"Don," the manager said, "did you know that today is your fourth anniversary here?"
"Well, in recognition, Don, I'm going to promote you to oversee the balcony ."
"Thank you, Mr. Klepper."
"Any ideas right off?"
" Ah, good, good. Then I'm sure you'll show me when you're ready."
Seibert went up to the balcony, which had women's dresses, sportswear, and children's clothing. For years , the department had been run by two formidable women, Mrs. Hitchcock and Mrs. Hess. But almost from his first month in the store, Seibert had had ideas about improved merchandising . He had kept these to himself until given an opportunity to apply one or another. The first man and the manager had always been pleased with the results of his ideas, and now Seibert was confident that the balcony, his first major project, would bring similar success.
After walking around reviewing his thoughts, he addressed the two women during a lull. "Ladies, a moment of your time? Mr. Klepper has asked me to oversee ready-to-wear and I have some ideas that I think will make the balcony more attractive and generate more sales." He then led the ladies around the space explaining the changes. Finally, he asked for their reaction.
"Oh, Mr. Seibert, we're afraid none of that will work at all," said Mrs. Hitchcock.
"Yes, we are, Mr. Seibert," said Mrs. Hess. "Too bad, but it won't."
"I, uh, am sorry you feel that way, ladies."
"We have years of experience, Mr. Seibert," said Mrs. Hitchcock.
"Years," added Mrs. Hess.
"And I certainly respect that," Seibert said. "But I've been thinking about these for some time and I believe we should try them anyway."
"You do?" Mrs. Hitchcock said with a decided edge, looking at her partner.
"Do you?" Mrs. Hess said with a glare.
"Sorry, I'm afraid so."
That afternoon Seibert enlisted the stock boy's help and moved tables, fixtures, counters, and signage. The two women stood aside, claiming to be confused and unsure what to do. After rearranging all the merchandise, Seibert summoned the manager to inspect the new look.
"Very nice, I think. Quite nice, Don."
"Thank you, sir."
Mr. Klepper looked over at the unhappy women. "And you ladies? How do you like this arrangement?"
"Not very much," said Mrs. Hitchcock.
"Unfortunately," said Mrs. Hess, without the faintest charity in her voice.
"Yes, well," Mr. Klepper replied. "Ah, we'll just have to see how it works, now, won't we?"
It was a failure. In less than two weeks Seibert and the stock boy returned the balcony to its former appearance ”the women still standing aside, now with gloating smiles.
Later, the manager stopped Seibert downstairs and nodded at the balcony. "What do you think, Don?"
"They just weren't going to let it work."
"That's right, they weren't."
"So I'm wrong even if I'm right?"
"Yes, because you didn't include them." Then Klepper smiled and thumbed the balcony. "And just watch. They'll probably sell more now than they did before your change."
Hitchcock and Hess did set a record, and Seibert learned a valuable lesson for future reference.