How not to run a business

This is about the worst possible way to build goodwill with your customer base. Click the link to read about a business owner in Columbia, Missouri who’d rather destroy excess inventory than donate it to the local Veteran’s Hospital:

My daughter is on the Rock Bridge softball team, and they try to do some community service work when possible. Today they are going to the VA Hospital for a belated Valentine’s Day visit. The coach asked that they each bring as many valentine cards as possible. This had the potential to be a bit expensive, since you can’t really take a box of 40 Power Ranger cards. . . . so on Saturday, February 16, Abby and I went out to look for cards at the Factory Card Outlet over by Sam’s Club. I thought I might be able to buy several at a reasonable price.

There was no sign indicating any discount on the Valentine card display, so I asked a clerk if they were on sale. She said they weren’t, so I explained I was buying cards to take to the VA and asked if they would make me a deal if I bought a large number. She sent me to talk to the manager. The manager laughed and told me they wouldn’t discount them.

As I was talking to him at the counter, another clerk was systematically busting already-blown-up Valentine balloons with scissors and throwing them away. So I asked if they would consider donating these balloons to the veterans instead of throwing them away. He said, “No, we have to destroy them.”

I told him that didn’t make any sense to me, since they were already blown up and they obviously weren’t going to sell them and were throwing them away. Wouldn’t it be nice to donate them to a worthy cause? He again said no, they had to destroy them.

He made some comments about bar coding, and anything leaving the store had to be bar coded out, and it was easier to bar code things that were flat and so on. Eventually he told me I could call back later and talk to the owner.

So, of course, I did. The owner was obviously primed for my call. He immediately informed me that he would much rather destroy the balloons than give them away.

I pointed out what a worthy cause giving them to the veterans who were in the hospital would be, but he said it didn’t matter, he would be destroying the balloons anyway. He didn’t make donations to anyone because if he gave these away, he would have people lined up outside the door the next day looking for donations and would “go broke.”

I tried to point out to him that I wasn’t asking for him to take something viable off of his shelf and give it to me for the benefit of the softball team — I didn’t ask him to blow up 15 balloons and give them to me — but he didn’t want to hear about it.

The owner of the Factory Card Outlet in Columbia, Missouri might as well hang a “going out of business sale” on his front door now. This is spreading through the web, and he’s going to learn pretty quickly that this was a big mistake.

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