
managers to send in to the office.

"Not only did they tell me what records had to be made out, and how they
had to be made out, but they showed me what happened to them when they
reached the New York office, and also explained very clearly the need
for all those records.

"I learned more about business, Jackdaw, in those six months than I ever
knew before. They didn't just tell me what to do, but they told me why
it had to be done. Every question that I asked them about running a
store they answered for me. No trouble seemed too great for them to
take, if it was going to help me to understand how they did business. I
thought they were telling me altogether too much; they were telling the
secrets of the conduct of the business; but Mr. Marcosson (he's a weird
combination--a Scotchman with a sense of humor)--Mr. Marcosson is the
general sales manager--he said that I couldn't be any use to them,
unless I knew all about the business; what the goods would cost me in
the store, how much profit I ought to make, how much turn-over I ought
to get, and Oh! it would take me a month to tell you all the facts they
gave me.

"One thing has stuck out clearly in my mind from this training, and that
is, that I can do my work for them much better than would have been
possible if I had been working under an ordinary store proprietor. I
know _why_ things should be done. There's real horse sense at the back
of every move they take. They don't guess at things. They find out. If
you were to ask me what accounts for the big success of chain-store
organizations I should say that it is that the chain-store organization
_knows_ what it is doing, while the ordinary retailer _guesses_ at what
he is doing. For instance, they are looking for towns for two men who
are going through the same training that I went through--"

"Do you mean to tell me, Roger," I broke in, "that they spent six
months' time in training you, when you might leave them at any minute?"

"H'm, h'm," said Roger, "that's a fact. Marcosson said that, as soon as
any one could do better for me than they could, they expected me to
leave. And it is a fact that, out of all the managers they have had,
only three of them have left. Of course, it's a fairly young
organization--been in existence only about five or six years; but the
employees are treated so well that they rarely want to leave.

"You know I get an interest in the profits the store makes--"

And that reminded me, I hadn't yet worked out that profit-sharing plan
for my people! It had been no easy job.

"Another thing," continued Roger, "Marcosson said that impressed me very
much. 'We are going to give you a share in the profits, Mr. Burns,' he
said, 'because we believe it is due you.' You know, Jackdaw, Marcosson
is the kind of man you can speak right out to--not the kind of man you
get scared of at all; so I said to him: 'I've heard many people say that
profit-sharing isn't a success.' 'So far as we are concerned, it is,' he
said. 'Most retailers who go into profit-sharing plans go into them with
but a very slight study of the problem. They don't think the thing
through to a logical conclusion, and they put into operation some
half-baked plan which, of course, does not work out right, and then,
instead of blaming the plan they damn the policy as a whole!
Profit-sharing is necessary in modern retail business; but its operation
must be planned in a common-sense way to be successful. One might just
as well complain of the principles of arithmetic because one cannot do a
sum correctly!'

"But let me get back to my story of how we came here," said Roger,
lighting a fresh cigar. . . .

While he was talking, I had been looking at Roger, and comparing him to
the old Roger Burns I had known a year or so ago. He had grown
bigger--not in size, you understand, but he was a bigger man--he had a
personality which he never had had before. He had more confidence in
himself, and I attributed this to the fact that he was sure of what he
was about. He knew exactly what was expected of him--he had been trained
thoroughly to do it, and that had given him a confidence which I was
sure will make for his success in Farmdale. Frankly, I felt that, as a
competitor, he was going to be a much keener one than Stigler ever had

"The New England Hardware Company," continued Roger, "has money enough
to open as many stores as it wishes; but it can open stores only as
quickly as it can get men. So the first thing it seeks is a man who is
likely to make a good manager, then it looks for a location in which to
place him."

"Is that how all chain-store organizations do?" I asked.

"No," replied Roger. "Some of them look around for towns where the
merchants are not on to their jobs. That's the way some of the big drug
store chains in particular operate. They go around to the towns where
the existing drug-store proprietors are dead, and don't know it, and
where there is practically no competition for them, and that's where
they open the store.

"My people go at it a little differently. Where possible, however, they
try to open a store with a manager who is known in the location."

"Do they ever buy existing stores and make them part of the chain?"

"No, although some chain organizations do that."

"How do they pick out the towns to locate in?"

"When they look for a town in which to locate a store, they want to know
a lot of facts about it. They want to know, for example, whether the
town covers a large area or not. They find out if the houses are
scattered, or if the dwellings are concentrated in a small area. They
like a town that is a trading center for neighboring towns, because they
can draw from all these neighboring towns as well as from their own
local trade. If it's a manufacturing town, they want to know whether the
factories make such goods as will tend to make the labor problem steady.
For instance, they wouldn't want to locate in a town which was always
having labor troubles, or where there were periods where the factories
have to close down because they manufacture seasonal goods. In other
words, they want a town which has a regular, steady trade all the year.

"A good residential town, of course, is splendid for them. When they go
to a manufacturing town they pick out, wherever possible, a town which
has a diversified line of manufactories, instead of one which is devoted
to one line of industry. You see, that helps to avoid slack times,
because if one line is slack the other is inclined to be busy. See my

"Then they find out how many stores in their line are in the town, and
if they look alive and up to date."

"Did you think we were a dead lot?" I asked.

"Sorry you asked me that," said Roger with a grin. "They did. Yes, they
think that old Barlow has the only real store in the town."

"And me and Stigler?" I said interestedly, even if ungrammatically.

"Well, they think Stigler is a joke, and that you are--" he hesitated
for a word--"inexperienced!"

"So they think that Barlow,--old-fashioned, plug-along Barlow--is the
only real competitor in the town?"

"Yes. You see, Barlow does twice as much trade as you and Stigler put
together, and then some."

I had never realized before that Barlow was so much a bigger man than I
was, but the more I thought of it the more I believed that the
chain-store people had sized up the situation correctly.

"Then," continued Roger, "they find out where the people live; if they
own their own houses, or if they rent them. Obviously, a town where
people own their own homes is going to offer a more regular and
permanent trade than one where every one lives in rented houses. Then
they want to find out how and when the great number of employees in the
manufacturing plants are paid. They want to know this so that they can
offer special sale goods and such-like on the day that the people get
the money."

That was a new one on me. I had never thought of that before.

"Everybody pays on Saturdays, don't they?" I asked.

"Everybody used to, but it is by no means uncommon, now, for factories
to pay the help on Thursday and Friday.

"When they've studied this question, they next study the business
streets to learn which are the most important.

"The most important to them does not necessarily mean the main street of
the town, but the one which offers the greatest number of passersby, who
are likely to be customers. For instance, they want to know where the
people congregate in the streets in the evening. Do they go past the
drug store and past the most popular movie theater? Do the men go
through the town on the way home, or can they get home without going
through the shopping section?

"Now, some concerns, such as the big chain cigar store people, plan to
get the corner which has the greatest number of people passing it. They
have tellers stand outside various corners and count the number of
people going each way during various hours of the day. But our people do
differently," said Roger, with a pride that made me realize that the
instruction they had given him had certainly developed in him absolute
confidence in his people. "We try to get stores with a reasonable rent
just off the main thoroughfares, but so located that we catch as many
passersby as possible.

"Now, we are opening in Macey Street, although High and Main are
unquestionably our two main thoroughfares here."

Macey Street is a narrow street running from the post-office, which is
on Main Street, facing Macey, and connecting with High. On High Street
is the theater and two of the moving-picture houses. The railroad
station, also, is on High, a little way from Macey.

"Now, on Main Street," said Roger, "are all our business and
professional men. Their best way to get home is down Macey into High,
either to the depot or to the trolley junction in front of the depot.
Thus you see we catch the bulk of the people coming from Main to High
and from High to Main. The rent is even less than you pay," he said with
a smile, "and yet we have a location which is several times better than

I felt as if I wanted to kick myself when he said that. If I had only
known that. I had bought the store, but I had never even thought that I
might have gotten a better location than I had.

"Then the next thing we have to consider," said Roger, "is whether or
not we are on the right side of the street. Now, you may or may not know
it, but the right side of the street is the one which has the greatest
amount of shade in the summer. You see, in the heat of the summer,
people prefer to walk in the shade, and consequently they take the shady
side of the street. In the winter, if there is any snow, it makes the
sunny side of the street sloppy, so that people still walk on the shady

"H'm. Stigler's got one over me, then, because he's on the shady side of
the road."

"Yes, we reckoned that Stigler had a bit better location than you had.
But he evidently does not know it, else he wouldn't have wasted that
money opening the five-and-ten-cent store next door to you."

"He's doing a big business," I said ruefully.

"Wait till after Christmas. The Christmas season is a big time for
five-and-ten-cent stores such as his. But wait until February, and he'll
'find it's a rocky road to Dublin.'"

I certainly felt good to hear that. Roger grinned.

"Tell you, old man," he said, stretching over and putting his hand on
my knee, "I don't like Stigler, and I'd like to go for his scalp, only
my company insists that I'm here to sell goods to the people, and not to
compete with any one else. But, if the time ever comes that you can get
a bit better location than you have, do so. You see, old man, the bulk
of your people have to go to the store. You don't get a great amount of
people passing it naturally.

"Another reason we chose this location is that we are just between you
and Barlow."

"How is that any help?"

"Well, it helps in this way. Some one passing your store suddenly
remembers that she wants something--a saucepan, let us say. She has
already walked by your store and doesn't bother to turn back. A little
later on she comes to my store. I get the benefit of the suggestions
which occur to people as they pass your store."

I could hardly believe that. It sounded too much like--oh, quackery; and
I told Roger so.

"All right, old man," he said with a smile. "But have you ever noticed
when you go to a big city that you will find a man at one corner selling
apples and then there is a man on the next corner doing the same thing.
You will notice how people pass the first one, then take a few seconds
to think it over, or the suggestion is just a little one, and it is
strengthened when they come to the second stand. The same thing applies
to a group of stores. As an example of this: In Jacksonville, Fla.,
there are not less than six hardware stores located in one block. That
town of sixty thousand people has several good business streets, but
this group of stores has become known as 'The Hardware Center' and
people gravitate there for anything they want in the hardware line.
Those stores benefit by being together. The same thing applies in a
smaller way to a street of stores. One store by itself doesn't impel the
buying instinct, but a street of stores puts the thought of buying into
the minds of people passing them."

Well, that certainly was mighty interesting. Roger silently smoked for
some minutes. I thought he had finished his story, but there was more.

"Then, when we had got the store," he said, "we found there were two
little steps leading to it. We had these removed, and put in a slope
from the street to the floor. It is easier for people to walk up a slope
than up two steps. Then, if you notice, we have had the windows altered.
There were two panes in each window. We have had them taken out and one
big glass put in each one. Then we have had a new lighting system put
in. And then you notice that the outside of the store has been painted
an olive green. That is the distinctive color of our stores, and also is
a color which harmonizes with our goods.

"Now, we have given a lot of care to lighting and to the outside
appearance of the store. We have some good display counters inside the
store, but we have only cheap deal fixtures. We haven't spent much money
on fixtures, because they have not quick-asset value."

"What in the name of thunder is that?"

"Well, a quick-asset value is the value that an article will fetch at a
forced sale, and it is the policy of the company to invest in nothing
that will deteriorate as rapidly as expensive fixtures do."

"It certainly is wonderful," I said. "They seem to have thought of
everything, haven't they?"

"Yes, indeed; even to the point that we have a lease on the store with a
clause in it that, if we give it up, it is not to be rented for another
hardware business for at least twelve months after the expiration of our

"Did they stand for that?"

"You bet they did."

"What's the idea?"

"Well, we believe we have the best location, but we are not sure. Now,
if we find in two or three years' time that we haven't got the location,
we will get a better one. In that case, we are not going to make it
possible for some one to take that same location and scoop up our
business, because another hardware store, coming in there, would reap
the benefit of all the publicity we gave to the store. Do you see the

I saw the point all right. That conversation with Roger Burns was a
revelation to me. If only I had given the same thought and care to
getting a store how much better off I'd have been!

Another thing I realized from Roger's talk. They plugged ahead steadily.
They didn't leave anything undone. They didn't make any false moves;
while I--I was almost a joke!



We had been increasing our sales on men's toilet articles, and were
selling anywhere from $5.00 to $10.00 worth of those goods a week. Mind
you, not razors, but soap, and talcum powder, and such-like.

Larsen had been studying a book on window trimming, and had learned that
there were two ways of trimming windows. One way was to put in a lot of
goods that were associated with each other, and another was to put in
just one class of goods to make a forceful appeal. So, Larsen conceived
the idea of a special window trim, using the second idea. We had been in
the habit of mixing a number of different kinds of goods in our window.
His idea was just the opposite.

The display was to be of the Middle's razor, which I sold exclusively in
our town, and which I thought was the best of all the dollar razors.
Well, Larsen started to tell me his idea; but I told him to go ahead and
work it out in his own way.

He got some cheap, dark-blue cloth, and hung it in a semi-circle in the
window from top to bottom. Then he covered the floor of the window with
the same material. He then got a piece of cardboard and bent it into the
shape of a cone about 2 ft. 6 in. at the base, and not above half an
inch at the top. This he also covered with the same cloth, placing it
in the center of the window. About a foot above the cone he hung a
single electric bulb, with a shade over it made of cardboard, and again
covered with the cloth. The light was therefore directed full on the top
of the cone, and the bulb itself was out of sight. There was no other
light in the window. On the apex of the cone he placed one Middle's
razor--not in the box--oh, no. He took the razor out of the box, fitted
a blade into it and rested it on the top of the cone. On the floor,
resting against the cone, was a card which read as follows:

     This is the Middle's Razor--the safety razor that
     really shaves. It is quick, clean, and comfortable to
     use. I consider this razor such good value that one is
     sufficient to fill the window. One dollar each.

     Come inside and I'll tell you why
     A Middle's Razor you should buy.


When I saw that window it looked to me like a joke. My looks evidently
indicated that to Larsen. I had never been much of a believer in stunts
for window trimming. I had thought it better to have people come into
the store and buy something, than just say what a clever window display
we had--and walk by. I was standing outside the window, looking at it,
when Larsen joined me.

"You don't like it, no?"

"Well," I said, "it looks to me too--oh, what's the word I want?--oh,
you know what I mean--too smart-alecky!" We both laughed. "It isn't
dignified enough, you know."


"Say, Boss," said Larsen, and then he couldn't continue on account of a
coughing spell. Poor old Larsen. For several weeks he hadn't been
feeling right. He had caught a hard cold and wouldn't rest, and it
didn't seem to get any better. It had worried me sometimes, because he
wasn't as young as he used to be. I suggested to him that he lay off
work for a little while, but he wouldn't hear of it.

When he had recovered from his coughing spell, he said:

"Say, Boss, that book on window trimming. It say trim with one line of
goods. All razors, or all scissors, make folks stop. If a lot make 'em
stop, just one by itself will. Folks'll come across the road to see what
it is."

Well, we used the window trim as it was, except that, at the last
minute, we changed the sign.

"Do you remember that pencil sharpener salesman that came here?" I asked
Larsen. "Remember him telling us about that sale of women's hats, where
they could get in only by ticket?"


"Well, it was a Chicago store. They sold women's hats. On certain days
you could get into the store only by ticket, and the store was swamped
with people then, because--oh, I don't know why, but they thought that
they were favored by getting the ticket. Why not put on the sign that
these razors won't be sold until Saturday?"

"That's good. But nothing special here-- No new style like in women's

"Well," I said, defending my idea, "the drug stores sell regular candy,
special on Saturday."

"Yep, but they give special price. We ain't cutting it."

Then Larsen forgot himself and slapped me on the back, saying: "I got
it, Boss. Put this razor on sale Friday and Saturday only, and give a
can of shaving powder to each customer!"

"Heavens, no! Shaving powder sells for 25 cents."

"It costs us only twelve. Razor and soap together don't cost a dollar.
We make profit on it, and--and--they buy more powder soon."

Well, we did it; we added to the sign: "To every purchaser of a Middle
Razor, Friday and Saturday only, will be given a can of Dulcet Shaving

I wanted to put a can of the powder in the window as well, but Larsen
was against it; and, as it was his show, I let him have his own way with

"How many of the razors have we in stock?" I asked.

"We got three dozen last week. We ain't broke the package yet."

"Oh, that'll be plenty," I said. . . .

By ten thirty Friday morning we had sold every Middle's Razor in stock,
and I had telegraphed for six dozen more to come by express. As they
were made in this State, they should arrive the first thing in the
morning. By Friday night I had orders for sixty-four razors,--and I also
had had to telegraph for more shaving powder. Well, up to closing time
on Saturday, we had sold a hundred and fifty-nine Middle's razors! We
couldn't supply them, of course, although the six dozen we had ordered
came in time, so we merely took orders on Friday afternoon and
Saturday, and promised to deliver the razors as soon they came. In
practically every case, however, we had got the money.

Think of it, a hundred and fifty-nine razors in our town. I couldn't
understand why so many people bought them. Also, it had been a
revelation to me to find how many women had come in for this bargain
offer. Two or three people had come on Thursday to buy it, but we
wouldn't sell them. That window certainly had attracted a lot of
attention, particularly at night. There had been a number of people
around it all the time.

Poor Larsen collapsed altogether from the strain of the two busy days,
and had to place himself under the doctor's care.

The next evening I called at the doctor's and he said that Larsen had
really a serious illness.

"You don't mean," I said, "that there is any chance that he will--"

The doctor was silent for a minute, pursed his lips, then said slowly:
"I don't know. It would not be a serious thing for a young man, but he
is not a young man, and he is poorly nourished."

Larsen's absence certainly made Jones and Jimmie and me hustle. In the
first place I had to take out that window trim of the Middle's Razor,
for, as our sale was over, we did not want to keep the display going. In
fact, when I went to see old Larsen, sick as he was, his first weak
remark had been, "You took the trim out, Boss?" I told him yes, and
added that we had a fine display of enamelware in its place. Mrs. Larsen
told me that he had been worrying all day. He seemed a bit easier when I

The whole week was a week of trouble. On Tuesday morning Henderson was
driving his car past the store and frightened Haywood's old horse (poor
thing, I never thought he could move so quickly) so that he bolted and
ran his foolish old head through the store window--just after I had my
nice display of enamelware ready. It cost me over thirty dollars to get
it put right.

I met old Barlow at the Élite Restaurant that day and he remarked,
"Makes it quite inconvenient doesn't it? Have you telephoned the
insurance people about it yet?"

"Insurance people?"

"Yes, plate-glass insurance people."

I felt the color surging into my face as I answered, "Why, no, I haven't
got around to it yet."

As a matter of fact, I didn't even know I could insure my plate-glass
windows. It was another loss I had to bear just because of my ignorance.

There was one funny little incident in connection with the broken
window-pane, however, and it came from Jimmie. When I got back to the
store, that freckled-face rascal said, "Gee, Boss, I've got a whale of
an idea!"

"What is it?" I asked.

"Why not put a big sign in the window offering a ten per cent.

"That's a silly idea. Why should we do that?"

"You don't get me, Boss," he said. "Here!" and he handed me a brick.

"What am I to do with this?" I asked in surprise. "Hit people on the
head as they go by the store, grab their money and give them a dishpan
in its place?"

I feared Jimmie would burst if I didn't let him finish his story.

"Put the brick in the window, Boss," he said excitedly, "then stick a
sign on it saying, 'Who threw this brick through our window, and knocked
ten per cent. off the price of everything?'"

It sounded silly; but, somehow, it interested me. I think the thing that
interested me most was that Jimmie should be looking for some way to
turn misfortune into profit. At any rate, I put that sign in the window
just as Jimmie suggested, with the added line that, as soon as the
window was repaired, prices would go back to normal.

I believe that Jimmie spent every minute of his spare time out of the
store telling people to come and see his big selling idea, for numbers
of people said to me, "Yes, I heard about your window with the brick
from your errand boy--smart kid that!" and then they would grin. It got
me some business, and started a lot of talking. I remembered what Barlow
had once said: "Keep them talking about you; and be thankful when people
pitch into you. Nobody ever bothers to kick a dead dog." I was mighty
glad it had not been our other window, though, for that had contained a
splendid show of electrical household goods.

