One of the collections in the Internet Archive that I find interesting is the Canadian Trade Journals Collection. This collection of Canadian Trade Journals and Catalogs was provided by the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Toronto Public Library and contains catalogs full of beautiful illustrations and advertisements from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Highlights of the collection include Canadian Grocer, Canadian Jeweler, Dry Goods Review, Farmer’s Magazine, and Hardware and Metal Merchandising.
Most of the publications are a combination of news and research items interlaced with Business-to-Business advertisements.
Dry Goods Ads
These suggested rules for dry good store’s front of house staff is from the Canadian Dry Goods Review from 1900.
REGULATIONS FOR STORE MANAGEMENT
- Wait on children as politely as you do on grown people. They are our future customers.
- Salesmen, when disengaged, will take position near the front door, instead of the back. Customers do not come in at the rear.
- Don’t stand outside the front door when at leisure. It is an excellent notice to competitors and customers that trade is dull.
- Salesmen are paid for waiting on customers, and are not expected to turn them over to the boys or new men who are learning the business, while they busy themselves arranging or putting away goods.
- Don’t take a customer away from another salesman until he is through with him.
- Don’t turn a customer over to another clerk, if possible to avoid it, except for the dinner hour.
- Go for business in every direction; in the store or out of it; wherever you see a chance to make a sale, work for it with all your might. RUSTLE!
- Salesmen will sell at marked prices. Do not go to office for a cut price. It always makes trouble.
- At retail the dozen price is to be allowed only when the customer takes half a dozen of each kind, or more. Less than half-dozen, in all cases, to be at price for each.
- Sorting up a line of goods allowed to make the quantity, the highest dozen price of the lot to be charged, when half a dozen or more are bought.
- Clerks or other dealers are to be charged regular retail prices. If the houses they work for buy the goods for them it is a different matter.
- Don’t send a customer up stairs or down by himself.
- Salesmen will avoid the responsibility of trusting customers whose credit is unknown to them by referring all such cases to the manager. Extending credit without authority makes the salesmen responsible for the amount.
- In opening a new account get the business and post office address of the customer correctly.
- Never show a price-list to a customer; it confuses him.
- Salesmen are expected to sell the goods we have, not the goods we have not.
- Salesmen are responsible for their mistakes and any expense attending their correction.
- Always charge goods first in the day books. Make out the bill from the charge in the book. Make this an invariable rule.
- If you have a charge to make, enter it before waiting on another customer; your memory is apt to be defective and the sale forgotten before it is entered.
- All cash bills over $5 enter in your sales book.
- Make your charges accurate in detail or description by number, size, etc. By so doing, it facilitates correction, in case of a dispute with the customer.
- Close your entry books after making entry. Valuable information may be gained by competitors.
- Clerks receiving change from the desk will count the same and see if correct before handing to the customer. Always hand the cash memorandum with the money to the cashier.
- If you know of an improvement of any kind, suggest it at once to the manager; it will be impartially considered.
- Keep retail stock full and complete on the shelves, so as to avoid detaining customer. Notify each man in charge of a division when you find anything short in it.
- Always put the stock in order when through waiting on customers.
- Each clerk is expected to see that his department is kept clean and in perfect order.
- In arranging goods, put the smallest to the front; when the same size, cheapest to the front.
- Use the early part of the day and the last hour before closing in sorting and straightening up.
- Prices are not to be cut. Report every cut price by other firms to the manager after the customer is gone, unless he is a well-known and regular customer, in which case report at once.
- Do not smoke during business hours, in or about the store.
- Employees are requested to wear their coats in the store. It is not pleasant for a lady to have a gentleman waiting on her in his shirt sleeves, or with his hat on.
- Employees are expected to be on hand promptly at the hour of opening.
- Employees will remain until the hour of closing, unless excused by the manager.
- The company will ask of you as little work after regular hours as possible. When demanded by the necessities of business, a willing and hearty response will be appreciated.
- If an employee desires to buy anything from stock, he must buy it of the manager; in no case take anything without doing so.
- In purchasing for individual use around town, under no circumstances use the name of the company as a means to buy cheaper.
- Employees pay for whatever they damage; they are placed on their honor to report and pay for it.
- Employees using bicycles will keep them in the cellar or in the back yard; they must not be left where they will cause inconvenience.
- Conversation with the bookkeeper, or the cashier, except on business, interferes materially with the work. Do not forget this.
- Watch the ends of stock, make as few as possible, and always work them off first, to keep the stock clean.
- Keep mum about our business. Always have a good word to say for it, and never say it is dull. Keep your eyes and ears open about your competitors.
Source: Dry Goods Review 1900