The Texas Miner, Volume 1, Number 9, March 17, 1894 Page: 4
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THE TEXAS MINER.
A great many mercantile houses have all their profits taken up
by not watching the expenses closely enough. A dry goods
merchant may say: "I do not see why it is that I do not make
money; I sell plenty of goods, and I make a fair profit on every-
thing that I sell, and still at the end of the year my books show
that I have come out at the little end of the horn.' Undoubt-
edly this is because the small expenses are greater than the busi-
ness will allow. There are so many different things in a dry
goods store that need careful watching, that the dry goods man
must be constantly on the alert, and constantly eager to do
away with all unnecessary expenses.
It is the little expenses that count so much in the long run.
You may think: "This amounts to only a few dollars, and while
possibly I could get along without it, the little amount which it
costs will not cut any figure." Yet, when all these little things
are taken into consideration they will be found to more than
overtop all the profits which you can make by selling thousands
of dollars' worth of goods. Dry goods merchants, as a rule, are
entirely too c.areless about their expenses. They are eager
enough to buy at the lowest possible price, and to sell at as
good price as they can possibly get, not remembering that these
two points are only a part of their business, and that neither of
them is of any avail if they allow their running expenses to re
main so great that all the profit is consumed.
person who devotes his entire time to displaying goods, ask all
your employes to make suggestions as to how to display certain
lines. From among the number of suggestions made you may
select one or two that will be very fine. However this may be,
getting your employes to suggest things to you will often enlarge
your own ideas, even though they may not suggest anything
which it would be profitable to take hold of. Sometimes a sug-
gestion, even if it is a bad one, may bring up in your mind its
opposite, which may be just the thing you are looking for.
LEARNING LESSONS FROM YOUR EMPLOYES.
A great many merchants make a mistake by holding them-
selves too much aloof from their employes They might learn
many lessons in business economy if they would cultivate a spirit
of friendliness between themselves and those under them. By a
spirit of friendliness we do not mean a spirit of familiarity; but
let your employes know that you do not expect them to fear you,
and that in the business you are always glad to have their opin-
ions or suggestions as to what can be profitably done under any
special circumstances. In a large dry goods store there is
necessarily a large amount of latent talent which could be
brought out very easily for the great benefit of the store.
You nave under you possibly a number of bright young per-
sons who could make many profitable suggestions regarding the
little things which are continually coming up in a store. The
clerks come in contact with the customers to a larger extent than
the proprietor possibly could. They hear all the complaints that
are made,and they see how the different kinds of goods take with
the people. It would be well if you could get your employes so
interested in your business that they feel disposed to criticise
any move which is made in the store, either to point out the
good features in it or to show where it is an evil.
Some of the the best merchants in the country are now adopt-
ing a plan of requesting all their employes to think up points
which would be for the benefit of the store. Some of them of-
fer a prize to the persons in their house, to be paid to the one
who will make the best suggestion as to how to make the store
In all special branches of the business , the latent talent of the
employes could be developed to great advantage. If there is no
particular person employed to do the advertising, it might be
well if you interested the clerks in your store in this line, request-
ing any of them who may think they see a good adverisement
for any particular line, to call it to your attention. It may be
that while none of your clerks are capable of writing advertise-
ments as a rule, still there is hardly any of them that could not
under certain circumstances, write at least one fairly good ad-
vertisement. If you could get one good advertisement out of
each person in your employ, it would make quite a nice little
batch for use.
The same way in window dressing. If you have no particular
Some years ago the tendency of all retail business was to sep-
erate itself into distinct parts—that is, the shoe business was con-
ducted by one man, the cloak business by another, the dry goods
business by another, etc. Now the tendency is directly the op-
posite that of concentration; all kinds of goods being brought
together under one head and under one management. The shoe
business, the cloak business, the dress goods business and all the
other lines which can go together are kept under one root.
In order to conduct so many businesses under one head, it is
necessary that great care should be taken in organizing the dif-
ferent departments. If the whole were considered as one stock,
it would in all probability be very unprofitable, as one portion of
the stock carried might be sold at a loss, and another portion
of the goods might be making a profit, and thus the result would
be unsatisfactory unless there was some way of determining
which lines of goods was making a success, and allowing that to
continue in the same path that it had been going, while the un-
profitable line could be changed about and placed upon a pav-
For this purpose, in nearly all large houses, while all the dif-
ferent styles of goods are sold under one roof, still they are re-
garded as if they were seperate stores. Each has its manager
and clerks, who are regularly detailed to wait on the department's
customers; each is carried on the books as if it were a seperate
affair from any other portion of the house. The principle of sep-
erating these stocks, allowing each to stand on its own base and
cutting off the unprofitable one, is.really laid down in the Bible,
and if I were going to preach a sermon on the subject I would
quote from the 5th chapter of Matthew, 29th verse, which says:
"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it irom
thee; for it is more profitable for thee that one of thy members
should perish, than that thy whole body should be cast into hell.''
The body is strung together with nerves, so that each portion is
really the same as if it were a seperate organization. You have
no difficulty in discerning at once whether it is your hand or your
feet that pains you, and it should be the same way in a large de-
The books should be so kept and in such a manner that you
could tell to the cent just what the profits were on each kind of
goods. If the shoes are found to be losing money you must
either make such changes as will put that department on a profit-
able basis, or drop it. It will be very bad, indeed, for a dry
goods business that so loosely conducts its affairs that it is im-
possible to tell where and what the trouble is in regard to the
success of the business.
Another advantage which comes from having a department
a distinct store to itself, is that each can be placed in charge of
some one person competent to handle it, and that person can
get credit for his work. If a man has charge of the cloak stock,
and at the end of the season you find that the department has
not paid, you will know that there has been mismanagement
which has caused the trouble.
There is possibly only one drawback to department organiza-
tion, and that is that a separate force of clerks will be necessary
to attend to each stock. It is then impossible to any great
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McAdams, Walter B. The Texas Miner, Volume 1, Number 9, March 17, 1894, newspaper, January 27, 1894; Thurber, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth200456/m1/4/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Tarleton State University.