Wednesday I had dinner again with Roger Burns. He told me that the chain
store for which he was manager had opened in good shape, and that on the
opening day they had given a clock calendar to the visitors as a
souvenir. It had been a cheap clock in a metal frame, so made that it
would either hang on the wall or stand on a shelf, while attached to it
below was a year's calendar. Above the clock had been written the

"All the time is the right time to buy kitchen goods from the New
England Hardware Company."

Below the face of the clock was the address and Roger Burns' name as

Roger said something, that night, that interested me mightily.

"One reason why chain stores make a success is that they try to dominate
the field in one direction. For example, look at the five-and-ten-cent
stores. Notice how they all dominate any other store of their kind. They
have something distinctive and unusual about them. Notice the places of
the big drug and tobacco chain-store systems. They dominate in some
particular way!"

That word "dominate" stuck in my mind. "How do you purpose to dominate?"
I asked of Roger.

"Well, in one way we are dominating in the brush field now. At our new
store here, I have a bigger variety of household brushes than all the
other stores put together. We have anything in the way of a brush that
you want; and they're all good ones, too. . . . Most people dominate in
some way," he continued. "Mr. Barlow dominates for miles around in
agricultural implements."

"And I?" I said.

"Well, you are hardly dominating _yet_, but you could, if you wanted to,
in electrical domestic goods and men's toilet goods."

"Good Heavens," I said, "they're both side lines!"

"Exactly," he said, "but you were the first in town to push those side
lines, so you scooped up the new trade for that kind of goods; and, if
any one gets after your scalp, you might dominate in those lines.
Marcosson, our general sales manager, says that the first in the field
can dominate it if he will vigorously push his advantage. Think of all
the well-known advertised things--the people whose names are most
familiar to you--those which practically dominate their field--are those
which were there first."

After we had smoked another cigar, we parted, but all the way home, that
one word, "domination," stuck in my mind. I had what I had thought were
two profitable side lines; while other people--people who should
know--looked upon them as something which was exclusively mine.
Domination! I wondered if I could develop some special lines, such as
electrical and toilet goods, which I could consistently and persistently
push until every one in town would naturally connect my name with those
goods whenever they wanted to buy them.

There's quite a fascination about the word "domination," isn't there?
Everybody dominates in some way. There was _Hardware Times_! They
dominated in the trade-journal field. Roosevelt dominates in
aggressiveness. Edison dominates in electrical inventions. Burbank
dominates in growing things. Jimmie--let's see what Jimmie dominated
in--well, I guess Jimmie dominated in freckles. George Field, I should
say, would dominate in good nature. I thought it would be interesting to
have a little game with myself in looking at people and stores and
places and find out in what way they dominated and see if from this kind
of observation I could find out not only in what they dominated, but
how and why they dominated!

When I got home I tried for an hour to write slogans, such as "If it's
electrical you can get it at Black's;" "Go to Black's for a white deal;"
"You naturally think of Black's when you think of toilet goods;" and
such-like, but I didn't think much of them, when I got through.

There was one thing, however, that I decided on--and that was to
increase my stock of those goods with which I meant to dominate the
field. I would always have them on show and advertise them as
consistently as my small advertising allowance would permit.

It surely had been a dreadful week with Larsen sick. I never knew how
much I had been leaning on him. When he came back, I was resolved, to
look after him better than I had done before. I guess there are a lot of
bosses, the same as I, who really don't realize how valuable their
employees are to them until they have lost them. Some employees probably
dominate--there's that word dominate again!--in some phase of the
store's activities in such an unobtrusive way that their work is not
appreciated as it should be. The trouble is that the good worker is
usually a poor self-advertiser, while the clever self-advertiser often
cannot deliver the goods that he is advertising. I determined that, if
ever I got a really big store with a lot of help, I would find some way
of knowing what every one did, so that the fellow that did things would
not be pushed to one side by the fellow who merely elevated himself with

Just as I was going to bed I had an inspiration, and I found what I
would try to dominate in--SERVICE!



When the Mater got back, I felt more like a human being again. What a
wonderful thing a mother is! A fellow doesn't realize how much his
mother means to him until he wants her badly.

Barrington's demand that I pay off the mortgage on the farm had been
worrying me, so I went to the bank and saw Mr. Blickens to find out if I
could get the bank to lend me the necessary $1,250.00. Blickens said the
bank couldn't possibly do it, but that he knew a private individual who
could perhaps be induced to take over the mortgage. I asked him to look
into it and let me know.

A couple of days afterward he telephoned me to call and see him, and
then he told me that he could raise the $1,250.00, to be covered by a
first mortgage on the farm; but that, on account of the unsalability of
the property at a forced sale, his friend would have to have ten per
cent. interest.

I whistled at this.

"Well, take it or leave it, my young friend," he said. "If you can do
better, why do it; but remember that Barrington will foreclose, unless
you raise that money for him by the first of February."

Blickens had a note all made out, and I noticed his name appeared on

"I--I thought it was--some one you knew who was going to--"

"A mere formality; I am just doing it for a friend."

I knew at once that Blickens was his own friend in this case. I noticed
also that I had to reduce the loan at the rate of $50.00 a month.

"That may seem a high rate of interest to you," said Blickens, smoothly;
"but really I am doing it for your good."

That was what Dad had always said when he spanked me, but I never could
see it his way!

There was nothing else to do, so I closed the deal with him and the
mortgage was transferred from Barrington to Blickens, who, I guess,
borrowed the money himself from the bank at three or four per cent., and
pocketed the difference for his trouble. It seemed to me that there were
more ways than one of making money in a bank.

That day I lunched at the Élite Restaurant, where I met old Barlow. To
my surprise he asked me to go around to his house to dinner that night.
I told him that I couldn't do that very well, because the Mater had just
come home.

"Bring her with you," he said; so the Mater and I went to Barlow's
house, where, for the first time, I met Mrs. Barlow.

Mrs. Barlow had been an invalid for a number of years and consequently
had not been a factor in such social life as Farmdale boasted of. I was
surprised to see how different Mr. Barlow was while with his wife--as
sweet and kindly and gentle as a woman. I couldn't help comparing the
difference between him at his home and at his business. There, while
always courteous, he was considered cold and hard and exacting. When I
came to think of it, however, I was not surprised at finding him so
kindly, considerate and full of love for his wife, because I remembered
the many kindnesses and quiet help that he had given me.

After dinner Mrs. Barlow and the Mater went up to the little
sitting-room, while he and I stayed behind to smoke a cigar. We smoked
in silence for a while. Then Barlow said abruptly, "By the way, Dawson,
do you know how many automobiles went through Farmdale last summer?"

"No," I said, "I haven't the least idea--nor frankly any interest,
either. I don't own a car."

"Neither do I," he said (he didn't, but he owned the finest pair of
trotters in the county), "but we have some interest in everything that
affects Farmdale."

"Surely," I returned, "and I quite agree that, if a lot of automobiles
come through Farmdale, and stop at the Farmdale House, it helps their
business and indirectly helps us."

"One hundred and seventeen a day," said Barlow.

"One hundred and seventeen what a day?"

"One hundred and seventeen automobiles a day. Every day from April to
October, an average of a hundred and seventeen automobiles passed
through Farmdale."

I didn't know what he meant.

"Frankly, Mr. Barlow, I know you have a good idea in mind, but really I
don't see what you're driving at."

"About twenty-four thousand automobiles altogether come in and out of
Farmdale during the summer season. If only ten per cent. of those people
stopped here for gasoline, and bought an average of ten gallons each,
there would have been sold 23,570 gallons of gasoline. Suppose there was
only a profit of three cents a gallon on that, it would have meant net
income of $707.10. Now I think that figure could probably be multiplied
by three, although, of course, I don't know how many stopped here, and
how much gas they bought. We have only two garages in this town. One is
a fairly good one, Martin's, and the other, Joe Sneider's--well, I'd
sooner trust my car, if I had one, to Stigler than to Joe Sneider."

It was a fact that Sneider had a very bad reputation around town.
Indeed, they called him the legalized robber.

"So we may say," continued Barlow, "that there is only one real garage
in town. There are eighty-four automobiles registered in this town, but
we are near enough to Harton for many of our people to go there for all
repairs. You see, the makers have agencies there, and that is one reason
why they go there for all car adjustments and new parts. The other
reason is that Martin has more work than he can possibly take care of."

"Say," I broke in impetuously, "are you thinking of opening a garage?"

"Not by any means," laughed Barlow, "but you're situated in one end of
the town, and I am at the other. People coming in or out of town have to
pass both our stores. I have had a very good contract offered me for
Starling gasoline; but I don't think I could sell all they want me to
take. Now, how would you like to sell gasoline and join me in this

"But, Mr. Barlow, I'm a hardware man--I'm not--" and then I stopped,
remembering how old Larsen felt at that attitude and how he jeered at
the tendency of all-too-many hardware men to let drug stores and
department stores sell legitimate hardware lines, and do nothing but
retaliate; and so I finished "but I'm not averse to adding to my line,
if I can see a profit in it."

Barlow noticed the change in thought and smiled.

"You think it over to-morrow; and if you would like to join me in it,
why I don't see why we shouldn't both make some money out of it."

Then I remembered the state of my bank account. It reminded me of the
story of the man who complained that some one had broken into his house
and stolen his over-draft.

"I'm very sorry, sir, but I haven't the money to do it."

"If you had the money, you think you would like to do it?"

"Why, yes, it looks good to me on those figures you state."

"Well, suppose I were to buy all the stock, and pay for it, and then
charge it up to you at half a cent a gallon profit, and then let you pay
me each week for what you have sold. You would perhaps be interested in
buying it?"

"Yes, indeed. But frankly, Mr. Barlow, I can't see why you would want to
do that."

"The reason is, young man," said Barlow grimly, "that, if I contract
for twenty-five thousand gallons I can get a much better price than if I
contract for, let us say, half that amount. Also, I don't think I could
sell it all from my store. The garage is near the center of the town; so
that, unless some one is selling gas the other side of the garage man,
his would be the first station reached by people entering the town from
that side. Consequently, he would get half the trade. Now, he runs a
competing gas station, so I couldn't possibly work with him. Hence I am
willing to back you on this, because it won't cost me anything. And even
if I make half a cent on all you use, it doesn't cost you anything,
because you buy at even less than you would buy a smaller quantity
direct from the Starling people."

Pretty shrewd reasoning, wasn't it? When I got home, I talked it over
with the Mater. She said, "But, Dawson, my boy, if people were to stop
at your store and buy some gasoline" (the Mater is very old-fashioned,
and doesn't believe in clipping words and thinks it vulgar to call it
"gas"), "would not some of the owners of the automobiles want supplies
of different kinds, and if they want supplies, aren't they likely to go
to the garage for them, and then buy their gasoline there? Now, Mr.
Martin is a very nice gentleman, and you don't want to do anything that
will hurt him--"

"Unless I can materially help myself!"

The Mater shook her head. "These new-fangled business ideas are strange
to me."

But what the Mater said made me think; so that, in the morning, I went
to Barlow and told him I would really like to go into the gasoline
business, but that, if I did, I would have to go into the automobile
accessory business also.

"When any one is buying gas," I said, "they are good prospects for oil
and accessories generally. If a man has a break-down, why that's a job
for the garage; but, if he wants only supplies, I don't see why he
couldn't get them from a hardware store just as well as anywhere else.
Now, Mr. Barlow, I'll gladly pay you that half a cent on the gas, and
I'll push it for you all I can, but I feel that I would have to sell
automobile accessories too. So, if you will buy accessories also, and
let me have a small stock, on sale or return, for just three months, I
will pay you a small percentage of profit for your help, and guarantee,
at the end of the three months, to carry my own automobile department
without any help from you."

He tapped his counter slowly with his pencil for a few moments.

"I don't want to go into the automobile accessory business. I have no
room for it at all; but I do want to sell gasoline because it is easily
handled and earns a good profit. However, I will help you to get a
supply of accessories. You go to Boston and find out just what it will
cost you. Go and see Alex Cantling of Cantling & Farmer. They're big
machinery people, and Alex Cantling is a good friend of mine, and is as
shrewd a man as there is in the trade. Ask him how much you would have
to buy, and then come back and tell me. If it is a nominal amount to
start with, I wouldn't mind guaranteeing the account for you for three
months. Now you will have to excuse me, for I am very busy. Come and see
me as soon as you get the thing worked out."

"When are you going to start the gas?" I asked.

"Not before April. By the way," said he, putting his hand on my
shoulder, "I must ask you not to say word of this to any one."

"But I have already mentioned it to the Mater."

"H'm. Well, would you ask her please not to mention it to any one? If,
by any chance, she has, I must reserve the right to call off all offers.
By the way, I expect my boy, Fred, home in about a month's time."

Fred was old Barlow's one and only child. He had been in Detroit,
working in a big automobile shop for some time, and I had understood
that he was coming back on a visit to Farmdale. The old man and Fred had
never got along very well together, and Fred had left because the old
man wanted him to work in the store and he positively refused to do so.

I didn't know what it all meant, but I had a feeling that Barlow wasn't
offering to set me up in the automobile business just out of love for
me. He had some other reason for it and I decided to think twice before
I definitely accepted. I knew he would give me a square deal, because he
was such a white man, but it looked almost too good to be true that he
would carry a gas account for me, and then guarantee an automobile
accessory account for three months. He had never asked even for a note,
or anything, for his own protection.



The sun had begun to shine once more. I had a feeling as if a little
dicky-bird were singing in my heart. There was blue again in the sky and
the wind didn't always come from the East. I had received a night letter
from Betty. She was leaving Birmingham the next week and was going with
the aunt to a place she had in Florida to stay there a month, and then
she was coming right home! I don't think I had realized how much I
missed my dear one until I found she was coming home and was feeling
herself again. I had just finished reading the telegram when the Mater
came downstairs, and in my joy I caught her around the waist and swung
her round twice until her feet left the floor.

"Mercy on us!" she exclaimed, as I set her on a chair gasping, "what has
got into the boy?"

"Just happiness, that's all! Betty is coming home in a month."

"Gracious," said Mater, with a twinkle in her eye, "I really thought it
was something important!"

When I got down to the store who did I see but Larsen, still weak and
very pale, but dear old Larsen back again. I suppose I'm sentimental,
but I had grown to like the old chap, and it sure had been mighty hard
while he was away.

The doctor had said he could come down for two or three hours each day
for a few weeks, but must not put in his full time yet.

Of course I had paid him his salary all the time he was away, and would
continue to do so, for I'd come to realize that a boss owes it to his
employees to look after them if they are in hard luck, and incidentally
it is good business to keep one's employees happy. I believe that happy,
cheerful employees keep the cash register ringing, "Welcome, little
stranger" chimes.

Just as I got in, old Peter Bender, the carpenter, came in the store. He
came very seldom, for, since I had stopped his credit, he could only
come when he was able to pay cash. Now, before I tell you what happened,
I must remind you of what had taken place some few months before when I
pulled off my stunt of buying mail-order catalogs. Well, for a time it
had looked as if the stunt had done good to every merchant in the town;
but it wasn't very long before mail-order catalogs were in town again as
thick as ever.

I had had an occasional "ad" in our local paper saying, "Buy it in town
if the price is right, but don't pay more than you can buy it for
elsewhere. If it is anything in hardware, I will guarantee to supply it
at the same price as the mail-order houses, and you can see what you are
getting before you buy it."

I don't think the "ad" had done us a great deal of good generally, but
there were a few people, who used to buy from the mail-order houses, who
had begun to buy from me.

Now, I'll tell you what happened between Peter and Larsen.

"I want an ax like this 'ere one," Peter said, displaying the picture of
an ax in a mail-order catalog which he had with him. "How much is it?"

"Seventy-five cents," said Larsen.

"A-ha!" snarled Peter, "I'll give yer sixty-three cents for it. Yer say
yer can sell it as cheap as a mail-order house--and that's their price!"
He put his finger on the catalog to verify his statement.

"All right," said Larsen. Whereupon Bender belligerently planted
sixty-three cents on the counter.

"Hold hard," continued Larsen. "Gimme three cents for the money order, a
cent for yer letter paper, and two cents for the stamp. That's another
six cents. That's fair, you know--you must pay us what it would have
cost yer."

Peter looked at me. "Guess you're right," he said, and threw the other
six cents on the counter.

"Now," said Larsen, as he picked up the money, "you come back in three
weeks. You can then have the ax."

"What do yer mean?" asked old Peter, with astonishment.

"You sent Chicago, that's how long you wait to get it."

"Well, I want it _now_."

"Yep, but not from a mail-order house," said Larsen.

"What will I have to pay to get it at once?"

"Six cents more--that's seventy-five cents. Otherwise yer can't have it
fer three weeks. But yer can look at it now, if yer want ter, so yer'll
see what yer will get!"

"Aw, cut out the funny stuff!" said Peter, putting his hand in his
pocket, from which he produced another six cents. "It's worth it to get
it right away."

Larsen wrapped up the ax and passed it over to him, and, to my surprise,
old Bender said: "I guess you're about right on this thing, after all.
You know I never sized it up like that 'til you pointed it out to me.
Here," and he tossed the catalog on the counter, "I guess I won't need
this no more."

Larsen had handled several customers in the past in a similar way to
this, and, in nearly every case, had won a friend for us and the
mail-order houses had lost a customer.

You remember I had decided that I would dominate in _service_? Well, I
got hold of Fellows of the Flaxon Advertising Company, and told him what
I wanted and that I'd a hunch that if I had a little leaflet or
something of that kind, telling people I wanted to give them service,
and put the leaflet in all the packages that left the store, it would
help out a lot. I gave him a few ideas I had on it and asked him to work
up a little folder. When I received the layout of it I was tickled with
it. It was so good that I ordered some at once. The beauty of the folder
was that it didn't matter what you were selling or who you were selling
to, it applied, because it was general, not specific.

Fellows told me I ought to copyright the idea and then sell it to other
stores in other towns. I told him he could do that--I was in the
hardware business--not the advertising business.

I give this little folder here, because I thought it was very good.

It had four pages and the size of it was about 4 × 7½ inches.


    This one-minute sales talk tells how
    we try to do it

    32 Hill Street, Farmdale

     A well-known business man once said that salesmanship
     "is selling goods, that won't come back, to
     customers--who will."

     It requires more than _sales_manship to do this--it
     also requires _buy_manship and _service_.

     We realize this. We know that every purchase you make
     in our store must have _service_ with it.

     Service--good service--is supplying your needs in the
     best, quickest, and most economical way.

     So we start by buying right. When a clever salesman
     offers us some job goods at a long-profit price, we
     just can't hear him, but, when he offers us goods that
     will win us satisfied friend-customers, we can easily
     hear his faintest whisper.

     We don't blindly take his word for it, either; for,
     while we have a lot to learn, we know how to judge
     values, because we know our business--we are practical.

     But _service_ does not stop here. Our goods must be
     kept in perfect condition. Our goods must never get
     into a "frowsty," shop-damaged state.

     Careful buying helps us to get goods that command a
     ready sale. They are fitted exactly to our
     friend-customers' needs.

     This is why we have earned the confidence and good-will
     of so many people. They know they get what they
     need--and not just what a salesman wants to get rid of.

     We sometimes refuse to sell to a customer because we
     know that he needs something different from what we

     Sounds funny, doesn't it, to turn money away? But it
     pays us, because people know we consider their needs
     first--our welfare automatically follows.

     Most stores have policies. One of ours is: "No goods
     must be sold, unless they will be of real service to
     the customer."

     Another fixed policy is: "We must show our
     friend-customers by our conduct that we are glad to
     serve them."

     Here's a confession. We actually make a profit on
     everything we sell. Doesn't matter what you buy, we
     make something on the deal.

     We think it better to do this than to "cut" the price
     on some goods and add it on to others. Don't you?

     Just one other thing. There's no such word as "trouble"
     in our dictionary. We are glad to go out of our way to
     supply your unusual needs.

     This little sales talk is neatly printed for you to
     read; we mean every word of it.

     We would like to tell it to you in person if we could--

     Of course! So we can. We can prove it all to you by

     Call and look at our goods; then check up our service
     by this sales talk.

At the bottom of the fourth page appeared, "Yours for hardware service,
Dawson Black," reproduced in my own handwriting.

