We’re ushered into the break room of yet another retail business, to learn a whole new set of policies and procedures for being an excellent employee.

Well, working at A&P didn’t quite…work out.  Apparently, I was not good at “thinking to prevent shrink.”  That’s my third job this year – mastering hot and cold drinks (as well as Grill Skills) at Wendy’s, and I followed Joan’s lead at Jewel, which didn’t really put Customers FIRST, so I…kind of got kicked out of there.

Her passive aggressive methods of delivering the best customer service didn’t do me any favors.

In actuality, I did change jobs this year, and wound up leaving (first time I ever quit a job) and going back to the job I had for almost ten years prior to that.  Two months after that, I went on furlough because, well, 2020 has been that kind of year.  I’m glad I went back to my job, and I’m glad I’ll have it when the office is ready to reopen again.

But until then, new hire videos it is!

I’ve decided that since supermarkets and fast food haven’t quite worked out, I’m going to go with a different kind of retail…the kind with better values.

And no food service.

The Department Store With Better Values

Is there such a department store?

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Yes, and let’s just say it “Ames” for those better values, and bargains by the bagful!

That wasn’t a typo, that is the name of the store!

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Ames Department Stores Inc. was a retail chain based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, founded in 1958, and at its peak, operating 700 stores in twenty states in the Northeast, Midwest, Upper South, and Washington D.C.  The fourth largest retailer in the country, Ames was a discount-type retailer, specializing in the kinds of things that fellow stores Bradlees, Target, Kmart, and Caldor (and even Wal-Mart) sold.  While Bradlees and Caldor were the Target of the East Coast (inevitably falling to that competitor as it moved closer to the East Coast), Ames had more of a “Kmart meets Wal-Mart” vibe.  All three of those stores (and at one point, Zayre) worked hard to get your discount dollars, and unfortunately, all of them met their demise around the same time – Caldor in 1999, Bradlees in 2001, and Ames in September 2002.

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You all know what is happening with Kmart, though the 2000s weren’t kind to that chain either.

I knew Ames existed – saw commercials for it regularly alongside ones for Bradlees, Caldor, and Kmart – but never actually shopped there.  The closest one was about 40 minutes away, compared with the mall, which was about 20 minutes closer to where I grew up.

Ames Has Training Videos!

Videos of Ames have been a staple of the respectable defunct department store new hire training video diet since the very beginning of YouTube.  There are two different sets – the Asset Protection Awareness set, which is six parts of the training process (from 1996), and the associate training video (from 2000), all uploaded by YouTube user Chris Fontaine from Ames Fan Club.  I tried to share the link, but my virus protection keeps holding me back from getting to the site, so methinks it isn’t safe.

No worries, apparently there is a fan club that exists.

Anyway, we’re looking at the 1996 videos, because they not only depict a department store with better values, it also depicts a department store of the mid 1990s…but feels like it was filmed before then.

The six parts of the training cover – in order – introduction and overview, fitting rooms (that one is interesting), safety, safe lifting, hazard awareness, and bloodborne pathogens.

It Starts Off Harmless Enough…

In part one, new hires are introduced to Ames, and the various ways that loss, or “shrink” (there’s that word from our A&P training!) happens at Ames.  There’s switch ticketing, shoplifting, internal theft, broken and damaged items, “flim flam,” and robbers that are terrible at robbing.

Spoiler alert: Ames said to give them the money, since it is replaceable, and you aren’t.

After trainees are given an overview of the Asset Protection Policies, we move on to part two through six, which focus on the actual policies in depth.

Part two focuses on fitting rooms, and as I said, that’s where things get interesting…

Two words: Rapping “Grandma.”

Asset Protection Training goes totally off the rails in part two, with a music video-style training lesson on handling the fitting room.  Reminding staff of keeping customers to six items or less in the fitting rooms has never gotten easier to forget!

That wasn’t a typo – you’ll remember the policy, but you won’t forget how you learned said policy!

In part three, safety awareness is the name of the game.  No Rapping Grandma or music video-style attempts at catering to younger new hires (sorry, folks!), just good old-fashioned policy.  There are two types of safety issues – Unsafe Conditions and Unsafe Acts.  The information is pretty standard – there’s conditions that are created by the environment and situation, and there are the kind of not safe moments created by action.  The video also details proper store evacuation and how to prepare for one.

I love the customers’ reactions to evacuating.  No complaining, just bad acting and hurrying along.

In part four, safe lifting procedures are explained. It describes the standard retail store stuff – how to move displays, how to use dolly carts, the proper way to lift objects, carry objects, and how a back injury could happen.

While giving us the longest shot of a guy’s butt in black jeans.

Don’t forget to tuck your Ames store circular in the back pocket of said jeans!

In part five, we look at hazard awareness.  Safe use of products deemed hazardous (for example, cleaning chemicals), Material Safety Data Sheets, reading instructions for use, non-routine tasks and appropriate training for those tasks, and a hotline for information on all chemical-based products sold at Ames.

Translation: things not to do with chemicals!

Don’t splash it in your eyes, pour it on your skin, deeply breathe in the vapors, or drink it all up.  Do any of this, and well, you’re not Ames material!

And finally…

Part six wraps up our training in a nice little bow of bloodborne pathogens.  Yeah, I know, totally gross, but absolutely necessary to discuss.  Proper cleanup of potentially dangerous pathogens is discussed, as well as how to dispose of them.  Proper glove removal is a must!

And always, always, ALWAYS…

This!

And stay tuned at the end of part six for a special welcome message from…

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It’s A Tough Job, But…You Know.

It is a whole lot to learn, but it is broken down into parts and ensures that we are going to be the best Ames Asset Protectors there could ever be!

Uploads via Chris Fontaine

I really think we’re going to do great selling the Ames Way, and maintaining those “better values” their commercials boast!

And if that doesn’t work out…well, I’m sure there’s other places we can work, with training videos we’ll have to watch.

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