Roll Over To A New Reality

vintage price gun

Back in the late 80’s, I lived in the country and I worked for Frito Lay.  One day my boss came down to see me; he was an hour drive away. Point being, he didn’t come see me, unless he had to.

He told me that I would be the sales rep for the new Walmart to be opened in my very small town. He explained the chain was going to expand nationwide, beginning in small cities in rural areas.

The idea was this would spare the local people driving to the larger city when they needed something from a department store, of sorts.  The store was to carry, everything.  They wanted to get established in each state, before building in the cities.

I was told there would be special rules for this account. My old school boss didn’t like that this decision had been made.  It was against the Frito Lay founder, Herman Lay’s tenets.  He felt big business should not be given and advantage over a mom and pop store.

My boss agreed and so did I.  It was a different era and this is why I’m taking the time to type this out.  This account was to be made a priority over every other account, as far as servicing them went.  I simply had to make them happy. I was also told they would be getting break on the cost of the product, because there was no other option. This was unprecedented for the company.

Walmart’s intent was to beat any price, anywhere local. I was literally to inform the store manager if one of my accounts had any of the products I sold, priced lower than they did.  I was not to screw this up! In fact, the store manager told me I would be held personally responsible if he heard of anyone in the area selling Frito-Lay products for a lower price. I took this to mean, I’d lose the account.

upcThis experience came up in the forum the other day when I realized there was a 12-18 month period where every really changed.  This would have been about 1988-89.

For one thing, UPC’s were introduced. Yes! Prior to this time, no one scanned anything because scanning didn’t exist. I marked the prices on the products I sold with the price gun as shown.  When we were told, UPC codes were going to be printed on everything in the world, it was impossible to fathom.

At the same time, the grocery chains began to change to a “all under one roof” model.  This meant bakeries and flower shops, coffee shops, etc. would be inside the grocery store. Again, this was radical to consider.  We had a conversation about it.

“Yuck,” I said.

“You don’t like the idea?”

“No! I’d rather run in and out. I don’t want to find a place to park and go through a whole grocery store…”

Also, at the same time, “self-check out” was to be established and in fact, this was the reason for the UPC codes.  It was going to save / make the stores a lot of money.

Last, all the stores switched from paper bags to plastic.

No one liked the plastic bags. Just a scene from the front line; I was in the breakroom of one of the big chain grocery stores; they had a plastic grocery bag, jammed full of groceries, hanging from the ceiling, for dramatic effect. You could see the weight of what the lightweight bag could hold. There was an index card attached, illustrating the fact one of these bags cost a minor fraction of one cent as opposed to the three cent, paper bag.  Point being, it was going this way, regardless of how people felt about the change. The employees were told to push the plastic.

I don’t know about a deeper meaning, but the impression I got at the time, was a decision had been made and it was all going to move in this way. Frito-Lay had to move with it.  In hindsight, it seems this change appeared “overnight”. I don’t know what else to say, but that’s some planning!

Now here I am, more than thirty years later and I see the old being mowed down and covered up in a very similar fashion. I explained this here:

Current Astro Outlook With Saturn In Pisces

I just want to tell you, based on my experience, we’re not going back.   It’s very clear to me, decisions have been made.   It’s like this:

What do you see out there?

7 thoughts on “Roll Over To A New Reality”

  1. I have worked in retail for so long now, but this is what made me quit and I know it is an old reality. It is not just the small shops it is also the small manufacturers. Everything is so dull, only huge manufacturer and the chain I have worked for has killed all competition (I am a leftist/ I know no politics/ but it is funny) . It makes me so angry that when you have the market almost all to yourself you ( the company) do not treat the customers with respect and devalue the smaller manufacturers. This was probably not the point of this blogpost, but yeah things are not going back. Also , I heard this the other day, it is quite new that the present has become tasked with “fixing” the future, and I agree, but it is unreachable to us.