"Get the idea?" said Fellows. "If you're a grocer, you could write,
'Yours for grocery service, John Brown,' or if a retail merchant wanted
to specialize on one particular thing he could say, 'Yours for carpet
cleaning service,' or anything he liked."

The whole thing was so worded as to fit in with any kind of goods one
might be selling.

Fellows said he would look after the printing of the circulars and
supply them to me at a very low price, four dollars a thousand; and he
said he wouldn't charge me anything at all for working up the idea,
because he was going to try to sell some of the folders to other stores
in other towns. I didn't mind what he did with it, for it let me out
very cheaply. He said he would let me have some in a week, so I ordered
two thousand to begin with. I was going to put one in each package, and
mail one to every one of our charge customers, besides sending them to a
select list of "prospects."



As soon as I had time, I went to Boston and saw Alex Cantling, as Barlow
had suggested, to find out how much money it would take to start an
automobile accessory department.

Alex Cantling was a big-boned, clean-shaven, healthy-looking man. He was
what I would call a brass-tack man. When I told him my business, he
pushed his papers aside and gave me his undivided attention. Then after
a little while he did some figuring on a piece of paper.

"Well," said he, "I should say you would want to spend at least five
hundred dollars for such a department."

He promised to work out and send to me a list of the different items
which I ought to stock, and he also gave me the name of one or two good
people to buy my supplies from.

"Now, come along and have some lunch with me," and he took me to a place
near Faneuil Hall Market, where I had about the finest meal I ever had
in my life.

After lunch, he advised me to go to see Barker. As soon as I entered the
store, and looked up at the little mezzanine floor on which he worked,
he looked up and called out cheerily, "Hello, Black, come right

I was surprised that he should remember my name, for he had only seen me
once before.

Well, he told me just about the same as Cantling, so I left him and went
to see George Field, who said, "Well, if Cantling and Barker both tell
you that, you may be pretty sure it's right."

When I got back to Farmdale I had a long talk with Barlow about
automobile accessories. After I had told him how much money I wanted, he
looked out of his office window, and leaned back in his chair a few
moments, then said, "I'll lend you three hundred and fifty dollars
toward your stock of those goods. I think that that should be sufficient
to encourage you to work with me on this gasoline deal."

"There's one thing I'd like to ask Mr. Barlow, and that is, if I have to
buy gasoline second-hand from you, shall I be able to sell it at the
same price as Martin's Garage, and make a profit on it?"

"Quite as much, if not more," he replied. "You remember I told you I
would supply it to you at half a cent above what it cost me. Now, by
buying twenty-five thousand gallons' worth, I get a very low price, and
can make four cents a gallon profit on it. You then buy what you need
and make three and one-half cents profit. If you bought a small quantity
yourself, you would not make more than two and one-half to three cents,
so you really make more money, buying it through me, than buying it

"I can't for the life of me," I said, "figure out why you are so anxious
about selling gasoline."

"Can't you conceive of my wanting to make some profit on gasoline?" he
said, smiling.

"Yes," I drawled, "but--"

"See here, Dawson," he said, putting his hand on my knee, "don't you
worry about reasons, if you get a square deal. I've helped you before,
haven't I?"

"Yes, indeed," I answered quickly.

"Well, I'm helping you this time, and I'm going to make some profit on
it, as well. There'll be room enough for you and me, Black, don't

Finally it was agreed that I should see these two firms which Alex
Cantling mentioned to me, and try to arrange for three hundred and fifty
dollars' worth of accessories, with the account guaranteed by Barlow. He
said it might not be necessary for him to put in any money, but that if
he did, I must give him my note for whatever he put in. I got a bit
scared when he told me that, but he said all he would ask, as security,
was the stock of automobile accessories, so that I didn't stand to lose

I was not going to put in the supply until the beginning of April.
Barlow said he would be glad if I would not mention a word of it to any
one until that time, so I agreed not to have my automobile accessories
delivered until the oil tank was ready.

Just as I was picking up my hat to leave Barlow's office, he called me
back and said, "Do you know why your friend Stigler isn't getting on
very well? It's because he's always talking about what he is going to

"Yes, he is always shooting off his mouth," I said, "but--"

"But what?" he asked, smiling.

"Oh, nothing," I answered, "except that, when I hear he's going to pull
off some stunt, I try to get there first!"

"Exactly; if you want to make a real success of yourself, never tell any
one what you are going to do until you really do it. It's much better to
have people find out what you do by showing results, than have them know
beforehand what you are planning to do and see you fall down."

"I'll take the hint," I said; then I left him.

I wondered what Barlow's real reason was in encouraging me to go into
automobile supplies. I didn't think it was the profit he expected to
make on gasoline. I was beginning to have more respect for Barlow than I
ever had in my life, and, frankly, I was beginning to have less fear of

Stigler's five-and-ten-cent store had been very slack the last few
weeks, and really it was helping, rather than hindering, me, for, while
he displayed cheap kitchen goods and was selling them just because they
were low-price, cheap articles, I was displaying similar kinds of goods
of real merit and quality, and selling them at a good profit. Any one,
looking into his window and mine, could see no competition, for, while
the goods were similar in kind, they were so different in quality as to
preclude any possibility of comparison.

At the last meeting of our Merchants' Association, we had had a speaker
who was the advertising manager for a chain drug-store organization. He
had interested me very much in the need for increasing the amount of
sales per customer. He said:

"I wonder if you people here know how much each customer spends on an
average. For instance, our chain of drug stores must average thirty-five
cents a customer; that is, excluding the soda counter. Have you ever
added up the number of customers and divided them into the day's cash
total, and found how much each customer averages in expenditure?

"Suppose you have an average of one hundred customers a day, and that,
through good salesmanship, you increase the sale to each customer ten
cents only. That means that, at the end of the week, by good
salesmanship you have increased your sales sixty dollars without any
increase in your expenses at all, with the possible exception of the
supplies or delivery. Now, suppose your average gross profit on sales is
twenty-five per cent.; your increase of ten cents per customer means
that you make fifteen dollars a week of additional profit, or a profit
of seven hundred and eighty dollars a year. All this profit is yours, if
you will only increase the sale of each customer by ten cents!

"That is what it means every time you increase a sale: You increase
total sales; you increase gross profits; you lower cost of doing
business; you lower percentage of controllable expense; you lower
percentage of advertising expense; you help cut down surplus stocks; you
increase your turnover; you improve your service.

"All these things happen every time you increase a sale by as little as
a dime."

I remembered particularly the way in which he had said, "Isn't it worth
while, gentlemen, to encourage your sales people to sell every customer
an extra dime's worth, over and above what they had intended to buy?"

Seven hundred and eighty dollars a year extra profit, by increasing the
sale to every customer by ten cents. That certainly had got me going,
and I intended to devise some ways and means of increasing the sale to
each customer.

I thought this a good point for discussion at our next Monday's meeting.
We had dropped them while Larsen was ill; but, as the dear old fellow
was better again, though not quite well, we were to start them again on
the next Monday.

When Larsen was first taken sick I had hired a young fellow, named
Charlie Martin, to help out. Charlie was a college graduate, with a
father who was quite well-to-do. After he graduated from a college of
business administration, he had spent a year with a big chain cigar
store organization, after which he had been six months in a department
store in Detroit.

He and Fred Barlow had gone through college together and they were good
pals. He happened to be visiting the old man Barlow when Larsen was
taken sick, and it was through Barlow that he had come to me. Martin
told me that he would be glad to get some small store experience, so I
had hired him and he had been working like a Trojan at $8.00 a week. His
father was a banker in New York, and I had heard that he had been a
little bit disappointed in Charlie because he didn't take to banking;
but Charlie said that what he liked best was retail merchandising, and
he had spent a great deal of time and money preparing himself for such a

When Larsen came back I told Martin I didn't see how I could keep him,
but he pointed out to me that our sales had been increasing, and that,
as Larsen was not yet well, it would be putting too much of a burden on
him, especially as we would really be short-handed. So I had kept him on
and I was rather glad I had, for his college training certainly helped
us at our Monday night meeting.

It surely had seemed good to get my small staff around me again at a
Monday night meeting. Mater had taken over Betty's usual task, and sent
in coffee and doughnuts, which quickly went the way that all good coffee
and doughnuts should. It was really a treat to see Jimmie eat doughnuts.
I didn't believe he did eat them; he just inhaled them.

Of course, Jimmie was there with all the importance of a young boy who
had been taken into the confidence of his grown-ups. Jones and Larsen
were there, as well as Martin. What a contrast there was between Martin
and Larsen--Larsen sadly in need of a shave, in rough home-spun clothes,
sitting in his shirt sleeves with the wristlets of a red woolen sweater
showing underneath them; and Martin, who always looked like the last
word off Fifth Avenue, in spotless linen, narrow sharp features, with
the air of a regular debonair young man about town. These two people,
the exact opposites of each other, had quickly grown to be good friends.
The one had gained his knowledge through more than two-score years of
rather bitter experience; the other had gained his through five years of
specialized training. Martin, the trained man, had the keen analytical
sense which only comes from training. Larsen, through intuition, backed
by practical experience, blundered more or less after the more
quick-thinking Martin. Yet theory and practice thought pretty much
alike. It certainly showed to me the advantage of training, for Martin
had mastered in five years all that Larsen had learned in forty.

The matter for discussion at our meeting had been, "How to increase the
amount of sales to each customer?" Frankly, it was Martin who solved our
problem for us, and six ways were developed whereby we could increase
the sales of each customer.

The first was by applying the law of association. It was a simple thing
to do, and yet it astonished me to find that, while we all knew about
it, we had not been applying that law. For instance, only that morning
Mrs. Wetherall had come in for a clothes line. Jones had got the line
for her and had said, "Nothing else?" and she had said, "No, thank you,"
and walked out.

Martin asked Jones if he would allow him to make a suggestion relative
to that sale. Jones was a pretty good scout, and he said he didn't mind.

"I don't think," said Martin, "we ever ought to say 'nothing else'?
Because the natural thing for the customer to say is 'no.'"

"By Jove, you're right. I should have said, 'Anything else,' shouldn't

"That I think would be better," continued Martin, "but even that puts up
to the customer the burden of thinking if there is anything else wanted.
It would be better to suggest some articles. That is, of course,
applying the law of association."

"I see," said Jones thoughtfully, "I should have suggested she buy
clothes pins before I let her go."

"Yes, and other things."

"Well," said Jones, "I don't see anything else I could have suggested to
her, except that electrical washing machine we have got in, but it's
sixty-five dollars, and people won't pay that price for it."

Larsen snapped him up at that very quickly, saying, "Do you think,
Jones, that you know more about washing machines than the people do who
make them? Do you think those people would be such fools as to set a
price that people wouldn't pay for them? We've only had it in a couple
of weeks. No wonder we can't sell it, if we don't _think_ we can.
Wetherall's quite a well-to-do young fellow, and he could afford to buy
that for his wife if she wanted it, especially as she can buy it on the
easy payment plan."

I had bought this washing machine on the understanding that I could sell
it at the rate of ten dollars down and five dollars a month, and pay
them at the same rate for it.

Then Jones said, "Huh, I suppose I didn't do a blame thing right in that
sale. Well, I guess you can't kick at my sending the parcel home for
her. That little booklet we got out said we were 'long' on service."

"I guess you're all right there," I said, smiling. "What do you say,

"Why, yes, of course," responded Martin. "It is fine to give service."
Then, as if it were an afterthought, he added, "I wonder if it would
have made any difference if instead of saying 'Shall we send it?' you
had said, 'Will you take it with you?' Most people act on the suggestion
that is given. That is why, when we suggest to people to buy goods that
are associated with what they ask for, we put the thought of buying
those associated articles into their minds."

"And," broke in Jimmie impetuously, "they fall for it. I got yer!"

We all had a good laugh, and then continued the discussion of the law of
association. We decided that, whenever a man came in for a hammer, we
would always suggest nails, and vice versa. To every one who bought a
razor we would suggest shaving appliances. If a customer came in for
some paint, we would suggest brushes, and ask if he was going to paint
the barn, and, if so, whether he wanted some new door hangers, and such

I told Martin that he had better make a list on cards of the articles
which can be associated with each other, and then we could tack up the
cards where we could see them and quickly suggest the associated
articles to the customer.

"I tell yer what," said Jimmie, "let's have a lot of cards printed, and
then, if a carpenter comes in, shove out a card at him and say, 'Look
through this and see what else you want'?"

That didn't strike me as being such a bad suggestion after all.

The second plan for increasing sales was to suggest novelties, or new
articles in stock, to customers.

"Look what we did with that Cincinnati pencil sharpener," said Larsen.
"Do you remember how we mentioned that to every one who came in, and we
sold a bunch of 'em."

"And they're still selling, for I sold three last week," said Martin.

"Gosh," said Jimmie, "everybody must be giving 'em to everybody else for

"I don't think," said Martin, "we have anything like exhausted the sales
possibilities of those pencil sharpeners, and I am going to suggest that
we make that our novelty suggestion for the next week. What do you say,
Mr. Black?"

I shook my head dubiously. "We seem to have pushed those so much," I
said, "I should think there would hardly be a novelty here now."

"There has not been one on display for a couple of months," he answered,
"and we have about half a dozen in stock. Let's put those around the
store in different parts and then put a little card over each one
saying, 'Sharpen your pencil.' I will wager that every man who comes
into the store will sharpen his pencil, and if he does--"

"And if he does," the irrepressible Jimmie broke in "good-by pencil
sharpener, you're going to a new home!"

A thought had occurred to me which developed into the third method of
increasing sales. I had remembered that, when Betty and I were in New
York, she had lost her handkerchief, and we went into a store to get
one. When Betty said she wanted one handkerchief, the girl brought out
one and said, "Ten cents. Anything else?" I had thought at the time that
she could have sold Betty half a dozen just as well as one, and,
furthermore, if she had brought out one at twenty-five cents Betty would
have bought it just as readily.

Then I remembered how often we did the same thing with our customers, to
whom, when they came for a pocket-knife, for instance, we offered a
twenty-five cent one when we might have sold a fifty-cent or a dollar
one just as easily. I said to myself, "A number of our customers will go
into a restaurant and spend two dollars for a meal and then they will
come into our store and we will insult them by saying, 'Do you want the
five-cent size or the ten-cent size?' In other words, we treat them like

So with this thought in mind, I suggested that another way to increase
the amount of each sale is to suggest higher-priced goods than the
customer has in mind. Yet another plan would be to suggest larger size
packages. For instance, we sold both ten- and twenty-five-cent packages
of some articles. Once a customer had come in and asked for a stick of
shaving soap and Jones had brought down the ten-cent size and the
customer put the ten cents down and walked away with the soap. He might
just as easily have been sold the twenty-five-cent size.

So we decided that, when a customer asked for an article, if there was a
larger size package, or a better quality, we would always show the
largest or the best, taking care, however, in every case to show reasons
why the better quality or larger package was best for the customer to

From all this we finally developed three rules. One was to offer
higher-priced articles, another to offer a larger size package, and
another to offer a larger quantity.

Jimmie asked irreverently, "What's the diff between them last two?"

"Well, for instance, we sell scouring soaps for enamelware, and, as we
have two sizes, we always want now to sell the larger package. If,
however, a customer comes in for, say, seven pounds of nails, we want
him to take twenty-eight pounds, or a keg, if we can."

The last rule was one suggested by Martin, and it was this: Always
watch the customer's eye, and try to sell any article in which he
appears to be interested.

We decided that we must not ask the customers if they were interested in
the articles they are looking at, nor must we bring the articles to
them, but we must casually say, "That's quite an interesting so-and-so,
and is proving a mighty useful little thing," or some such remark as
that. In other words, just make a casual comment on it, and then, as
Martin said, "If they respond with a remark expressing interest, the
sale is half made."

I really felt that Martin had, in his quiet way, dominated the whole of
this meeting, but he had done it so neatly, and without in any way
trying to overstep my authority, that I really felt that he had been a
lot of help to us without making his show of knowledge obnoxious. I
really believed Martin knew more about retail merchandising than all of
us put together. What he had done was to suggest that it _might_ be a
good idea to do such and such a thing, instead of arrogantly thrusting
his knowledge on us by saying we _ought_ to do so. He was a clever man,
Martin, and Barlow's son was lucky to have a fellow like him for a
friend. I wished I could tie him up to my store somehow, but, of course
that would be impossible in a little store like mine, for there were no
prospects for a young fellow like him. . . .

The day after our meeting I saw the cleverest example of selling that I
had ever seen. Probably it was old, but it was surely new to me, and the
man got a small order from me, too.

About 10:30 in the morning, a well-dressed, jolly-looking man came into
the store. I was busy serving at the time. In fact, we all were busy,
but Larsen was disengaged first and so he asked what he could do for

"How do you do?" said the stranger, smiling. "I've got a message to tell
Mr. Black," and he nodded toward me.

"He'll be free in a few minutes," said Larsen.

"Thank you," replied the salesman. Then, noticing a display of
electrical goods which we had on one of our center tables, he said, "The
man who dressed that table knows something about display, doesn't he?"

"I did it," said Larsen.

"Oh, I beg your pardon; I thought that one of your assistants had done

I heard this even while serving my customer and I don't think I had ever
seen Larsen act so pleased. The old chap almost purred with delight. The
salesman didn't say any more to Larsen, however, but turned around and
inspected the electrical goods.

When I was disengaged he walked over to me.

"Good morning, Mr. Black; I have a message for you; but, before I
deliver it, I wonder if you have such a thing as a bit of scrap zinc or
tin around the place?"

"Yes," I said, and told Jimmie to bring a piece.

The jolly-looking man then took a pocket-knife from his pocket, opened
it and cut two or three slivers off the zinc. Passing the knife over to
me, he said: "Did you ever see a pocket-knife before that could do that
without denting?"

"No. But I never heard before of any one cutting zinc with a


"Of course they're not meant for that purpose; but a pocket-knife that
can do that must have quality in it."

"Yes, indeed." I looked at the knife curiously to see if the edge was
dented at all, but it wasn't.

"That is the kind of pocket-knife we sell," he continued. "Isn't that
the kind of pocket-knife that will please your trade? Just a moment,"
putting up his hand, "there's a bit of copper wire on your counter
yonder. May I borrow it a moment?"

I smiled and fetched it to him.

This time he brought out a pair of shears and snipped three short pieces
of wire from the coil, passed the scissors over to me and said, smiling
in the most friendly manner, "Same story on the scissors, Mr. Black."

My hand instinctively stretched out for those scissors and I examined
the cutting edges carefully.

"Look at this, Larsen," I called out without thinking. . . . "Mr. Larsen
looks after our cutlery--tell him about it."

I held out the scissors to the stranger, but he didn't take them.

"Try it for yourself," he said to Larsen.

Larsen did try it.

"Any good shears'll do that," said Larsen.

"Exactly," said the salesman, laughing; "which shows these must be good
shears. Isn't that so?"

"How much?" asked Larsen.

Well, I need not go any further. We had always bought most of our
cutlery from a jobber, feeling that it was best for us under the
circumstances. This salesman got us so interested in his cutlery,
however, that, really before we knew it, he had our order.

Martin had been unpacking some goods which had just come in and didn't
get behind the counter until afternoon. I told him about the selling
stunt that we had seen. "That's fine!" he said. "Let us adopt it," and
thereupon we decided that on pocket-knives of one dollar and over, and
shears of seventy-five cents and over, we should demonstrate their
superiority in the same way that the salesman had done.

"Why not on the cheaper ones?" I asked.

"Do you think," replied Martin with a dry smile, "that people would pay
extra for the higher priced knives or shears if we demonstrated to them
that the lower priced ones would stand the same test of quality? There
would be no logical reason for them to pay the extra price, would

A few days after our meeting Jimmie complained that the whole town was
using our store as a pencil sharpening emporium. "Everybody is
sharpening their pencils all day long, since we put up that notice about
the Cincinnati pencil sharpener," he said.

"How many have we sold?" I said, turning to Jones. As a matter of fact I
had forgotten our plan.

"There's only one left," he answered.

"Great Scott! Order another dozen right away!" I said excitedly.

"Martin ordered them on Tuesday."

