It was a time of crisis.
The AV retailer I worked for had an inventory problem.
We were literally choking on dead stock.
The company had two stock status designations for discontinued inventory in our system.
The first, which we called “disco,” short for “discontinued” was noted in our system by the alphanumeric “D.”
That was anything that was near or at EOL, which is short for End of Life, which typically was stock up to 12 months old.
Far more ominous was the stock status for anything which was so old, 13 months or older, that it was virtually unsellable.
Its alphanumeric coding was “X.”
Naturally we just called it “X-stock.”
Disco stock wasn’t that hard to sell; there’s always someone looking for a sweet deal on last-year’s camcorder or TV.
X-stock could often be much, much harder to find a customer for.
Around the same time as we were dealing with a corporate directive to purge our D and X stock “by any means necessary” they hired a new District Manager.
He was not only a New DM, but New-To-Us.
For the first time ever, instead of promoting somebody up from the Store Manager ranks, they hired, not only from outside the company but from outside the CE channel.
Our new District Manager (I’ll call him Burt) came to us from, I kid you not, Toys R Us.
That brought a whole bunch of challenges, which I won’t get into here. But it also had advantages.
For one thing, our new DM didn’t already, like the rest of us, have a house full of AV equipment.
Burt eagerly started capitalizing on our D and X stock clearance sales. Scoring himself a sweet floor-model 55-inch CRT Rear Projection TV and an only slightly old Sony ES AV receiver.
Long story short, Burt, and his boss (who I’ll call Kyle) were on a store visit tour.
On the eve of their visit to our store, I sat down with my Assistant, Stan and asked him “What have we got that we can sell to Burt?”
We agreed on this ancient, but still fully functional Polk Audio 5.1 speaker and subwoofer package that we somehow couldn’t get rid of. We agreed that tomorrow, during the store visit we’d give Burt the Hard Sell on this Polk package.
The next day Burt and Kyle rolled into our store. After the initial greeting Kyle started to wander around and ended up in front of the clearance Polk package.
“Burt!” he yelled, “come here!”
Stan and I followed Burt over to where Kyle was standing.
Kyle pointed at the speakers, and said to Burt “You need this.”
Burt was unprepared for that. “I, um, ah…”
“You need this.” Kyle repeated. “Buy it. Buy it now!”
So I rang it up, Stan carried it out to Burt’s car, and after they left we high fived each other.