  2. I had an accounting business. I was hired for a start up lighting company from Taiwan, situated in Seattle. It really was ridiculous how much they spent to try and impress people with their cheap lights – but the reason why I’m writing is because that was the first time I was introduced to Bed Bath and Beyond and Walmart as ‘customers” – it was like dealing with Nazis. You did not sell to them they told YOU WHAT SIZE PACKAGING you would be making for their stores. You had to use THEIR software – which was unheard of – and you had to pay money to be able to. And it was such arduous convoluted accounting – especially with their returns -which you would not get paid for months and any returns cost extra for there was a penalty- and in no time flat did that startup company went into arrears. They had put up millions to get established here in a very expensive highrise building downtown Seattle. Their cost of goods, plus the cost to sell to these guys left them no profit – and yes they were moving massive amounts of product, but the return on those sales barely cost the shipping cost to get them out when all the dust settled. I also worked for a startup pesticide company in the mid80’s when Monsanto hit the town with roundup – they had men in black suits with lawyers and contracts come in when we took on that product. That was my first experience of THEM telling us how, what, where we could sell their product. Again, it was an overwhelming feeling of dealing with Nazis, not Americans and I was in my mid20’s then.

  3. I figured at some point the ticket gun and UPC code would show up here. My work history forked in those years. I was part of that change from mom and pop retail to scanners being the storyteller creating the conversions from punching a cash register to scanning black on white bars.
    The seduction of faster, more profit and unknown “shareholders “ has dogged my conscience for decades.
    I stepped away from the corporate scene but never lost track of what real customer service is.
    It’s why the world of supply chain and big box has always meant I translate through old school filters and ferret out gross or minute deceit whether I speak of it, or not.
    There may not be any going back but there remains with some of us the memory of valued give and take. It’s small, easy missed if you’re expecting a large norm. To be able to live with an acoustic version of economy one must be fit for smaller return and bigger resonance.
    A price tag and cash has a translatable message, I gotta believe.

  4. What do I see? Early mornings with
    Folks crawling out of bushes and woods
    Lots of them pretty ravaged, makes feel ashamed to think I feel lonely at times
    As I have a home job and family close. Many I see look so low? I hope to start seeing the community centers ;buildings that stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer folks who have decided they could go in and cook or listen to folks I sometimes feel overworked or just pinched for time then I see folks who seem to have time and not one shred of the resemblance of home or family ,so here I go eyes wide open I try to start singing and then my incessant Hail Marys when I feel the sky come open I hope everyone else feels the same. Open up the next day here and I hope it will make you feel good just breathing .

  5. I think there are some things we are actually going to return to like more manufacturing in the US. Especially with the looming crisist of possible WWW III. For example, the covid pandemic really showed how reliant we were on other countries for products that we need to help society function (i.e. parts of cars, food, drugs, baby formula). A few years back Wal-Mart started looking to have more manufacturers for their products “Made in USA”. I think we are going to see a shift in that direction again with more manufacturing jobs back on US soil. Does that mean we are going to have a ton of jobs in manufacturing – no -What will be different is we will be able to use out advancing technology of computers and AI in the manufacturing work space.

    I think in other respects we are going to have to accept big parts of our society disintegrating into just plain ugliness from the constant stimulation of our brains to social media. We are seeing it now. Social media and devices our wrecking the mental health and imagination of people, both young and old.
    Is all lost? No. The old tried and true ways to find ourselves like meditation, reading a book, walking in nature–disconnecting from electronic devices will bring us back to ourselves. But will there be any books left, any open, unpolluted natural areas to hike in with unpolluted air, unpolluted oceans to swim in,.. the list goes on. I’m in my saturn in pisces doom and gloom today.

    I also think in some way World War might force people to unite and gain a better and more healthy perspective on living here on earth and working together rather than always against each other. I hope to god it does not come to that thought.

    1. My concern is the level of education is very low. People graduate high school, unable to read or write. It’s deliberate so what are plans for these people?

      In regards to answering that question, I don’t come up with anything good.

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