Martin again. He thinks.



When I got down to breakfast one morning the Mater was there with a
letter in her hand which had a Florida post-mark on it. Her face was
very grave.

"Hullo, Mater," I said; then, noticing the envelope, "Nothing wrong, I

"Why, no; but I've got a little disappointment for you."

"Betty isn't sick again?" I asked anxiously.

"Now, don't worry, my dear," she said; "but I want you to let me tell
you"--here she hesitated and looked at me for a moment, then shook her
head sorrowfully and under her breath said, "Poor boy!"

"Good gracious, Mother, tell me quickly what it is!"

"There, there, sit down."

I sat down. My throat felt parched. Mother's remarks made me think all
kinds of dreadful things had happened to my Betty. She stood behind my
chair and put her arms on my shoulders and said: "Well, my poor boy,
your time of ease will soon be over. Betty will be home next Wednesday."
I felt as if a ton of bricks had been taken off my chest, and at once
forgave Mother for her joke.

I had just bought three electric vacuum cleaners, and Larsen thought I
was crazy.

"Retail at thirty-five dollars!" he said.

"Cost me twenty-two," I retaliated.


"Besides," I continued, "remember that we are going to dominate the
electrical supply field."

"And toilet articles--don't forget them," Larsen laughed.

That was his hobby; and it was a hobby that meant dollars and cents to
me, for that business was growing steadily all the time.

We had even added toilet soap, because we had been asked for it several
times. People came in to leave their safety razors to be sharpened and
then bought a stick of shaving soap, and also asked if we had any toilet
soap. So, right or wrong, we had gone into it. Martin had the right
idea. "If you can make profit out of it it's all right."

Coming back to our vacuum cleaners, I had felt that we ought to have
everything electrical, just so that we could dominate the field. I might
have been wrong in my reasoning, but that was how it struck me. I had
asked Martin if he didn't agree with me.

"I most surely do, Mr. Black," he said. "I think you have the right idea
on that, and I think you will sell some vacuum cleaners." He pursed his
lips, a habit he had when thinking, then added, "And, even if you don't
sell them, you can make a good profit out of them."

Larsen shot him a questioning look.

"In fact," continued Martin, "when you think it over, you might decide
not to bother to sell them at all, but just rent them during the spring
cleaning time, which is coming on very soon. You ought to be able rent
them for a dollar a day, without any trouble. I think that in sixty days
you can rent those machines so that they wouldn't cost you anything."

That was on Monday, and in the evening we had quite an interesting
discussion at our "directors'" meeting.

Jones suggested that we could send a man to work the vacuum cleaners,
and then, while he was in the house he could sell the woman other

"That certainly is a very interesting suggestion," said Martin, "and
possibly could be worked. But there's one difficulty. All the ads. of
the vacuum cleaner show women and children operating the machine. If we
suggested that a man ought to work it, they might wonder what is wrong
with the machine--or with us. Besides, Mr. Black, don't you think it
would take us too much from our regular work, so that, either there or
here, we would have to have extra help?"

After I thought the matter was dropped, Martin said, "Do you think that
one dollar is sufficient to charge for a day's use of that machine?
Don't you think we can get two dollars just as easily? Also remember
that, if the machine has been out one day, from our point of view it
becomes unsalable as a new machine."

"Do you think they will stand for that much?" asked Jones.

"Oh, yes," I chimed in, "I'm sure they will. It is going to save the
women two or three days' work; and, as you know, many people hire a man
or woman to come for a day to beat the rugs, and they can't get anybody
under two dollars a day, and it usually takes them a day to do the job."

So we decided to charge two dollars a day for the rent of the vacuum

Charlie Martin suggested that we ought to get up an ad. for the sweeper
service. I thought that Fellows ought to do it, but Charlie was so
insistent that I told him to go ahead with it.

Jimmy gave us an idea which I thought was pretty good. "Say, Boss," he
said, "couldn't we sell baseball goods?"

"Barlow has always handled those," I said, "and--and--" I trailed off to
nothing, because I realized that, because Barlow handled these, it was
no reason why I should not, and, if I stopped handling everything he
did, I would have very few goods in the store. I had had to give up the
idea of farm implements, because of the big hold he had on that
business, and the amount of money it required to carry the necessary

"I'm captain of the Little Tigers," broke in Jimmie, "and if yer put in
baseball goods, why I can get all our gang to buy from here--and, say, I
know a couple o' kids that would like to go and see the captains of the
other kids' teams around here--especially if you were to give a little
rake off."

We all laughed--except Larsen. "That's one of the best suggestions
Jimmie ever give us," he said, "Let his pals sell for a commission. They
get business we never get."

Here Martin broke in, "I know a house in Boston that would supply us
with all the catalogs we wanted, and we could sell from catalog if
necessary, and they would give us a substantial discount for any orders
we sent them."

"Write to them, Charlie," I said, "and see what they'll do."

What a tremendous lot of different lines there are which a retail store
can handle--even if only for a brief season each year--and make some
profit out of them! But you sure do have to keep on the jump to think of
them all. I know my store would never have been handling the number of
lines that we had then, if it hadn't been for the Monday meetings. These
meetings seemed to tone up all of us, and, once we had gone on record to
do something, we seemed to strive hard to live up to it, so that we
wouldn't let the other fellows have the laugh on us, which they
certainly would if we had fallen down. It was at that meeting that I
suggested a motto. It was this:

    "Eternal humping is the price of Success."

I asked Charlie Martin what he thought of it. He said, "It's fine, and
if you used the word _vigilance_ instead of _humping_--why you would be
only about twenty-five hundred years behind the fellow who originated

The day Betty was to return I was at the station at 3:30, although her
train wasn't due 'till 3:55--and then the train was fifteen minutes
late! How I fumed and fretted at the inefficiency of our railroad
service, but I forgot all that when the train finally puffed into the
station, and Betty tripped out of the car, right into my arms. I can't
express the happiness I experienced--all the hundred and one things we
had to talk over--all the foolish little stunts we did, just like a
couple of kids--but both of us supremely happy! I extend my heartfelt
commiseration to those poor benighted wights who don't possess a wife.



The next morning, while I was in the middle of breakfast, the telephone
rang. I jumped up to answer it and recognized Barlow's voice.

"That you, Black?" he said.

"Yes," I said. "Betty's home: she came yesterday!"

"Glad to hear it," he replied. "I wish you would drop in at the store
this morning, if you can; will you?"

"Sure," I answered, but felt somewhat disappointed. He seemed to treat
Betty's return as a mere nothing!

When I joined Betty at the table I told her about my automobile
arrangement with him. She seemed very pleased at that. Betty thought a
lot of Barlow, and I thought more of him than I used to. I had
considered him as an old duffer; but I had learned that he was a quiet,
thoughtful, progressive business man.

As soon as I got into his store he beckoned me to the rear.

"Say, Black, you've got some vacuum cleaners," he said; "I'm not
handling those things, and I wish you'd send one up to the wife. She's
always said she wanted one. I'll pay you now--how much?"

I told him the cost price and suggested that he pay me ten per cent.
over that, which he said was perfectly agreeable.

Then he said, "I couldn't help laughing the other day. Martin seemed to
be quite worried."

"Worried? What about? He was all right last night."

"I don't mean Charlie; I mean Bill Martin, who runs the garage. It seems
somebody said that the Martin who is with you is contemplating getting
into the garage business, and Billy Martin thinks that the confusion of
names will take a lot of business away from him."

"Who on earth said a thing like that?" I laughed.

"Oh, you know how these rumors get started. They start from nowhere and
they carry on indefinitely. The best thing, of course, is to ignore
anything like that."

"Funny that the name should be just the same, isn't it? Especially when

He put a warning finger to his lips and then I remembered my promise not
to mention to any one our coming deal in automobile accessories and

"I told Betty," I said.

"That's all right; Betty has an excellent forgettery."

Just as I was leaving he said, "I understand that your friend Stigler is
contemplating getting out of his five-and-ten-cent business."

I grinned. "Made it too hot for him, have I?"

"I don't know about that," he said; "but I understand that Woolton's
five-and-ten-cent store people are buying the place, and adding it to
their chain. Well, good-by," and he turned abruptly and left me.

When I walked back to the store I felt mighty uncomfortable--Woolton,
the biggest five-and-ten-cent chain in the country, next door to me! I
hadn't minded somehow, while it was Stigler, because he hadn't
sufficient money to carry a big variety of stock as they did. Neither
did he know anything about organization, or marketing methods, as the
Woolton people did.

As I neared my store I happened to notice Stigler and a short, thick-set
man coming out of his five-and-ten-cent store. As they passed me Stigler
said, "Howdy, Black," with an attempt at joviality. Stigler had been
looking much older lately. He wore a worried look.

When I passed his store I noticed two dapper young men busily writing. I
made the guess that they were stock taking.

I told Martin and Larsen about it. Larsen pooh-poohed the idea of being
afraid of the competition. Martin felt differently, however.

I expected the Woolton people would take over the store on the first of
the month, and if so they would advertise big bargains the day before.
They were sure to have crowds of people visiting them the first two or
three days the store was opened, because they always offered as leaders
some tremendous values. I mentioned this to Martin.

"The thing we've got to do, Mr. Black, if I may say so," he said, "is to
see if we can't get the jump on them in some way, and also trim our
windows so as to profit by any one visiting their store."

Jones, who was inclined, like Larsen, to deprecate the idea of fearing
them, said, "I guess we needn't worry about them. We're educating the
people to buy something better than five-and-ten-cent goods. Just keep
up the educating stunt, Boss."

"You will find," said Martin, "that the Woolton people will make their
store as bright as possible, and I am afraid that ours will look a
little dull in comparison."

When Stigler had had the store fitted up he had had some very powerful
lights put in, but he had never used them much. My store was not any too
bright, although, of course, like him, I used electricity.

"I tell you what we'll do," I said. "We'll have an electrical display in
both windows and, for the first week, we'll try to get a bigger blaze of
light in our windows than they will have. We'll display the best quality
goods that we can, so as to avoid any attempt at competition with them,
but we'll make our store so bright that every one going to their store
for bargains will be impressed with our up-to-dateness."

That is what we decided to do.

Martin had given me his handbill advertising the vacuum cleaners. On the
next page is a copy of it.


     Instead of hiring help to clean your carpets, let one

     efficient, and thorough. You don't have to find meals
     for them and they never answer back.

     If you have electricity in your home hire a PEERLESS
     ELECTRICAL VACUUM SWEEPER to clean your rugs.

     $2.00 a day--delivered and collected free.

     A child can operate them, but they do the work of a

     A special demonstration all next week at

     32 Hill St.

     "If it's electrical you can get it from us."

I had had Roger Burns around for dinner the previous Sunday. He used to
go to school with Betty and me, so of course when I told Betty that the
New England Hardware Company, for which Roger was working, had made him
manager of its chain store in Farmdale, the first thing she said was
that we must ask him for dinner.

While Betty and the Mater were clearing away the dinner things, I asked
Roger how business was coming along.

"Well," he said, "we knew pretty well what we would do before we came."

"How could you tell?" I asked, laughing.

"We knew how much money we were to invest in Farmdale. We knew how often
we ought to turn over our stock every year. We also knew what our
expenses would be, and what our profits would be."

I couldn't help smiling as I said, "The only thing you didn't know was
whether the people would buy the goods."

"That's where you're wrong," said Roger. "We knew what the people would
buy, because we analyzed the market so thoroughly. We knew just what
kind of goods each class of people bought; and how often they bought
certain kinds of goods. And with our experience in marketing we knew how
to get them into our store."

After Roger had left I thought that over a lot, and believed there was
some truth in what he had said.

"Of course," I said, "it is much easier for you people to make money
than it is for me, because you buy much cheaper than I can, and your
expenses are so much less. You could afford to sell cheaper than I do,
and still make a handsome profit."

"As a matter of fact," said Roger, "you are wrong; for, while the actual
operating expense of this store would be a smaller percentage than your
actual operating expense, we have a heavy supervision cost. It is a
fallacy to believe that the larger store can operate for less expense.
It cannot. The bigger business you have, the more money you have to pay
the executives to control that business, and there is such a scramble
for really big men that salaries of fifteen thousand dollars and twenty
thousand dollars a year are not unusual. Our general manager makes
eighteen thousand dollars a year!"

"Think of making eighteen thousand dollars a year! Three hundred and
sixty a week! Sixty a day! Working six hours a day! Ten dollars an hour!
And here I pike along on twenty-five dollars a week and work my head off
ten hours a day. Then you mean to say that it really costs you more to
do business than it does me?"

"It surely does," he said, "but, while we get a smaller net profit on
each sale, we possibly exercise more judgment in buying than you do, as
we see that everything we buy is a quick seller. That off-sets the
increased cost of doing business.

"Another big advantage the chain store has over the single store,"
continued Roger, "is that we have very little unsalable stock to dispose
of. For instance, I have just had a lot of brushes sent me from one of
the other stores. They cannot sell them, so, rather than have them sold
at a sacrifice, the brushes were sent on to us. I am doing quite a big
business in paint brushes--you know we specialize on brushes of all
kinds, and I really think that already we are beginning to dominate that
field in Farmdale.

"By the way," added Roger, "you ought to meet Pat Burke."

"Pat Burke?"

"Yes, he is the manager of the new Woolton store here--awfully nice

"When did you know him?" I said.

"Strange to say, he was assistant manager of the Hartford Woolton store
when I was there, and I got to know him quite well."

"I hardly like to call on him," I said. "Remember, he's a direct
competitor of mine, and next door to me."

"Competitor nothing," said Roger good-naturedly. "You are not
competitors at all. You are selling different classes of goods, and you
ought to supplement each other."

That was a new thought to me. I wondered if a five-and-ten-cent store
was a hindrance or a help to an adjoining hardware store?

A man named Purkes ran a grocery store at the corner opposite Traglio's
drug store. He was an undersized man and fussed and interfered with
everybody else's business, and made a living chiefly because he hadn't
much competition.

About two weeks before, a salesman of cheap enamelware had come into
town, gone to Purkes, and sold him two or three cases of "seconds."
Purkes thought he was a real fellow when he filled his window full of
those seconds. The same week I was having a display of perfect
enamelware. He put a price on his goods of ten cents each. He also had a
big sign in the window, reading: "Don't pay fancy prices for enamelware.
Purkes's cut-rate grocery store will sell you all you want for ten cents
each. Pick them out as long as they last."

Now, old Barlow always played the game square. Stigler was certainly a
hardware man, and I could stand for his cut prices; but, when a grocery
store came butting in, I felt mad, and I told Charlie Martin that I'd
like to get Purkes's scalp somehow. Charlie suggested quite a good
little stunt.

Three days after Purkes offered his enamelware I had a window full
of--what do you think?--tea; in half-pound packets! And it was an
advertised line, Milton's, which was a line that Purkes had sold for a
long time! That tea usually sold for fifty cents a pound. I put a sign
in the window saying: "Why pay fifty cents a pound for Milton's tea,
when you can buy it here for thirty-eight cents a pound, nineteen cents
the half pound."

That was exactly what it cost us. Martin had got hold of it for us from
a friend of his in Providence, who was a wholesale grocer.

You really would have laughed to see Purkes come flying into our store
about fifteen minutes after our window trim was complete. He reminded me
of a wet hen who had had her tail feathers pulled out. He couldn't
speak, he just sputtered and pointed to the window. After a minute I
caught the words, "Scoundrel!" and "robber!" and "unjust!" and "report
to the Merchants' Association!"

I turned around and caught sight of Charlie grinning his head off. He
passed the high sign to me, which I understood to mean "Let him talk."
So I beckoned to Charlie to come over.

"This is the man who thought up that idea," I said to Purkes. "It's a
good one, don't you think?"

Both Charlie and I saw that Purkes was going to explode again, so
Charlie said:

"Now listen, Mr. Purkes. Do you think it is any worse for us to sell tea
than for you to sell enamelware?"

"But that's just a job line I bought! Just the little I sell could not
hurt you,"--then he added maliciously, "unless, of course, you get fancy
prices for your goods."

I felt like throwing him out of the store; but Charlie ignored his last
remark and said, "That idea of yours selling enamelware was so excellent
that I thought we ought to copy it. You sell hardware--we sell

"You are--how long are you going to continue selling tea?"

"Only until this lot is sold out."

"I'll tell you what," said Purkes, brightening up, "I'll buy your tea
of you and you buy my enamelware."

"We don't sell seconds in enamelware, Mr. Purkes, so your enamelware is
useless to us."

"Very well, I will continue to sell enamelware."

"We quite expected you would, Mr. Purkes. We are not going to sell tea
after we have cleaned out this one lot, however."

"But by the time you've sold out that one lot you will have established
such a ridiculous price that I probably will have to cut my price to
satisfy the people. Why, the stuff costs you more than you sell it for."

"Guess we're satisfied with what we are making out of tea, Charlie,
aren't we?"

"Yes," he answered, "but I think we are going to do even better on the
Cross Tree jams."

These jams were the most advertised in the country, and Purkes was the
local agent for them.

The little chap let off a scream. "I'll stop you getting them!" he
cried. "I'll sue you!--I'll--!" He stopped abruptly and asked, "Where
did you get them?"

"From the plumber's!" said Charlie, "Where did you think?"

"But you can't get them--I've the sole agency."

"In that case," I returned, "you've nothing to worry about, have you?"

The outcome of it was, however, that Purkes promised to take his
enamelware off sale at once and get the manufacturers to take it
back--even at a loss---or, failing that, to sell his stock to some store
outside of Farmdale. We in return were to sell him our tea at forty
cents a pound. The little chap kicked at this, but he agreed.

Having got the matter fixed up, he said, "There now, that's settled,
thank goodness. It isn't nice to have disputes among friends, is it?
I'll send my man up for that tea this afternoon, so that you won't be
bothered to send it down," and he peered over his spectacles and smiled

"We will let you have the tea as soon as your enamelware has left town.
Until then we will keep it here, in case we need it," I replied.

"What, don't you trust me?" he exclaimed.

Here I forgot myself, for I turned round sharply and said: "I do _not_!
I'm almost sorry that you agreed to get rid of that enamelware, for, by
heaven, there's a good profit in groceries, and it wouldn't take me more
than two minutes to get into that line myself!"

Old Purkes went white to the gills and assured me hastily that he would
get the enamelware out of town as quickly as possible.

I felt so stuck on myself when he left the store that I wanted to stand
on the counter and crow.

"You threw a good bluff," said Charlie, after Purkes had left.

"What do you mean--bluff?" said I, surprised. "No bluff there. I meant
every word of it!"

"Even to starting a grocery business?"

"Aw, that," I said sheepishly. "It was a bit foolish because, while
business is booming with us, I find that every little bit of extra
profit I make has to go into stock. So, as regards actual cash, I am no
better off than I was six months ago. However, bluff or no bluff, I
really think we've killed the grocer's competition."

I wonder more retail merchants don't retaliate in this way on merchants
in other lines who make this kind of competition. Perhaps they don't
because they don't want to offend a fellow townsman. They forget,
however, that their fellow townsman doesn't hesitate to offend them.

Pat Burke came into the store that afternoon and introduced himself to
me, saying, "Roger Burns sent me, as he wanted me to know you."

He was a short, thick-set man, and spoke on generalities for a little

"How's business coming along?" I asked him.

"Very well indeed," he said.

"How did you find the business when you took it over from Stigler?"

Without any expression on his face at all he said, "Just about what we

"What do you think of Stigler?" I asked him.

He didn't say anything for a minute, but let his eyes roam around the

"I certainly like the way you have your electrical goods displayed, Mr.
Black," he said. "You have a good trimmer, whoever he is."

"I do it myself."

"The dickens you do!" he commented. "Well, that is one of the most
attractive displays I have seen in a long while. I want to compliment
you. If you were in Boston or New York you would give up running a store
of your own, and be head of the decorative department of some big
department store. Do you know that some of those head window trimmers
make as much as five thousand dollars a year?"

We got on a general discussion of window trimming.

"Well, I've got to get back to the store," he finally said. "When you
have an evening at liberty I should like to have a chat with you. I
think we ought to be able to help each other."

