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Terminal Discounting

So my friend works at a women's clothing and home-furnishing chain. It's a nice shop, the kind of place with lots of oddly-shaped carafes and ornate quasi-foreign/antique-looking furniture. And racks of $90 t-shirts.

Anyway, the store has a thing about its Brand, see? The Brand - anchored by its premium price points - must be protected. Sure, the $90 Ts sometimes find their way to the sale rack. Ditto for the carafes and furniture. And yes, the crummiest things eventually go on clearance for a significant discount. But when the orphans don't sell, the brand is faced with a dilemma. What does it do? Take a guess...

A) They're carried out to the dumpster
B) They're picked-up and redistributed to the company's low-end brand
C) They're donated to local charities
D) They're returned to the original manufacturer for a partial refund

Answer after the jump...

Sorry, I kind of lead you into a blind alley, there. The actual answer is that employees are instructed to destroy the goods. Putting them in the dumpster in one piece is no good — with stores all over the country, the chain would find itself fending off a loyal sub-customer base of dumpster divers. And the Brand can't afford to have people walking around with free stuff (hence donating it won't fly, either; people won't keep buying $90 t-shirts if they show up at the Salvation Army a couple months later.) So the stuff gets destroyed *before* it's thrown out. Most of the time, right there in the store. In front of the customers. (Gotta make room for new goods, after all.)

Now, the word from the managers is "destroy it, we don't care how." Understandably, these conditions give rise to a little game called Who Can Think Up The Most Outrageous Way To Break This? Stacks of picture frames meet their fate one by one, crushed under a high heel. That (admitedly ugly) floor-length mirror with the carved-wood African frame? Hammer time! The wretched deco desk that was supposed to sell like mad, but didn't? Drop it from the second floor!

My friend has played the game, too. Grabbing a large bag and winking at her coworkers, she walked out to the floor, set the bag in front of a display of unfortunate martini glasses, and proceeded to drop them, individually, from chest height. It wasn't the customers' horrified looks that kept her from ever playing again (she said smiling at them glibly was actually kind of fun)... it was the waste. The sound of shattering glass broke her heart.

Destroying the stuff is bad enough, but why does the company allow it to happen right there in the stores? I have no clue. (I do know it's a national policy - my friend has worked in locations from coast to coast). Hell, breaking goods in front of customers most likely hurts the Brand more than any amount of dumpster diving. Anybody want to take a stab at rationalizing this policy?

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