It was not until he had gone that I realized that he had never answered
my question relative to Stigler. He put it off as neatly as anything I
ever saw.



I had pledged myself to a profit-sharing plan with my small staff for
the year beginning June 1, since my fiscal year would end with the last
day of May.

Think of it! By the end of May I would have finished my first year in
business. When I looked back at the year's experiences, I realized that
I surely had learned a lot in that short time. I had learned more each
month than I had learned in all the time I was a clerk. The reason was,
I suppose, because I _had_ to learn, whereas, while a clerk, I had had
neither the inclination to learn nor the encouragement. I think bosses
make a mistake in not encouraging their people to study the business.

Now, I want to tell about my profit-sharing plan. For almost two weeks I
had been spending nearly every night with Jock McTavish, the accountant
who had helped me out so much in the past. I had told him what I wanted,
and we had worked out a plan between us. Jock was Scotch and
old-fashioned. I sometimes called him glue fingers, because whenever he
got his hand on money it stuck to him.

"Aw, weel, noo," said Jock, "dinna fash yersel', mon! Ye may talk aboot
yer pheelantropy an' yer wantin' ta help yer fella creeters, but you
maun ken that you canna be doin' it unless ye fir-rst get the baubees.
When ye took o'er tha beesiness, ye planned tae sell thirty thousand
dollars worth o' goods the fir-rst year, and on that sales quota ye
planned expenses to be twenty per cent."

I nodded agreement.

"By tha end o' November," he continued, "or, in other wor-rds, at the
end o' the half year, ye were $1,128.00 behind your quota."

"Yes," I said, "but we have caught that up."

"Ye've done gr-rand," said Jock. "Noo frae June o' last year to the end
o' February ye hae doone $22,640.00, or $140.00 above your quota. This
means that tha third quarter o' your fiscal year showed an excess over
its quota o' $1,268.00, which, if ye had keppit oop tha same pace
through aw' tha year, would have meant an excess above your quota o'

"Wait a minute, Jock," I interrupted, "you're making my head go round
with all those figures." And I took out my pencil and worked the

"Sither," continued Jock, "ye planned your expenses to be twenty per
cent. on a $30,000.00 business, but, as a matter o' fact, it's costing
ye twenty-two and one-half per cent. on that basis."

"Let me see," I said, figuring vigorously, "Twenty per cent. of
$30,000.00--that's $6,000.00."

"That is so!" said Jock.

"But you figure that, at the present rate, expenses will approximate
twenty-two and one-half per cent. of $30,000.00--or $6,750.00."

"Ye spoke tha truth," said Jock. "In other words, ye're losing $750.00
worth of profit which ye would a' had if ye'd conducted your beesiness

"I guess I've--"

"Tut, tut, mon," said Jock. "I'm no' saying ye haven't done grand. Ye've
done splendidly, but ye should be able tae keppit your expenses doon tae
twenty per cent. As a matter o' fact, when ye do more business I think
ye'll be able to do so."

"Where has that two and one-half per cent. extra expense gone to?" I

"I'll tell ye," said Jock. "Ye planned bad debts tae be one-half o' one
per cent., or $150.00, whereas they are aboot one per cent. or $300.00."

"Yes," I remarked ruefully, "I remember that we made a lot of bad debts
when we first took over the business; but, since I have put in that new
system of keeping closer track of charge accounts, we have had very
little loss that way. We will be down to our one-half of one per cent.
next year," I added cheerfully.

"Maybe ye will," said Jock, "and then again, maybe ye won't. Ye will, if
ye can keep your feet on the ground, and that seems deeficult for ye to
do all the time, does'na it?

"Wi' regar-rd tae advertising," he continued, "we planned it should be
aboot one per cent., or $300.00. Noo, as a matter o' fact, ye hae
already spent that, and will probably spend $100.00 more afore your
fiscal year is oop. Your advertising will be one and one-half per cent.
instead of one per cent. There's anither one-half of one per cent.

"Next year my advertising will again be one and one-half per cent.," I
said, firmly.

"All richt," said Jock, "but dinna forget that the extra one-half of one
per cent. means $150.00 cold cash."

"I'm quite willing to pay it," I said, and here I felt on sure ground,
for I was convinced that the advertising we had done had been
responsible in no small degree for our success in doing as much business
as we had.

"General expenses," continued Jock, ignoring my comment. "General
expenses we planned should be one and one-half per cent., or $450.00,
but they'll be two per cent., or $600.00.

"Your rent should hae been three per cent., or $900.00. As a matter o'
fact, it's $1,000.00. Depreciation was planned for one-half of one per
cent., but it'll exceed that, or so I surmise from what ye tell me, so
that ye might say that depreciation and rent accounts for anither
one-half of one per cent. excess o' your expense allowance."

"We will keep depreciation down to one-half of one per cent. nicely next
year," I commented. "I will avoid some mistakes in buying that I made
this year, and, besides, I will have cleaned out the remnants of the old
stock which I bought from Jimmy Simpson."

"On the ither hand," continued Jock, ignoring altogether what I said,
"ye expected delivery costs tae be one-half of one per cent., or
$150.00, whereas I dinna believe they'll exceed $100.00, so there is a
wee bit saving. Salaries should hae been eleven per cent., or $3,300.00,
whereas they're rather more than eleven and one-half per cent., or
$3,450.00. That is where your two and one-half per cent. has departed.
I'll summarize those excess expenses:

    Bad debts..........................................½ per cent.
    Advertising........................................½ per cent.
    General expenses ..................................½ per cent.
    Depreciation and rent..............................½ per cent.
    Salaries...........................................½ per cent.

"Here's the poseetion," continued Jock. "The average mark-oop is
thirty-three and one-third per cent. on stock, or twenty-five per cent.
profit on sales price. Expenses were planned tae be twenty per cent. of
sales, and, had that been so, ye would hae had five per cent. profit
after all expenses had been paid, for yourself."

I began to listen attentively. Isn't it strange how one sits up and
takes notice when one's own pocketbook is in discussion?

"As it is," said Jock, "expenses being twenty-two and one-half per
cent., ye make only two and one-half per cent. profit, if ye do the
amount o' business ye expect."

"_If_," I said scornfully. "It's a cinch we'll do it."

"I hope ye will that, but dinna brag aboot it 'til ye get it. Ye canna
build your hoose 'til ye've got the bricks.

"Listen, noo," he continued. Jock had begun to remind me of an
inexorable fate, he went along so quietly, impartially, just as if he
were passing sentence on me. As a matter of fact, he was making me think
of the finances of my business in a way that I had never thought of them

"If ye'd made five per cent. net profit on your $30,000.00 worth of
business, ye would hae added $1,500.00 a year to your income, whereas,
noo that ye may make only two and one-half per cent. on that amount,
your income will be reduced to $750.00. It's just those wee bit half per
cents. that hae taken $750.00 out o' your pooch."

"If we increase our sales," I said, "of course that is equal to
increasing our rate of turn-over, isn't it?" Jock nodded. "Now, see if
this is right: If we do make a little less profit on each turn-over, the
actual dollars and cents profit at the end of the year may be greater
than it would be if we made a larger net profit on each sale but didn't
sell so much goods."

"Ye reason that out well, lad," said Jock, and somehow I felt quite
chesty to think I had done something which pleased the old heathen.

"If ye keep your expenses as at present, and increase your sales, all
the profit on the excess business above your quota is porridge. Ye dinna
hae to pay any additional amount for rent, taxes, heat, light,
depreciation, advertising, or insurance. In other wor-rds, your
operating expenses on all business, over and above your sales quota, are
reduced by these items. This saving would reduce your operating expenses
eight per cent., meaning that this excess business over your quota would
only cost ye twelve per cent. to secure, instead o' twenty per cent. As
a matter o' fact, if ye can get more business than your quota calls for,
wi'oot increasing your salaries, that would eleeminate all expenses
except delivery and general expenses. Noo, if ye feel ye must give awaw
your har-rd-earned money here's a proposition for ye:

"Plan tae keep your salary expense at its present figure, which is based
on $30,000.00 worth of sales annually.

"Ye can afford to pay eleven cents for salaries oot o' every dollar ye
get. Give eleven cents on every dollar ye take, above $30,000.00, to
your salespeople, as a bonus and divide it among them according to their
salaries. For example, suppose next year ye do $40,000.00 worth of
business--and ye ought tae be able tae do this, because ye're selling
at a slightly better rate than $35,000.00 a year noo. If ye do, ye
secure $10,000.00 above your sales quota. Eleven per cent. of $10,000.00
is $1,110.00, which ye could deestribute among your folk."

I referred to my note book of expenses, and said: "Our salaries at
present total $71.00 a week."

"Including yoursel'?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Weel," continued Jock, "that bonus would add $22.00 weekly to that
$71.00. That means for every ten dollars o' salary now earned there
would be added $3.14 bonus."

"How would it work out in Larsen's case?" I asked. "He gets $20.00 a

"His bonus would bring his salary to aboot $26.00 a week. Another way o'
putting it is that every dollar o' weekly salary seecures a bonus o'
$16.12 a year. I would suggest ye pay a bonus every quarter--if your
quarter's quota o' sales is seecured."

"Suppose we need extra help?" I said.

"If ye hae tae have extra help, the expense o' it'll hae to come oot o'
the $1,100.00 bonus, or whatsoever the amount might be. Unless ye did
this, ye'd be exceeding your original allowance for wages. If your
people know that, the less people there are wor-rkin', the more money
each o' them makes, they'll all o' them work as har-rd as they can to
accomplish the results wi'oot adding extra people tae tha payroll. There
is one ither thing I must warn ye of, and that is, tell all your people
that this is only a plan tae be tried for a year, and that each year
ye'll decide upon the sales quota according tae the growth o' the

"I think I follow you," I said thoughtfully. "The more business we do
with less help, and therefore less payroll, the bigger will be the bonus
to divide. But where do I come out in all this?" I asked. "Eleven
hundred dollars seems a lot to give to those fellows."

"Here's where you benefit," said Jock. "Ye give yourself a salary at
present of $25.00 a week, don't you? That's $1,300.00 a year. Now, then,
if ye sell $40,000.00 worth of goods next year, ye will make a net
profit of five per cent. on $40,000.00, which is $2,000."

"That's so," I commented.

"In addition to that," he continued, "ye make an extra eight per cent.
on $10,000.00, the excess sales over quota, on which ye hae no expense
ither than salaries; eight per cent. of that $10,000.00 is $800.00.
Then, again, remember that ye share in the bonus, for eleven per cent.
for salaries includes your ain, so ye receive a bonus of $403.00 oot o'
that $1,100.00. In other wor-rds, if ye hae $40,000.00 worth o'
beesiness the next fiscal year, and keep your expenses doon tae twenty
per cent. on a sales quota o' $30,000.00, your income would be

"Can you beat it!" I said, under my breath. "Four thousand five hundred
and three dollars," I continued slowly, "Ninety dollars a week. Great
Scott, that's making money!"

"It's aw' a question o' being able to get your people to speed up your
sales to increase the turn-over o' your capital so as tae make extra
profit wi-oot extra salespeople," said Jock.

"That's salesmanship," I commented, for I remembered that my friend
Robert Sirle--if I could call such a big man my friend--had said that
"salesmanship is the creation of additional business without additional
cost." "What we must exercise this next year is salesmanship. Why, I can
afford to make small increases in salaries and still make a good thing
for myself," I added.

"Aye," said Jock, "o' course ye can make increases in salaries, but
recollect ye can only give people the money in one way or the ither. If
ye increase salaries ye must reduce bonuses in proportion."

I decided to try the plan, and at our next Monday evening meeting I
announced it to the fellows. Jock was there, fortunately, to explain it
all to them, and finally they all understood it. Larsen, however, said
dubiously, "It's complicated to me, Boss."

"All ye've got tae think aboot," said Jock, in answer to him, "is that
ye get no bonus until the store has sold $30,000.00 worth o' goods.
After that eleven cents on every dollar is divided amongst ye according
to your salaries."

"When you start it, Boss?" then asked Larsen.

"We will start this on June 1," I said. I noticed Larsen's face fell, as
also did Jones'. "But," I continued, and here they brightened up, "if we
do exceed our $30,000.00 this year, I shall give a bonus, though only
half of what it will be next year."

"Why only half?" asked Larsen.

"Because," said I, "our expenses have been $750.00 too high as it is. If
we do exceed our $30,000.00 for the year ending May 31, we will split up
six cents on every dollar over that amount, in proportion to your
salaries. How does that strike you?" I said, for every one was silent.

Larsen rose to his feet, coughed impressively, and said: "Mr. Black, on
behalf of us fellows I say we appreciate it. I don't quite follow this
per cent. stuff. You are bigger business man than we,"--I could not help
looking at Charlie Martin, when he said this, for Charlie, with his
thorough business training in the college of business administration, I
knew to be a better business man, on the theory of business, at any
rate, than all the rest of us--"and, if you say so, we know it's O. K.
It looks good to me. I know the wife will be tickled to pieces."

I smiled at the way Larsen drifted from general congratulations to
thoughts of his wife.

Well, the meeting broke up pleasantly, and every one left with a firm
determination to do his best to increase sales without the need of
increasing our force. Jones and Larsen and the boy Jimmie walked down
the road together, and I heard Jones say: "We will work day and night.
If we can only do the business without getting any more help--"



I had thought of a great idea to profit by agitation against the high
cost of living. The idea had come to me when reading a story in a
business paper which had said that it was not high cost of living we
were suffering from, but cost of high living, and, instead of buying
things in bulk as we used to do, we bought in packages and had to pay a
whole lot of money for the package--and the advertising of them. It had
said also that the modern housewife was lazy and would not _do_ things
for herself if she could get them done by some one else, and that she
thought more of tango teas than toting baby carriages. The article had
finished up by saying: "How many housewives do _you_ know, Mr. Reader,
who will make their own soap, do their own washing, bake their own
bread, and such like housewifely accomplishments which our parents and
grandparents took pride in performing?"

Now, it hadn't seemed to me that that was quite fair to the housewives.
Betty, for one, was no tango-trotter. Well, my brilliant foozle of an
idea had been to make a splurge on bread mixers. I had always carried
one or two in stock, but never had done much with them. So I ordered
three dozen as a starter, that is, two cases, and I got a really good
price on them. Then I ran an ad. in the paper, saying that it had been
said the modern housewife preferred to have things done for her rather
than to do them herself, but that I felt it was not so, and that, just
to show that the modern woman could do as well as the previous
generation, I had started a bread-making contest. I used a slogan: "You
can make bread better than mother by using the Plintex Bread mixer."

I then asked every one to buy a bread mixer, bake a loaf of bread with
its aid, and leave it at the store. I also stated that I would turn all
the bread baked over to the hospital, and I offered an electric chafing
dish for the best loaf baked. I concluded by saying that three prominent
citizens would be the judges.

I had determined to surprise every one by this stunt, but when it came
out no one was quite so surprised as I was at its reception. When I took
the ad. to the newspaper office the fellow grinned as I handed it to

"Good idea, isn't it?" I said.

"Some idea all right, Mr. Black," said he.

Next morning, when I arrived at the store, Charlie Martin was waiting
for me with a paper in his hand. Said he, "Mr. Black, did you put this

"Sure," I answered.

"I thought perhaps Stigler was trying to get at you in some way," said

I went hot and cold all over, for I felt right then and there that I had
made a big mistake.

"Who's your committee of three prominent citizens?" he then asked.

"I have not picked them yet," I said rather sheepishly.

"But," said Charlie, "a citizen may be prominent without knowing much
about bread. Incidentally, after those three prominent citizens have
tested every loaf of bread, Heaven help the poor babies in the hospital
who have to eat what is left! And, say, if my landlady were to bake a
loaf of bread in this contest, there would be death at some one's
doorstep. She can no more bake bread than I can fly."

"Well," I remonstrated, "those people who can't bake bread won't send in

"I am inclined to think," said Charlie, "that they are just the people
who will. And, incidentally, you insist on every one buying a bread
mixer before sending in a loaf. Why don't you try the same thing with
ice cream freezers? Insist on them spending a few dollars to buy an ice
cream freezer, and submit a dab of ice cream for a contest?"

"I wish I had talked it over with you, now, Charlie," I blurted out.

"So do I," said Charlie.

Just then the telephone bell rang. Larsen answered and said it was for
me. Mr. Barlow was at the telephone.

"Say, Dawson," he began, "who worked up that brilliant ad. you have in
the paper this morning?"

"I did," I said, feeling pretty cheap, somehow.

"Did you find the women all lined up on the doorstep this morning, ready
to buy bread mixers?" he asked.

"What's the matter with the idea?" I said.

"Nothing, it's a great idea. I'm going to advertise traction engines
among the farmers, and offer a prize of two eggs to the farmer who makes
it hoe a row of potatoes quickest."

"You are carrying the idea to a point of absurdity," I said. "What's
the matter with my idea, anyhow?"

"Ask Charlie Martin; I guess he can help you," he answered. "And say,
Dawson, I don't want to hurt your feelings; but, if I were you, I would
not try any more brilliant stunts without talking them over with Charlie
or some one else first. The bulk of your ideas are fine, you know, but
occasionally you slip a cog."

I hung up the receiver, then turned to Charlie and said: "I thought I
had a pretty good idea."

"You had a good idea," he said, "but worked it out incorrectly. It is
such a bald attempt to sell bread mixers. You don't give any reason why
they should buy bread mixers. The only reason you ask them to buy the
mixers is to enter the contest. Now, the better-class women won't do it,
and the poorer people have not money to buy mixers."

"I never thought of that," I said.

"Then, again," said Charlie, "you have, or had, quite a good customer
for hardware in the Empire Bread Company. I wonder what they will think
of you urging people to stop trading with them?"

"Good heavens!" I gasped. "I never thought of that, either."

"Evidently not," said Charlie.

"I am going right down to see them," I said, and I seized my hat and,
before he could say another word, I was on my way to see Mr. Burgess of
the Empire Bread Company.

When I arrived at Mr. Burgess' office I heard him and Stigler (Stigler
above all people) laughing. The boy told Burgess I was there, and I was
asked to go right in, which, like a fool, I did.

"How-de, Black?" said Stigler. "Have yer just dropped around to see if
Mr. Burgess will enter a loaf of bread in yer bread-mixing contest?"

I ignored him and turned to Burgess and said: "I didn't know you were
engaged--I will wait until you are through."

"Don't bother, Black," said Stigler, "I am going now," then, turning to
Burgess, he added: "All right, Mr. Burgess, I'll see that yer have them
things this afternoon."

My heart sank when I heard those words, for the Empire Bread Company was
a good steady customer of mine--one of the best, in fact. Burgess used
to trade with Stigler, but they got at cross purposes over something and
the business had come to me, and had been with me for over six months.

"Say, Mr. Burgess," I began, as soon as Stigler had left the room, "I'm
awfully sorry for that ad."

"Don't you be sorry, Black," he said, "it will probably be good business
for you. In fact, I think we will have to enter a loaf of bread in that
contest ourselves. It might be good advertising for the Empire Bread
Company to win the thirty-cent cheese dish, or whatever it is, that you
are giving for making the best loaf of bread."

"I don't know how I ever did such a foolish thing," I said; "but I want
you to know that I shall advertise to-night that the contest is
abandoned on account of inability to get together the committee of

"Hm!" said Burgess. "I can just imagine the people saying, 'I guess the
Empire people got after him. That is why he is squealing.' Still, you
know your own business best. And now please excuse me, for I am very

"For heaven's sake tell me what I ought to do, Mr. Burgess! If I hadn't
been so bull-headed I never would have got into this mess."

"And," smiled Burgess, "you think it is bad business to risk losing

"Why--partly--I certainly didn't want to hurt your business," I said.

"Believe me, Black, a thing like that won't hurt our business; but it's
good to change at times, so we have switched over to Stigler for a
little while. Some day, perhaps, we will give you a chance at some more
of our business; and now you really will have to excuse me."

I found myself walking back to the store feeling very disconsolate,
indeed. I decided that, at any rate, I would not risk any more
advertising on that wretched bread-making contest, until I saw what was
going to happen. Charlie met me near the post office. "I guess we have
lost the Empire account, haven't we?" he asked.

I groaned.

"Well, cheer up, Mr. Black, we all make mistakes--and it will be
forgotten in a day or two. But--" and then he hesitated.

"Go on, Charlie," I said, "I really want to get your advice."

"All right, then. If I were you, Mr. Black, whenever you plan any
advertising, see first of all that it is not going to hurt any one
else's business; next, whenever you run a prize contest, run one without
any strings attached to it; and, when you give a prize--give something
other than what you sell."

"Do you believe in prize contests?" I asked Charlie.

"As a general rule, no. I think if you have any money to spend for
advertising, you had much better spend it in advertising just what you
are selling, giving people reasons why they should buy your goods. That
sounds humdrum and everyday, I know. There's nothing apparently
brilliant about it, but it gets results. Notice the really big
advertisers. They advertise the goods they have to sell, and it is very
seldom you find them branching off into prize-contest ideas."

"What about the 'Globrite' flashlight?" I said.

"That prize contest complies with the three rules I mentioned. The
prizes were _cash_ prizes and big ones. The public didn't have to buy
anything to enter. The prizes were big enough to tempt people to study
'Globrite' goods, and that really advertised the flashlights to every

Somehow, Charlie's quiet confidence made me feel better. But, candidly,
I hated to be seen on the street those days, for everybody asked me how
the bread-making contest was getting on.

At the end of three days, we had not sold a single bread mixer!



Our next Monday evening meeting had proved quite interesting. We had
sold one bread mixer, but, thank heaven, no one had inflicted a loaf of
bread upon us! I was hoping that that foolish stunt of mine would die a
natural death--and that's a better one than it deserved.

The matter for discussion at the meeting was introduced by Jones, who
had in his hand a copy of that little "Service" booklet which we had

"I was thinking over this little booklet the other day," said he, "but,
do you know, Mr. Black, I don't think we are living up to it, somehow."

"In what way do you mean?" I asked him.

"Well, we talk about service and how we want people to feel they are at
home, and all that, and-- Oh, I don't know how to express it," he

I certainly didn't know what he was driving at. I looked at Larsen, and
his face was a blank; then I looked at Charlie, and, as I did so, he

"I'd like to ask Jones a question," and he turned to Jones, saying,
"What you mean is that, while we talk of giving service, we have not any
definite plan of going about it. Isn't that it?"

"Yep," said Jones, "we have no rules or regulations or anything of that

"I see what you mean," I said. "You mean we _talk_ about service, but
don't _give the atmosphere_ of service."

"That's exactly it," went on Jones, "we ought to be able to give people
the feeling that they are being treated differently when they come into
the store."

"Store atmosphere, that is," said Charlie, "and the way to get it is by
having definite rules of conduct--rules which every one should live up

"Do you think it is worth while having a set of written rules of conduct
in a little store like this?" I asked.

"Being a Yankee," laughed Martin, "I'll answer you by asking you another
question. Do you think it is as important for a small store to have
proper accounting methods as a big store?"

For an hour or more we had an animated discussion on what rules of
conduct we ought to adopt for our store, and finally we worked up a list
of twenty-one, which I give as follows:

1. No customer must leave our store dissatisfied.

2. The customer on whom you wait requires all your attention.

3. Approach the customer who enters the store; do not wait for the
customer to approach you.

4. Remember that the object you have in view is to sell goods at a
profit to the store, and to the satisfaction of the customer.

5. The more customers you have, and the more each one spends, the nearer
you are to the attainment of your sales quota.

6. Customers come into the store for their convenience. Let your speech
and manner show that you appreciate the opportunity of serving them.

7. Cleanliness is imperative, from the floor to the ceiling, from your
hair and your shoes to your finger nails.

8. A smile costs nothing. Give one to every customer.

9. Show your appreciation of their patronage by always saying "Thank
you" when giving the package or the change.

10. Customers come into the store to buy merchandise, not to talk to, or
admire you. Do not wear anything, or say anything, that will distract
attention away from the goods to yourself.

11. Repeat the name and address of a customer whenever goods have to be
charged or delivered. An error in writing the name of a customer is
almost a crime.

12. Write distinctly so that others will know what you mean.

13. Try to know the names of customers and, when addressing them, use
their names.

14. Never correct customers' pronunciation of goods. For preference,
adopt their pronunciation.

15. The store is a place for business. Do not allow it to be used as a
meeting place for loafers or for gossips. Nothing drives away real
customers more quickly than this.

16. "Punctuality is the soul of business." Be at the store punctually
and wait on customers promptly.

17. Study your goods and show seasonal articles to all customers whom
you can interest in them, especially if the goods are being advertised.

18. Don't wait till you sell the last one of an article before putting
it on the want book. Remember that it takes time to get supplies.

19. Exercise care in displaying goods. Goods well displayed are half

20. Adopt as your personal slogan:

    "If every worker were just like me,
    What kind of a store would this store be?"

21. Work _with_ your fellow workers.

We felt quite pleased with that list of rules, and the more I looked at
them the better they seemed to me.

We had a discussion as to which of the twenty-one rules of conduct was
the best. Larsen said that number one was the best. I favored
twenty-one. Charlie said four was the best, and we finally agreed with

"Four," said Charlie, "appears to me to be the best, because the whole
object of running this business is to make a profit. All the other rules
are followed merely in order to secure that object."

I really believed that we would find it easier to work according to
definite rules, than to continue with no rules for our guidance.
Furthermore, we ought to be happier, working harmoniously together along
definite lines. We all agreed that following these twenty-one rules
would help us to give the store an atmosphere of _good service_, the
_square deal_, _truthfulness_ and _cooperation_.

Larsen had resumed his Thursday afternoon hunts for business. The first
Thursday, when the old chap got back to the store, he was almost crying
with delight.

"Say, Boss," he said, "those people seemed real glad to see me. They ask
me where I been so long. I tell them I was sick. That's why I dropped
Thursday trips. I felt I was meetin' old friends."

"Fine!" I said. "How much business did you get?"

"Sixteen dollars' worth," he said. "I think by keeping at it we'll get
lots of new business. Remember old Seldom?--well," (Seldom was a real
estate man and quite well-to-do) "he saw me coming in and came out of
his office to me. He made me go to Traglio's and gave me a cigar. Then
he said, 'There's nothing I'm wanting, Larsen, but step over to the
house; I'll tell the missus you are coming over.' Well, Boss, I go to
the house and see her. She had a mail-order catalog and was making out
an order. She's good-natured and fat. She make me cup of tea. She showed
me order to go to Chicago."

"What was it for?" I asked Larsen.

"A bread mixer, for one thing," said Larsen, grinning.

I remembered my bread-mixer episode, so I said: "Well, why didn't she
come here for it? Goodness knows we advertised them enough."

"That's what she said. She said it advertised too much. She thought if
she bought one she get her name in paper or something."

"Why, that's nonsense," I remonstrated.

"That's what she said of the ad," said Larsen.

"Oh, well, forget it," I cried peevishly. "Did you get an order from

"The only one I did get. Here it is--sixteen dollars! I try to sell her
pencil sharpener, but she say, 'That's a man's buy.' I'll sell Seldom
one for her."

"Didn't any of the other people you called on want anything?"

"No," said Larsen, "they not expect me. I didn't like to push this trip.
I think we oughta make a list of season stuff and call on regular
customers. We could sell them stuff they buy from mail-order folks."

Larsen was determined to find some way of coping with the mail-order
houses. We certainly had had some little success, but the mail-order
houses seemed always to be everlastingly on the job.



When I was a boy I had been great chums with a lad named Larry Friday.
Larry used to sleep at our house every other night, and I would sleep at
his house every other night. We certainly knew each other as well as two
boys could.

About six years before I bought this store, he had left town, when his
father had moved to Providence. His father had failed there, his mother
had died, and Larry, who had always had plenty of spending money, was
thrown on his own resources. I had lost track of him, so you can imagine
my surprise when he walked into the store one day.

We had a long chat over old times and I took him home for the night.
Then he told me that he had saved up a few hundred dollars, and wanted
to get another five hundred dollars, for a little while, to enable him
to buy a small stationery business in Providence. His father had been in
the paper business, and for that reason he naturally leaned toward that

"That's too bad, old man," I remarked, when he told me that he was five
hundred dollars short. "If I had the money I'd be only too glad to lend
it to you," as, indeed, I would have been.

"That's what I came to see you about, partly," he replied, leaning over
and becoming very serious. "Now, the present owner of that store is
willing to take my note for two months for the five hundred dollars, if
I can--find some responsible endorser. Listen, old man,"--and he brought
out several sheets of paper all covered with figures. "Let me tell you
exactly the condition of the store."

The figures that he had seemed to show conclusively that in sixty days
at the most he would have sold enough goods to be able to pay the note.

"You see," said Larry, "I would have three hundred dollars in cash,
anyway, as a working capital, so, in a pinch, I would really only have
to find two hundred dollars to pay it. And if you would endorse it for
me--there's not the least risk in it, or else I wouldn't ask you--I am
willing to pay you interest on the money, if you wish, old man."

"Larry!" I exclaimed, quite disappointed that he should suggest such a
thing as interest. "Indeed I'll endorse the note for you, but don't you
talk of interest, for I'm only too happy to be able to help you a bit!"

Just as I had signed my name on the back of the note, Betty came in.

"What are you doing, Dawson?" she asked sharply.

"Just--" I looked at Larry to see whether he had any objection to my
telling Betty about it.

He said, with a little embarrassment: "It's just a little business
matter between Dawson and me."

"You know, old man," I said to Larry, "I talk all my business over with
Betty. Of course you won't mind my telling her about this, will you?"

"Why, no," he returned, as he picked up the note and put it in his

When I told Betty what it was, to my astonishment she said:

"Well, Dawson, if you allow Mr. Friday to have your endorsement on a
note you are very foolish!"

"Betty!" I said, quite mortified to hear her speak so in front of my old

"And," she continued, looking Larry squarely in the face, "if Mr. Friday
allows his friend to endorse a note for him, I don't think he is much of
a friend."

"I am sorry your wife feels that way about it," said Larry. "I guess I'm
coming between you two, old man. Here's the note--you better take it
back, for I think too much of you to do anything that would affect your
happiness. . . . Although I must say that I think Mrs. Black is unjust
to you and me."

"You put that note right back in your pocket!" I commanded. "Betty," I
said sharply, "this is a matter which I can handle without any help.
Thank you!"

"Dawson," said Betty, holding out her hand to me, "I was vexed."

"Come, Larry, old man," I said, "I've known you too many years to allow
my judgment of you to be swayed."

Larry held out his hand to Betty, who, however, turned coldly away and
left the room.

"If you don't mind, old man," said Larry, "I'll not stay with you
to-night, and if you want that note back--" his hand went toward his

"No! If the time comes that I can't trust you, I'll tell you so to your

"You're a real pal!" exclaimed Larry, with feeling eyes.

He packed his grip, and, with a hearty, silent handshake, he left the

I had felt very much astonished and mortified that Betty should have
acted that way, and I went into the house to reason with her. To my
surprise, she was in her room and the door was locked.

"I want to come in," I said.

"Keep on wanting!" she replied, angrily.

"B-but--" the door was suddenly thrown open, and Betty stood there with
her eyes flashing.

"Don't 'but' me. You can hardly make both ends meet now, and your
business is only just making a bare existence,"--I looked
surprised--"yes, a bare existence; and here you jeopardize your future
by endorsing the note of a friend without knowing the first thing about
it! The thing I advise you to do is to begin to save up five hundred
dollars to pay that note."

I laughed.

"Dawson," she said, "there _are_ times when I don't know whether you're
a fool or not. This is one of the times I'm _sure_ you're one!" And,
with that, she slammed the door in my face, and left me aghast.

Betty was still sulky the next day. She could not get over my having
endorsed that note for Larry. I was disappointed in Betty. I didn't
think she would have me throw down a pal. Besides, it had not cost me
anything to endorse the note, when it was sure to be paid long before it
matured. While trying to get Betty to be reasonable, the telephone bell
rang and I said, "Go answer it, Betty."

"Better answer it yourself," she snapped, "perhaps it is some other
friend who wants you to give him some money."

I picked up the telephone and called, "Hello!"

"Hello, yourself, you old scallywag!" came back a voice which was
familiar, though for a minute I could not place it.

"Who is it?" I asked angrily.

"Who's been biting you?" came back the answer. "This is Fred Barlow, old
surly face. What's the matter, anyway? Had a row with the wife?"

Fred Barlow! Old Barlow's son! If ever there was an irrepressible young
man it was Fred Barlow.

"I'm coming right over to see you," he said, and click went the

I went back in the room and growled at Betty: "Fred Barlow's coming over
here. Try to be civil to him."

Betty looked at me for a minute, then crossed the room, and put one arm
around my shoulder.

"Dawson, dear," she said, "you must not get vexed with me. You know,
dearest, I would do everything to make you happy. But you must also
know, dear, you have such a great big heart that you sometimes let it
run away with your head--now, don't you? But you must not get angry with
me. We cannot afford to get cross with each other--can we?"

"I--" but what then happened is nobody's business but ours. Suffice to
say that, when Fred Barlow did breeze into the house, Betty and I were
both smiling, and smiling from our hearts.

"Well, you old turtle doves," said Fred, "what's the price of dollar
razors to-day? I want to buy one so that I can razor rumpus."

"Dawson," said Betty severely, yet with a twinkle in her eye, "please
throw this person out of the house. A man who makes puns on Sunday is
breaking the Sabbath."

"Never mind the Sabbath," said Fred. "If you will ask me to break bread
with you I will stay. What's doing?"

"Well," I said, "I suppose we shall have to ask him, sha'n't we, Betty?"

Then we stopped fooling, and began to talk of general matters. I told
him about Larry Friday.

"Poor old Larry," said Fred.

"Why poor old Larry?" I asked, with a sinking feeling in my heart.

"Why the poor devil only got clear of the bankruptcy court three months
ago. You know he tried to run the Providence business after his father
died, but he made a bad mess of it. Still, I guess he's learned his

I had a cold feeling around my heart, and I began to wish that I had
heeded Betty's advice. A five hundred dollar note is not much to
endorse, if a fellow's got the money; but--

"But can he?" I heard Betty ask.

"Of course he can!" said Fred.

"What's that?" I asked, coming out of my brown study.

"I suppose you know," Fred said, "that I am an agent for the Michigan
car, the best little four-cylinder on the market, twenty miles on a
gallon of gas, seats five people, rides like a feather bed, nine
hundred and fifty dollars."

"Hold on," I cried, "if you have come here to sell me a car, just beat
it while the beating is good."

"I have not," he said, "I have come to tell you that you and Charlie
Martin are going joy riding with me. I have to go to Hartford to attend
the conference of the eastern managers of the Michigan Car Company, and
I think the ride, and a day or so off, would do you and Charlie a world
of good."

"But we can't get away."

"Can't!" jeered Fred. "Hear the man, Betty," he said, turning to her.
"Here is a man in business who says 'can't.' Don't you know that failure
comes in 'can't's' and success comes in 'cans.' How many cans of it can
I sell you?"

"You're full of it to-day, aren't you?" I said.

"Bet you I am, had eggs for breakfast, and am full of yokes."

"But," I said, "Charlie and I can't get away together."

"I'll be around at the house at nine-thirty to-morrow morning, and I'll
pick Charlie up before I get here. We will stay at Hartford on Monday
night, and Tuesday I will leave you folks to enjoy yourselves for a
short time while I attend the conference."

"There isn't anything to do in Hartford," I said.

"Nothing to do! Say, Dawson, wake up! You--a retail merchant--saying
'nothing to do' when there's a bunch of good retail stores there, every
one of which should give you a number of good ideas. Don't you want to
see the Charter Oak? Why, there's a whole lot of interesting things in
Hartford, and it certainly would do you and Martin good to visit there
and get an assortment of good wrinkles. Besides, I want to tell you boys
something about automobiles."

"That's awfully good of you, Fred," I said, "but honest Injun, I'm not
interested in automobiles."

"Autos be blowed!" he said.

"Blown," corrected Betty, smiling.

"Have it your own way," said Fred. "Now," said he, turning to me, "you
and Charlie are coming with me to-morrow as my guests, and I'm going to
give you a real good time. I'll be through at the meeting at four or
five o'clock Tuesday night, and then we'll have a good dinner and a nice
midnight ride back home."

"I will go," I said.

"I knew you would," he replied, "and now, Betty, what about that
bread-breaking stunt you spoke of?"



How work does pile up on one when he is away from business for a day or
two! I was away less than two days; but it took me practically a whole
week to get caught up. I suppose that it was because Charlie and I had
gone away together.

I had a fine time in Hartford. Fred Barlow was full of ideas. He told me
something about a plan that he was then working out for chain garages in
connection with hardware stores.

"You're crazy," I told him. "No one has ever done anything like that

"Good boy!" he said. "The very fact that no one has ever done it before
shows that it has a chance of success. I may have something to say to
you about that later on," he said, mysteriously.

We had a very interesting meeting the following Monday. Our Monday
evening meetings were certainly valuable, and I wouldn't have
discontinued them for anything. It kept the fellows thinking and working
in the interests of the business.

The matter for discussion was, "What can we do to boost sales this

A few days before I had asked old Barlow why he always got the trade for
farming implements. His reply had interested me very much. He said:

"I know exactly the uses of all farming implements I sell. I know what
kind of soil we have for miles around Farmdale. I know what kind of
crops rotate best, and what fertilizer is best for each crop. The result
is that I can advise the farmer what to buy, why he should buy it, and
how to get the best results from using it."

"You must be a regular farmer yourself," I had exclaimed with surprise.
"When did you learn farming?"

Barlow had smiled as he said, "I realized early in the game that if I
meant to win the farmers' trade, I must win their confidence by knowing
their needs, and talking in their own terms; so I bought that little
farm at Mortonville, eight miles from here, just to experiment with and
to study farming."

It just showed how easily a boss can be misunderstood. When I worked for
old Barlow we fellows had always thought he was having a good time every
spring, summer and fall at his farm, and had wished we could get away
from business as often as he did just to "play" on the farm--and all the
time he had been trying out new methods so as to talk helpfully to the

I began to understand more and more why Barlow was so successful. He
never guessed, but always got the facts first hand.

Just the same I'm convinced he made a mistake in not telling his workers
more of his methods--he would not have been so often misunderstood and
misjudged by his employees if he had had meetings with them similar to
my Monday evening "Directors' Meeting."

Well, to come back to our meeting. Of course, we had decided to have a
full line of gardening tools. Jones suggested that we add garden seeds,
which we had never kept because Traglio, the druggist, sold them.

I demurred, saying, "We ought not trespass on Traglio's trade for seeds,
which he has had for years."

Charlie Martin said, "Of course, it's splendid of you, Mr. Black, to be
so considerate; but, after all, business is no 'After-you-Alphonse'
affair. I believe you should sell garden seeds. The hardware store that
sells garden tools is also the logical place for seeds."

Larsen agreed with Charlie, while Jimmie said, "Gee, boss, that's a
great idea--and let's grow some in the window so as to show the seeds
are there with the sproutin' act."

We finally decided to sell garden seeds.

Jones then suggested that we should make a big window display of seeds
and tools, "Not just a 'dead' display, you know, Mr. Black, but a
display of them in use. That's the way to attract attention to the
goods--show 'em being used," he concluded.

"How are we to show seeds in use?" I asked.

Jones was stumped and so was Larsen--even Jimmie had no idea. We all
looked at Charlie when he said, "I remember seeing a good display of
garden seeds once."

"Well," I said, "what was it?"

"As near as I can describe it, it was fixed like this," said Charlie.
"The floor of the window was covered with soil divided into little
plots. Each plot had a single variety of seeds arranged on top of it in
orderly rows. In the center of each plot was a 'talking' sign something
to this effect:


     A 5¢ package is sufficient for fifty square feet of
     soil. They should, under normal conditions, produce
     ---- pints of beans, worth at retail $3.75.

"I don't remember the price, the ground space, nor the production,"
confessed Charlie, "but that's the general idea. The five cents' worth
of seeds (or whatever the amount was) was visualized. The amount of
ground they required was then given, and, after that, the average
production and its value. At the rear of the window all kinds of
gardening tools were arranged--each one price-ticketed, of course."

"That's splendid," I said, enthusiastically. "We'll appoint you a
committee of one to find out what seeds to buy and all about them."

"I don't know the first thing about gardening," objected Charlie, "and
will be more than glad if you'll let some one else do it."

I was about to insist when, in an undertone, he added, "Believe me, Mr.
Black, I've a very real reason for asking you to excuse me."

"Very well," I replied, somewhat nettled. "Jones can do it."

I wondered why Charlie was so earnest in wishing to be excused!

"Well," I said briskly, "that disposes of one thing. What else can we do
this spring to boost business?"

"The fish are biting," said Larsen. "Stigler has a sign in his window
that says so."

"I intended stocking fishing tackle this season!" I exclaimed. Then,
after a pause, "And we'll do it, too. I'll not let Stigler put anything
over on me."

"He's always sold 'em, so I understand," said Charlie, "so perhaps you
will want to consider him and his trade as you did Traglio."

I saw a twinkle in his eye as he spoke, for he knew my contempt for
Stigler. "Oh, that's different," said I, lamely.

"In that case," continued Charlie, dryly, "I suggest we sell fishing
tackle--and do it right away. If I can help I will, for I do know
something about fishing."

Just then I thought of Barlow and his grip on the farming implement
trade, and, at the same instant, I saw a way of applying his principles
to fishing, so I said, "Here's a plan for boosting fishing tackle. We'll
have Martin find out right away what pools and rivers there are in our
locality. We'll also find out what kind of fish can be caught therein.
All this information we'll have in black and white so that we all can
learn it."

As I talked the plan enlarged and took definite shape.

"Then," I continued eagerly, "we'll find out the best ways to get to all
these fishing grounds--fishing waters, I mean," I said, as they all
began to laugh. "In addition to that, we'll find out where to stay;
where to pitch a tent if necessary, where supplies can be bought, and
anything else that will help the fisherman to know where to go, what to
catch, where to live while there, and, most important of all for us,
what kind of tackle to use to catch the fish he's after."

"In other words," I said, triumphantly, "we'll make ourselves experts on
fishing, so that people wanting to know when the ice is off the lake, or
when the season is 'on' or 'off'--where fishing is reported good or
poor; or what flies are in the market--will naturally gravitate to our

They all became enthusiastic over the plan, and Charlie promised to have
the data all ready by the end of the week.

Jimmie then asked what we purposed doing about baseball goods and other
sporting goods. We decided, much to his disappointment, that, while we
ought to have them, we couldn't manage it that year.

"Barlow's already got 'em," said Larsen. "Too late now. Cream of trade
already drunk by 'pussy' Barlow."

I felt vexed to think we had lost our chance on them, just because I had
not thought ahead sufficiently.

The next day, I had quite a disturbing talk with Jock McTavish. Betty
had told him about my endorsing a note for five hundred dollars for my
old school chum, Larry Friday.

"Ye see," said Jock, "your credit is no' too good." I was about to
protest, indignantly, when Jock continued, "Bide a wee, lad, and let me
hae my say.

"Let's see what your live assets are," he continued. "There's your
beesiness, o' course; but your bank account is only sufficient--barely
sufficient, ye ken--tae meet your bills and current expenses. As a
matter o' fact," he said gravely, "ye lost some discount last month for
no' paying in ten days. I've told ye before never to lose discount.
Borrow the money first. It pays to borrow money at six per cent. per
year to make it earn two per cent. in ten days--or thirty-six per cent.
per year."

"Yes, yes," I said, impatiently, "you've told me that before."

"Exactly," said Jock, "but ye didna do it--and knowing ye ought to isn't
worth a piper's squeal--unless ye do it.

"Then," he went on, "ye hae the farm--or rather ye haven't, since
Blickens holds the mortgage on it--and makin' ye pay ten per cent.
interest as weel.

"So your quick assets are practically nothing. And here ye are, Black,
wi' no quick assets--and increasing liabilities (I blushed a bit at
that, for I knew he was referring to Betty) ye go and add to your
difficulties by adding a potential liability o' five hundred dollars."

"That's nonsense," I retorted. "Friday's as good as gold for it, and
I've not the least chance of having to meet the note."

"That's what they aw' say until--" this from Jock.

"And suppose," I said, "I did have to pay it, I guess I could with all
the profit I am making. You, yourself, worked it out and should know."

"Profit? Profit?" said Jock. "I didna say ye had any profit. I said the
beesiness showed a profit, which is a horse o' anither color."

"How so?" I asked.

"Profit is no' made 'till goods are sold and paid for," explained Jock.
"Your accounts receivable are only worth the value o' the creditors--and
some ye hae are nae good. Your beesiness shows a paper profit, but it
has all gone into stock. If ye hae tae realize on it, quickly, it would
shrink alarmingly in value. In fact, with a forced sale ye would show a
big loss on your beesiness venture instead o' the paper gain ye show

I had never realized this before, but the way Jock explained it made it
clear to me, and it certainly worried me, for I had been feeling
contented and satisfied that everything was going along nicely, and here
came Jock, who proved to me that all my profit was potential.

"Ye can't claim tae hae a pr-rofit," Jock said, "until ye hae the actual
money oot o' the beesiness. Never mind what the wise ones tell ye,
profit is no' real profit unless it is a cash one which the beesiness
can spare. Ye can't spare any money frae your business, so ye hae no
real profit."

"How am I to pay the bonus to the men?" I asked.

"Ye can't," said Jock, "till ye stop increasing your stock so mooch."

"Look into this matter also," here Jock wagged his finger at me; "see
that ye don't increase your stock investment wi'out increasing your
sales correspondingly. If ye are the merchandiser I think ye are, ye'll
try to cut doon stock investment and keep up your sales--and increase
'em, thus speeding up your turn-over.

"Remember," his parting words were, "never miss your interest on the
farm mortgage. If ye do Blickens 'll tak it."

Do you wonder I felt worried? I felt as if the ground had been cut right
from under my feet. To add to my troubles Stigler advertised a cut-rate
sale on garden seeds!



The next week I went with Charlie Martin and Fred Barlow to Boston to
buy the automobile accessories which we had decided upon when old man
Barlow and I had fixed up that gasoline deal.

He had come to the house one evening and suggested it was time to get

"Fred knows the automobile business thoroughly--and Charlie is well up
on it also," said Barlow, "so I would suggest that, as I have to put up
the money, if necessary, on what you buy, you let Fred and Charlie go
with you. Their knowledge should be helpful to you."

"That's a good idea," I agreed; "we'll go next Monday."

"I'll tell Fred to be ready to go with you then," Barlow said. He was
silent for a minute, then he went on, "Fred has to buy a lot of
automobile accessories for his people, so perhaps, by pooling his and
your orders, you can get prices shaved a bit."

I looked up with surprise. "I thought Fred had left his Detroit people."

"He has," said Barlow, abruptly, "but he has made new connections

I wanted to ask what they were, but Barlow's attitude warned me not to.

So, the three of us went to Boston and bought a complete stock of
automobile accessories. I followed Fred Barlow's lead, for he certainly
was familiar with the goods.

The next day the men came to make arrangements for putting in the gas
tank. While they were measuring the pavement, and deciding just where to
fix the pump, Stigler happened along.

"Morning, Stigler," I said, with an attempt at joviality; "how's

"Fine," he responded. "How's bread mixers going?" He sneered as he
spoke, and I felt myself getting mad.

"So, so," I replied--then, in an attempt to equal up the score, I added,
"Too bad your five-and-ten-cent store proved such a fizzle!"

He turned sharply on me and snarled, "You keep yer damned tongue still
when yer see me. I don't let whelps like you talk 'big' to me and get
away with it, savvy?"

Without another word he walked away, leaving me taut and trembling with

I had been given to understand that Stigler's plan of continual price
cutting had cut his profits to the vanishing point. He had brooded over
it so much that it had become a mania with him. Unfortunately, he held
me responsible for his troubles.

I told Betty about it as a good joke on Stigler, but she didn't laugh,
instead she said gravely, "Leave that man alone, my dear; he is
dangerous. Don't pick quarrels with him, or you may come to blows, or
worse. Remember, dearest, that I need you more than ever--now."

How dear she was, and how brave and happy she kept while waiting--I
could not let her have anything to worry about until after.

Charlie Martin had asked if he could come around to the house that
evening, and, of course, I had said, "Yes."

Charlie had grown to be one of us almost, and I hardly realized how much
I had come to depend on him until the thought of losing him occurred to

I don't know how I had happened to get into the habit of looking upon
Charlie as a fixture with me. I knew his people were fairly well to do,
and that the eight dollars a week I paid him were a mere bagatelle
toward his living expenses. One gets into the habit, however, of
accepting things on surface evidence, until one loses sight of the
motive which is at the back of the evidence. For instance, if I had
thought a bit, I would have known Charlie hadn't worked for eight
dollars a week just because he needed a job.

One thing it taught me was that I must not confuse the apparent with the
real. Thereafter, whenever a man said anything to me, I remembered that
there was a motive at the back of what he said, and that if I was going
to understand other people I must understand the motive which impelled
their action. For instance, I knew that, when a man came in to buy a saw
from me, he had a reason for buying that saw. The more I knew of his
reason for buying it, the more able I was to sell him just what he

If a man put up a business proposition to me which looked good for me I
remembered that it was not for me that he was doing it. I was not the
reason which impelled him to give me a good deal. It was something
which he eventually was going to get out of it himself. So I said to
myself, "Why does he want to do this for me?" And if I could not find a
good logical reason I left it alone until I could.

"Dawson," said Charlie, after dinner--he had got to calling me Dawson
outside of business--"Do you know why I have been working for you for
the last few months?"

"Why, no, unless you've just wanted to do something."

"I never do anything just because I want to fill in some spare time," he
smiled. "My business training has taught me that I cannot afford to make
a lot of waste motions. I came to your store because I wanted a
small-store experience."

"We're not so small," I protested.

"Well, let's say small compared to Bon Marche in Paris, or Selfridges in
London, or Marshall Field in Chicago, or such young concerns. However, I
think I know more about small-store conduct than I did before, now that
I've had some experience. You see, I studied retail merchandising, but
that was only half the battle, you know. All I learned there was no use
whatever until I found whether I could actually apply it.

"As you know," he continued, "I went to Detroit and studied the
automobile business--not from the manufacturing end, but from the
distribution end--because Fred Barlow and I had a hunch that there was a
big future in automobile selling, if we could discover it."

"I should think there was a big 'present,'" I remarked.

"Yes, there is a big present for the manufacturers, and some few
distributors make a fine thing out of it. But the distribution end
struck us as being very inadequate."

"Fancy you two young fellows deciding that the big bucks up in Detroit
don't know how to sell automobiles!"

"I guess you're right, at that," agreed Charlie; "but the outsider often
gets a different slant on things from the fellow who is continually on
the job. But that's neither here nor there," and he waved his hand as if
to brush aside the discussion. "The point is that Fred and I went to
Detroit together and studied the automobile business from the
distribution end, and, of course, we also learned how they are made. We
then looked into the accessories, and found out quite a lot about
selling them. Then we decided we wanted retail-store experience,
particularly in hardware. So Fred has been studying the practical side
of retail-store management in his dad's office, while I have been
studying it in yours."

"Do you think that's quite fair?" I said indignantly, "for you and Fred
Barlow to use his father and me as suckers?"

"Don't get vexed," he said quietly, "until you know the reason for our
actions." Then he continued, "I don't think you have any cause to
complain at what I've done for you, Dawson. I think I've been worth my
eight dollars a week."

"Of course you have. Forgive me."

"Here's the idea," he resumed. "The hardware stores of the country are
at last waking up to the fact that automobile accessories are logically
a department of the hardware store. We feel, however, that the garage
itself is a logical department of the hardware store. The hardware store
in the past has lost several lines which ought to belong to it. Look at
the number of hardware lines the drug stores sell, and the department
stores also. If the hardware stores had been on the job it would have
been impossible to have bought a bicycle anywhere than at a hardware

"Now, we have to admit that, of late, the hardware repair shop has not
been a flourishing, profitable department. In fact, many hardware stores
have eliminated it, sending outside such odd jobs as must be done. We
believed--in fact, we still believe, that the hardware store of the town
should also be the leading garage of the town, and that the garage is
the natural development of the tin shop. Many hardware stores are
selling gasoline, and, as you know, automobile accessories are becoming
quite common in a hardware store.

"If we had a garage adjacent to our hardware store," he continued, "we
could not only supply a man with accessories, but attach them to his
car. If a man has a breakdown, we are in a position to repair his car,
and then exercise our selling ability to sell him accessories.

"Just look at the average garage! Did you ever know of a garage man who
made a display of accessories? If the present garagemen were on to the
job they could put the hardware man out of business, so far as
accessories are concerned." Here Charlie paused for a minute, and then
added: "Except, perhaps, in the larger cities.

"As you know, my dad has quite a little money, and he is willing to set
me up in business. Fred Barlow's dad has a little money, also."

I smiled at this, because it was known all over town that old man Barlow
was one of our wealthiest citizens.

"Fred and I and our dads," he continued, "have formed a little
corporation under the title of Martin & Barlow. What we plan to do is to
operate a chain of garages in connection with the best hardware store in
each town. We are going to run a garage in Farmdale here, in that place
exactly opposite Barlow's store. We are also going to have a display
window in the garage where accessories will be shown. The hardware store
will also contain a big display of accessories, which will be under our
control. We are going to pay Mr. Barlow a small sum for rent of space in
his store. Fred or I will be in charge of that to begin with.

"We have a man coming from the Michigan Car Company to look after the
garage. We will also have the exclusive agency for this territory for
the Michigan car. That is how it will work out," he continued, after a
moment's pause.

"We shall train one of Barlow's clerks to look after the accessories
department in the store. We shall then have our own man who will go
around selling cars in this locality. We shall also have a man in the
garage who understands repairs of all kinds, and particularly the
Michigan car, for which he shall carry a complete line of parts."

"Will that pay Barlow?" I asked.

"Yes, for in return for his providing a salesman for the accessories
department, we will give him a percentage of the profits from that
department, besides guaranteeing him a small sum for rent every month.

"Now our salesman for the Michigan car will also canvass the car owners
in the locality--representing Barlow's store, you understand,--and
secure their business for accessories. We believe that he will sell
enough cars and accessories to pay for himself and to make money for the
store and us. In addition to this the salesman will take orders for
general hardware whenever the opportunity occurs, and on such business
the store gives us a commission. In other words, you see, our salesman
is really a salesman for everything that Barlow will sell.

"The man we will have in charge of the garage is not only thoroughly
trained in repair work of all kinds by the Michigan Car Company, but he
has also been given a special schooling in simple bookkeeping,
salesmanship, the need of cleanliness, courtesy, and the best way to
keep his garage smart and attractive. He is not only able to repair
cars, but he knows how to _charge_ for his repairs."

"All the garage men I know don't need any training in _that_," I said,
with a grin.

He smiled and went on: "Now, when we have this town working properly we
want to make arrangements with a good hardware man in another town. Fred
Barlow and I will get hold of a local man, train him in the selling of
the Michigan car, and show him how to go about building up accessories
and general hardware trade. We will also teach one of the hardware man's
clerks how to sell accessories; and the Michigan Car Company will then
send us another man with the same training as the first to look after
the garage for us, which will in every case be located as near to the
hardware store as possible. The Michigan Car Company is running a
regular class-room in its factory, so that we will have fifty men,
properly trained, if we need them.

"Of course, we shall have signs up in the garage that automobile
accessories and hardware can be bought from the hardware store, and in
the hardware store there will be signs saying that gasoline and repairs
of all kinds are to be had in our garage, at such an address.

"In each town we will operate our business in the name of the local

"Won't you have a job in checking up your cash? Do you have your
salesman look after that, and bond him?"

"No," he replied. "The local hardware man is responsible for all cash.
We get him to receive all the money collected, render us a weekly
report, and send us a check for the full amount, with a list of any
goods wanted for either the garage or the accessories department."

"Can you get the hardware people to do that?" I asked skeptically.

"We think we can."

"Do you think you can get them to go to all that bother and trouble?"

Charlie smiled and replied: "If they are not willing to go to that
bother and trouble we would not want to work with them, for it would
show they were 'dead ones.' We believe that live hardware people will be
glad to work with us on a proposition such as this, which will be a
source of profit to them, as well as increased sales on their regular
hardware lines."

"What's the local garage man going to say about this?" I asked.

"It will be a survival of the fittest," he said quietly. "We have not
entered into this to put the garage man out of business, but merely to
get a garage business for ourselves. We shall not consider him in any
way, or go out of our way to fight him. We shall merely mind our own
business, and get as much of it to mind as we can."

"When are you going to start here?"

"May 1st," he replied.

"Say," I exclaimed, sitting up straight, "then all those goods Fred and
you bought while with me in Boston are really for your store here?"


"Well, why didn't you or Barlow say something about it?"

"Look here, Dawson, we can trust you to the last gun shot; but, if one
wants to keep a thing quiet the best way is to tell nobody, for if he
starts to tell one, before he knows it he is telling some one else, and
his plans may be frustrated before he has a chance of putting them into

"Why bother to tell me about it all, then?" And then another distressing
thought occurred to me. "Look here, Charlie, this is going to hurt me.
If you have a man going around selling hardware he is going to upset
Larsen on his weekly trips to get business. Then, what's the good of my
having accessories, if you are fighting me all the time?"

The more I thought about it the more alarming it became.

"I'm going to see old Barlow first thing in the morning." I felt my
temper rising. "I am going to tell him to keep his old gas tank. I won't
have it; and as for those accessories, I'll return them right away.
You're not going to use me as a cat's-paw in your business, and you and
Barlow can go--"

"Oh, shut up!" said Charlie, sharply. "Look here, Dawson, old man Barlow
never did anything to hurt you, and is not going to now. Fred and I
think too much of you. In fact, we want you to help us and yourself at
the same time. This town is big enough for two hardware stores with
accessories. The only man who is going to be pinched here is Martin, who
runs the garage, and as a matter of fact, old Barlow is out for Martin's

I then recalled an episode between old man Barlow and Martin, the garage
man, some years ago, when they had a lawsuit over a land boundary.
Martin played some very dirty trick on Barlow, who lost his case. The
only comment Barlow ever made was, "I can wait." It looked to me as if
Barlow was helping to start a new idea in chain store organization, and
at the same time paying off an old score.

"Well, where do I come in on this deal?" I asked, somewhat suspiciously,
I must own.

"Listen, Dawson," said Charlie, putting his hand on my knee, "you're a
mighty original chap. Some of the selling stunts you have pulled off
here show you have an excellent merchandising instinct. You have made
some 'bulls,' of course, but I'd hate to have a fellow around me who
couldn't make some mistakes. When we've got our plan in this town
working properly, we would like you, if we could get you, to thoroughly
study the automobile accessories business, and think up ways and means
of selling them; and then we'd like you, if you would to come in with us
as a partner and take charge of the selling and displaying of the
accessories for all our stores. We would also like to have you write up
form letters to send to car owners, and go around and visit the stores
and see that the goods are being displayed properly. Think up new
selling wrinkles for salesmen, and things of that sort."

Then he got up abruptly, leaving my head in a whirlwind with the torrent
of thoughts he had given me, and said, "Think it over, old man, and talk
about it with Betty, but don't let it go any further!"



There followed three such strenuous months that everything had to go by
the board, except business; and I cannot with any clearness remember
everything that took place.

We started our profit-sharing plan, as arranged on June 1, the beginning
of my fiscal year. I had thought we had so thoroughly threshed out the
plan that it would work like a charm; but two months had barely passed
before friction started. Larsen felt he ought to get a larger percentage
of the profits than his salary called for, because he went out selling,
and said that he thereby created business which no one else could get
and he did his regular work besides. Whenever the boy Jimmie made a
suggestion of any kind he, at the same time, added that he ought to have
a special extra bonus for that suggestion, if it was any good. I talked
the matter over with Jock, and finally we straightened it out, but I
have not the time to tell you how we satisfied the warring elements.

I would also like to tell in detail of the starting of the new chain
garage plan. In three months it was already working well in Farmdale,
and negotiations had been completed for the second garage in
Hartleyville. We had struck an awful lot of snags in starting this plan.
How to handle the store, and at the same time study automobile
accessories, had been some job, but Fred Barlow and Charlie Martin were
certainly live wires, and they could think up more ways of doing a thing
than I ever dreamed of.

I remember once reading something by Elbert Hubbard in which he said
that every business required a pessimist, an optimist, and a grouch. I
believed we would succeed, for old Barlow was certainly the pessimist in
the bunch, and whenever Charlie or Fred went to him with any new idea
they wanted to "pull off" in connection with the garage chain plan he
acted like a brake to their enthusiasm--or, as he put it, kept them down
to Mother Earth.

Charlie's father had oodles of money, and was the principal director of
the idea, and he was the grouch. Charlie used to say that his dad never
believed anything until he actually saw it.

"If I were to go to him," said Charlie, "and say to him, 'Dad, I made a
hundred dollars to-day,' he would say, 'Show it to me,' and, if I did
show it to him, he would then ask me if I had planned what I was going
to do with it to make it earn more money. If I had told him I had, he
would then say that either the investment I had planned was safe enough
but didn't pay enough dividend--or else that it wasn't safe, although it
paid a good dividend. I'd hate to have a disposition like Dad's,"
laughed Charlie, "and yet Dad's a good old scout, and he must believe in
the plan, else he wouldn't back it the way he is doing."

Charlie, Fred and I were the optimists, I guess.

I had to thank old Barlow for doing me one good turn, for, during all
the excitement I had completely forgotten to make my payment to the
president of the bank, Mr. Blickens. It was the monthly payment of
fifty dollars to apply against the mortgage on my farm. Jock had
repeatedly told me to be sure not to get behind with that or I might
lose my farm. The very morning after the payment was due I had a
telephone call from Blickens, asking me to go to see him. I went, and he
reminded me I hadn't made my payment. I said I would write out my check
there and then, but he said, "I don't think it is at all satisfactory."

"You must take up the mortgage at once or I shall foreclose," he added
in that acid tone of his.

"But, Mr. Blickens, you couldn't do that!"

"Couldn't?" he snapped. "You don't know what I could do." He pulled out
his watch and said, "It's ten now--you must take up that note by twelve
or I shall foreclose."

Old Barlow was in the bank as I came out of the president's office, and
he evidently noticed I was feeling disturbed, for as I left the bank he
followed me and put his arm around my shoulders in such a kindly way
that I just told him the whole story.

He screwed his mouth a little, a habit he had when thinking quickly.
Then "Come back to the bank," he said, shortly. He wrote out a check for
cash, drew the money and gave it to me, saying, "Give that to him."

We entered Blickens' office together. He looked surprised to see old man
Barlow, too. "What do you want?" he snarled.

"Nothing," smiled Barlow, "only I just wondered if you couldn't give
young Black here a little longer on that note. He's all right. Would you
give him a little longer if I endorsed his note?"

"Look here, Mr. Barlow," snapped Blickens, "you've interfered once or
twice in my business. I told Black that I'd give him till twelve o'clock
to take up that mortgage. If he is going around whining after I have
helped him, I'll give him no time at all. He must pay the money right
here and now--or I'll foreclose at once."

"Pay him, Dawson," said Barlow, quietly.

"I won't accept a check--it isn't legal tender, and his check wouldn't
be any good either."

By this time I had pulled out the roll of money, and say, it did me good
to see Blickens' eyes. They stuck out of his head so far you could have
knocked them off with a stick. He fairly gurgled with disappointment,
but there was nothing else to do but take his medicine, which he did
none too graciously.

I gave Barlow a demand note, with the farm as collateral, to cover the
loan he had made me. I felt safer; but it wasn't my fault that I hadn't
lost my farm. What a lot of trouble borrowing money gets one into!

When I got home from this episode, which had started me so unpleasantly,
but which had finished so well for me, I found a letter from Larry
Friday, in which he said that he found he had been stung badly on the
store, and he didn't know whether he would be able to carry it on or
not. He hoped, however, before the note matured, to find _some_ of the
money, but would see eventually that I got paid back what I would have
to pay. I felt positively sick.

I was sitting by Betty's bedside when I read the letter, and she noticed
my face change.

"What is it, boy dear?"

I silently passed the letter over to her and waited for her to say, "I
told you so." Some women are wonderful--aren't they? She said nothing of
the sort, but patted my hand and said:

"Too bad, but never mind, dear, I'd much sooner you'd lose a few dollars
because you've such a big heart, than have you make a lot of money by
being like Blickens."

I realized that I would have to set to and save every penny I could to
apply against that note when it came due. There was still a month to get
together whatever money I could, but it was going to spoil some selling
plans I had wanted to try for the store. Never again, would I endorse a
note for any man! I have certainly learned my lesson. But why, oh why,
couldn't I have profited by other people's experience instead of having
to learn business methods by my own? The tuition fee in the school of
experience is mighty high.

Now, I must tell you the dreadful scare we had a few nights later. At
eleven-thirty at night--just as I was impatiently walking the floor of
our little sitting-room, while the doctor was upstairs with Betty, I
heard the fire engine dash past the end of the street. At the same time
I saw a huge tongue of flame shoot above the house, with the
accompaniment of a dull roar. The flame was in the direction of my
store, and, of course, my first thought was that my store had caught
fire again--or that Stigler had fired it.

For the last few months Stigler had been acting queerly. He used to
stand across the road from my store and nervously bite his finger nails.
Then he would unconsciously rub his forehead in a slow methodical way.
After a time he would return to his own store, would gaze into the
windows and mutter incoherently to himself. I felt that Stigler had for
some time been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Business had been
going very badly with him, I knew, because a jobbing house from which I
bought had stopped his credit.

During the previous three weeks he had been selling goods at ridiculous
prices. Not satisfied with normal cuts, he in many cases had sold goods
below cost. It had worried me, and I had told Barlow, who had said to
let him alone, as a price cutter was a hog and would eventually finish
by cutting his own business throat, and he had advised me to keep clear
of Stigler, as he (Stigler) attributed all his misfortunes to my
competition--and he hadn't forgiven me for winning Betty.

Well, to get back to that fatal night. I saw the nurse in the corridor,
so I told her that I would be home again in a few minutes, and not to
tell Mrs. Black that there was a fire. I then grabbed my hat and ran
down the street.

I found it was not my store, but Stigler's. It was a most horrible, but
fascinating, sight. The body of the store was blazing like a furnace.
The bright red glow from it shone across the road and its light, dancing
upon the faces of the crowd watching the fire, made an eerie sight.
Little tongues of fire were already shooting out of the upstairs
windows, while one side of the roof was well alight. Little running
streams of flame kept playing backwards and forwards across it, and,
even while I watched, there was another roar and part of the roof

I knew the fireman who was holding the horses' heads. "Some fire," I
said to him in an undertone.

"You bet it is," he replied curtly; "the beggar set it himself."

"Nonsense!" I said incredulously.

"The place has been saturated with gasoline. A fire couldn't catch like
that in so brief a time. It will be a pretty serious matter for Stigler,
believe me."

My brain was in a whirl with the roar and crash of the fire, the light
glowing all around. The knowledge that Stigler had fired his own store
and the fact that I was the man he had openly blamed for his misfortune
gave me an impression of deep apprehension. Yet somehow I felt sorry for
Stigler, for, while he had all the time been competing with me, I had
never competed with him; although, goodness knows, I probably would have
done so had it not been for the wiser council of Barlow.

While I stood there, wondering and anxious, I felt some one near me.
Why, I don't know, but my feeling of apprehension was now accompanied by
intense horror. I wanted to turn and see who it was--and yet I
positively dreaded to. In a moment I heard a voice hiss in my ear:

"I hope yer satisfied now. That's your work. You--you were the cause of
that. You've been the ruin of an honest man, but yer sha'n't live to
enjoy yer victory--"

I turned and saw Stigler--his face chalky white--his blood-shot eyes
wide and staring; a little saliva trickling from the corner of his
mouth. Just then another crash came and a flame shot skyward. It played
upon his face and gave him the appearance of some evil spirit. I put my
hands up just as he leaped toward me. I felt his fingers tightening
around my throat. I tried to shout, but couldn't--only beating my fists
upon his face.

It was over as quickly as it started, for the crowd instantly tore him
from me. At last my scattered wits recalled what had happened, and I saw
Stigler being marched away shrieking and laughing crazily.

Two good souls took hold of me, one by each arm, and led me away from
the scene of the fire. After a few minutes I regained my self-control,
and remembered what was taking place at home. I asked my friends to go
that far with me. As we reached the end of our street a policeman came
to me and said, "Can you tell me anything about Stigler?"

"Not to-night," I replied.

"Will you report to the police station in the morning? We'll probably
want you."

"What for?"

"Well, Stigler has just died." . . .

Poor Stigler--he had been his own worst enemy and had paid a heavier
price than any one else would have demanded of him!

My thoughts were really sad as I opened the door of my home--home? yes,
indeed! For as soon as I entered the house I knew it was a dearer home
than it had ever been.

The doctor was downstairs, smiling.

"Tell me, doctor, quick--what is it?"

"Well, Daddy," he said kindly, "would you like to see your little boy?"

"How's Betty?" was my answer to him.

"Doing splendidly."

"Can I?--"

"Don't look so worried. This thing is happening every day, all over the



_By Eliot Harlow Robinson_

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have appeared serially in important trade magazines and newspapers all
over the country, has created an insistent demand for their book

The public demand for these stories compelled the author to continue
them so long that, were they all published in book form, they would
constitute a set of several volumes. By careful and scrutinizing
editorial work the author has recast the very best of this material for
book publication, the result being a story that is virile, compelling
and convincing as it leads the reader through the maze of business

_A New York business man wrote:_ "I have read with much interest the
'Career of Peter Flint,' appearing in the _Evening Sun_.

"Having come to New York fresh from college twelve years ago, I
appreciate fully Peter's experience. I want to say that I think your
knowledge of human nature almost uncanny."

Selections from
The Page Company's
List of Fiction


Each, one volume, cloth decorative, 12mo, illustrated, $1.50

POLLYANNA: The GLAD Book (430,000)

Mr. Leigh Mitchell Hodges, The Optimist, in an editorial for the
_Philadelphia North American_, says: "And when, after Pollyanna has gone
away, you get her letter saying she is going to take 'eight steps'
tomorrow--well, I don't know just what you may do, but I know of one
person who buried his face in his hands and shook with the gladdest sort
of sadness and got down on his knees and thanked the Giver of all
gladness for Pollyanna."


When the story of POLLYANNA told in The _Glad_ Book was ended, a great
cry of regret for the vanishing "Glad Girl" went up all over the
country--and other countries, too. Now POLLYANNA appears again, just as
sweet and joyous-hearted, more grown up and more lovable.

"Take away frowns! Put down the worries! Stop fidgeting and disagreeing
and grumbling! Cheer up, everybody! POLLYANNA has come
back!"--_Christian Herald._

_The GLAD Book Calendar_


(_This calendar is issued annually; the calendar for the new year being
ready about Sept. 1st of the preceding year._

Decorated and printed in colors.      $1.50

"There is a message of cheer on every page, and the calendar is
beautifully illustrated."--_Kansas City Star._

MISS BILLY (22nd printing)

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a painting by
G. Tyng. $1.50

"There is something altogether fascinating about 'Miss Billy,' some
inexplicable feminine characteristic that seems to demand the individual
attention of the reader from the moment we open the book until we
reluctantly turn the last page."--_Boston Transcript._

MISS BILLY'S DECISION (15th printing)

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a painting by
Henry W. Moore. $1.50

"The story is written in bright, clever style and has plenty of action
and humor. Miss Billy is nice to know and so are her friends."--_New
Haven Times Leader._

MISS BILLY--MARRIED (12th printing)

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a painting by
W. Haskell Coffin. $1.50

"Although Pollyanna is the only copyrighted glad girl, Miss Billy is
just as glad as the younger figure and radiates just as much gladness.
She disseminates joy so naturally that we wonder why all girls are not
like her."--_Boston Transcript._

SIX STAR RANCH (20th Printing)

Cloth decorative, 12mo, illustrated by R. Farrington Elwell. $1.50

"'Six Star Ranch' bears all the charm of the author's genius and is
about a little girl down in Texas who practices the 'Pollyanna
Philosophy' with irresistible success. The book is one of the kindliest
things, if not the best, that the author of the Pollyanna books has
done. It is a welcome addition to the fast-growing family of _Glad_
Books."--_Howard Russell Bangs in the Boston Post._


Cloth decorative, illustrated. $1.25

"To one who enjoys a story of life as it is to-day, with its sorrows as
well as its triumphs, this volume is sure to appeal."--_Book News


Cloth decorative, illustrated. $1.35

"A very beautiful book showing the influence that went to the developing
of the life of a dear little girl into a true and good woman."--_Herald
and Presbyter, Cincinnati, Ohio._



Each, one volume, cloth decorative, 12mo, illustrated, $1.50

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (45th printing)

"In 'Anne of Green Gables' you will find the dearest and most moving and
delightful child since the immortal Alice."--_Mark Twain in a letter to
Francis Wilson._

ANNE OF AVONLEA (30th printing)

"A book to lift the spirit and send the pessimist into
bankruptcy"--_Meredith Nicholson._


"A story of decidedly unusual conception and interest."--_Baltimore

ANNE OF THE ISLAND (15th printing)

"It has been well worth while to watch the growing up of Anne, and the
privilege of being on intimate terms with her throughout the process has
been properly valued."--_New York Herald._

       *       *       *       *       *

Each, one volume, cloth decorative, 12mo, illustrated, $1.50

THE STORY GIRL (10th printing)

"A book that holds one's interest and keeps a kindly smile upon one's
lips and in one's heart."--_Chicago Inter-Ocean._

KILMENY OF THE ORCHARD (13th printing)

"A story born in the heart of Arcadia and brimful of the sweet life of
the primitive environment."--_Boston Herald._

THE GOLDEN ROAD (6th printing)

"It is a simple, tender tale, touched to higher notes, now and then, by
delicate hints of romance, tragedy and pathos."--_Chicago


Each, one volume, cloth decorative, 12mo, illustrated, $1.50

THE BLOSSOM SHOP: A Story of the South

"Frankly and wholly romance is this book, and lovable--as is a fairy
tale properly told."--_Chicago Inter-Ocean._

ANNE OF THE BLOSSOM SHOP: Or, the Growing Up of Anne Carter

"A charming portrayal of the attractive life of the South, refreshing as
a breeze that blows through a pine forest."--_Albany Times-Union._


"The story is most beautifully told. It brings in most charming people,
and presents a picture of home life that is most appealing in love and
affection."--_Every Evening, Wilmington, Del._


"In the writing of the book the author is at her best as a story teller.
The humor that ripples here and there, the dramatic scenes that stir,
and the golden thread of romance that runs through it all, go to make a
marked success. It is a fitting climax to the series."--_Reader._



Cloth decorative, illustrated $1.50

"A thoroughly enjoyable tale, written in a delightful vein of
sympathetic comprehension."--_Boston Herald._


Cloth decorative, illustrated $1.50

"A book which contributes so much of freshness, enthusiasm, and healthy
life to offset the usual offerings of modern fiction, deserves all the
praise which can be showered upon it."--_Kindergarten Review._


Cloth decorative, illustrated $1.50

"The author's style remains simple and direct, as in her preceding
books, and her frank affection for her attractive heroine will be shared
by many others."--_Boston Transcript._



Cloth 12mo, illustrated by E. Farrington Elwell. $1.50

"'The Girl from the Big Horn Country' tells how Virginia Hunter, a
bright, breezy, frank-hearted 'girl of the Golden West' comes out of the
Big Horn country of Wyoming to the old Bay State. Then things begin,
when Virginia--who feels the joyous, exhilarating call of the Big Horn
wilderness and the outdoor life--attempts to become acclimated and adopt
good old New England 'ways.'"--_Critic._


Cloth 12mo, illustrated by E. Farrington Elwell. $1.50

"This story is fascinating, alive with constantly new and fresh
interests and every reader will enjoy the novel for its freshness, its
novelty and its inspiring glimpses of life with nature."--_The Editor._



Cloth decorative, illustrated by William Van Dresser. $1.50

"High craftsmanship is the leading characteristic of this novel, which,
like all good novels, is a love story abounding in real palpitant human
interest. The most startling feature of the story is the way its author
has torn aside the curtain and revealed certain phases of the relation
between the medical profession and society."--_Dr. Charles Reed in the
Lancet Clinic._


Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color. $1.50

The author has achieved a thing unusual in developing a love story which
adheres to conventions under unconventional circumstances.

"Mrs. Backus' novel is distinguished in the first place for its
workmanship."--_Buffalo Evening News._


Cloth decorative, illustrated by William Van Dresser. $1.50

"A novel of more than usual meaning."--_Detroit Free Press._

"A stirring story of America of to-day, which will be enjoyed by young
people with the tingle of youth in their veins."--_Zion's Herald,



Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a painting by
Z. P. Nikolaki $1.50

"An atmosphere of good spirits pervades the book; the humor that now and
then flashes across the page is entirely natural, and the characters are
well individualized."--_Boston Post._

"It has all the merits of a bright, clever style with plenty of action
and humor."--_Western Trade Journal, Chicago, Ill._

SYLVIA OF THE HILL TOP: The Second Cheerful Book

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a painting by
Gene Pressler $1.50

"There is a world of human nature and neighborhood contentment and
quaint quiet humor in Margaret R. Piper's second book of good
cheer."--_Philadelphia North American._

"The bright story is told with freshness and humor, and the experiment
is one that will appeal to the imagination of all to whom the festival
of Christmas is dear."--_Boston Herald, Boston, Mass._

"Sylvia proves practically that she is a messenger of joy to
humanity."--_The Post Express, Rochester, N. Y._

SYLVIA ARDEN DECIDES: The Third Cheerful Book

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a painting by
Haskell Coffin $1.50

"It is excellently well done and unusually interesting. The incidents
follow one another in rapid succession and are kept up to the right
pitch of interest."--_N. Y. American._

"Its ease of style, its rapidity, its interest from page to page, are
admirable; and it shows that inimitable power--the storyteller's gift of
verisimilitude. Its sureness and clearness are excellent, and its
portraiture clear and pleasing."--_The Reader._

"It is an extremely well told story, made up of interesting situations
and the doings of life-like people, and you will find it very easy to
follow the fortunes of the different characters through its varied
scenes."--_Boston Herald._

Transcriber's Note: The vacuum cleaner advertisement in Chapter XXXVII
has been moved to a more appropriate location in the text, and some
trademark notation in the advertisements which could not be accurately
reproduced in this electronic format has been removed. In addition, the
following typographical errors, which were present in the original
printed edition, have been corrected for this electronic edition.

A missing quotation mark has been added after "from the coil" in the
List of Illustrations.

In Chapter VI, "$22,000,00" was changed to "$22,000.00".

In Chapter VII, "Myrick" was changed to "Myricks" in two places.

In Chapter IX, "anybody else for them,." was changed to "anybody else
for them."

In Chapter XIV, "Buy why?" was changed to "But why?"

In Chapter XI, a comma was changed to a period after "told me about

In Chapter XVIII, in the advertisements beginning "STIGLER'S SATURDAY
SPECIAL" and "At eight o'clock Monday", a period was added after "per

In Chapter XXVI, "matetr off my mind" was changed to "matter off my

In Chapter XXVII, a missing quotation mark was added after "so
thoroughly earned."

In Chapter XXXI, a missing quotation mark was added after "people get
the money" and "people pasing them" was changed to "people passing

In Chapter XXXII, "Edison domniates" was changed to "Edison dominates".

In Chapter XXXV, "Merchants' Assocation" was changed to "Merchants'

In Chapter XXXVII, "jovialty" was changed to "joviality".

In Chapter XXXVIII, "if ye sell $45,000.00 worth of goods next year" was
changed to "if ye sell $40,000.00 worth of goods next year".

In Chapter XLI, an extraneous quotation mark was deleted after "if a
fellow's got the money; but--" and "success somes" was changed to
"success comes".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dawson Black: Retail Merchant" ***

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