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Unknown Parts Counter Guy: Why The Feng Shui Of A Parts Store Is Enough To Make A Man Drink…Heavily

Unknown Parts Counter Guy: Why The Feng Shui Of A Parts Store Is Enough To Make A Man Drink…Heavily

It doesn’t matter which one of the parts stores you walk into, because they are all the same: Sorted, in a selected pattern that is meant to catch those buying trinkets and air fresheners early and to make the ones who buy the expensive shit like batteries and oil walk through the shiny baubles and pina colada-scented pine trees. Most look appealing enough (except, in my opinion, NAPA’s. I keep thinking I’m in an automotive dungeon whenever I’m in one. But I digress…)

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get all of those shelves sorted into neat, organized layouts? Well, wonder no more, because Parts Guy is here to inform and entertain!

(not really, kids. I’m just here for the free booze Lohnes provides me so I’ll stay funny instead of being an angry asshole on this one.)

Once upon a time…

In a magical building that we all call Corporate, in the land of Far, Far Away resides some witches. I don’t know if they are good or evil, and I don’t know if they look like Glenda the Good Witch on Friday night or look like Princess Fiona post-change without her makeup in the morning, but I can assure you that they have it out for yours truly. Anyways, the witches are in charge of planning the layout of the store, down to the finest detail: Where each little hook is hung, where each little part is placed, and how each little shelf should look so that you, the endearing consumer, will not only buy, but will return to buy more. Once they have a layout in place, they use a magical device (which oddly looks like an eight-year-old Dell laptop) to email Store Manager pictures and instructions, along with all of the new pricetags, printed in order, so that all of the minions of the Parts Store can rearrange the shelves in a swift manner, so that all is right in the Kingdom of Gearhead.

And they lived happily ever after! …right? WRONG. So. Effing. Wrong.

Depending on the section of shelving, these processes can be simple or an outright pain in the ass. And right now, our store is in the full swing of rearrangement. I’ve done a couple by myself, and they are simple enough, so I thought. Store Manager decided that Idiot Child should take the newest hire and between the two, they could reset four large sections of small parts…trim clips, vacuum hoses, fuel line clips, etc. Hundreds of little boxes, four sections, one entire day…how could this go wrong?

They started by stripping the hooks bare and throwing all of these parts into two shopping carts. They started this task by turning four sections of organized parts into two rolling clusterf***s. Once I saw what had happened I had to walk outside, where Warehouse Guy was having a cigarette, just so I could yell like R. Lee Ermey during the first half of Full Metal Jacket without disturbing the customers in the store. In seven hours, they had managed to get all of the price tags up (remember, they are pre-printed, in correct order, on perforated paper…) and about twenty items hung up (out of about six hundred.) None of the shelves had been moved to the correct places, and they had managed to mix up the sheets of price tags, so badly in fact that I stripped the shelves bare again and spent all day the next day re-doing EVERY DAMN THING THEY TOUCHED.

Idiot Child showed up that morning I undertook the project, one hour after I did, holding a box of donuts, in full disbelief that someone had undone his masterpiece from the day prior. When he asked why it was stripped, I coolly replied that it was messed up. He then shook his head and proceeded to spend the rest of the day muttering about how Corporate screwed the pooch and how it couldn’t possibly be his fault, all the while avoiding the aisle while I’m folding cards and shifting hooks. As of writing, I’m so far behind on this quagmire that if Corporate was to magically appear at my store, the end result would look like sentencing day at the Salem Witch Trials, and I’ll be Giles Corey, gasping out “More weight”.

I think the Jack Daniel’s Distillery is going to send me a Christmas card this year, thanking me for my patronage.

Picture 16



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10 thoughts on “Unknown Parts Counter Guy: Why The Feng Shui Of A Parts Store Is Enough To Make A Man Drink…Heavily

  1. tigeraid

    Ahhhhh, Corporate. The universal language of confusion and ineptitude.

    We had a nice layout to our current store. A bit stingy, sometimes with large swathes of the store having no price tags. But there was a logical flow to it, and it was nice and wide open.

    Then corporate showed up. With the incredibly old, clunky Dell laptop, yup. And pages and pages of Plan-o-grams!

    And they took this nice, open concept, and turned it into something you’d expect from 1960… four completely straight rows of shelving, each nearly as tall as a man, crammed absolutely full of product. We went from looking like an auto parts store to a tiny Wal-mart.

    On the plus side, we have lots of nice price tagging now (which needs to be re-tagged once a month, and each counterman does absolutely everything in his power to pawn that job off on someone else)…

    On the downside we have tons of useless or repetitive products we’ll never, ever move. Why do we have NINE different types of bottle jacks, but no power drills!?

    Worse still, the open concept was easy to spot shoplifters in. Now customers disappear down the isles for hours at a time, never to be seen again.

    All because a bean-counter at Corporate needed to prove his job should exist.

    1. Parts Guy

      Planogram. That word is enough to raise my blood pressure tach out like an LF-A. I’ll admit that the Corporate I deal with at least tries to make it painless, with pictures, pre-printed tags and all. But that’s like getting a bottle of rum to yourself before they hacksaw your leg off…barely a mercy gesture.

  2. Scott Liggett

    I have to agree that most of the chain stores are bright, cheery and full of colorful doo-dads that don’t fix a broken car. The real parts to fix cars, with the exception of filters and fluids, are on hidden shelves behind the counter monkey positions.

    Napa still tries to look like a parts store that cater to repair shops. Mechanics that want to fix a customer car, not comtemplate buying a cheap mini bike or wander through the 813 different scents available in air fresheners.

    1. Scott Liggett

      Yes, of course, the Corporates want you to use their shelf patterns and parts arrangement plans. They payed big money to some marketing/buyer psych/ feng shui/ BS company who said they spent years getting into the psychy of a parts wanting shopper to get them to impulse buy.

      These are same companies that tell grocery stores to be sure to put Capn Crunch cereal eye level to a 7 year old so they will have a full blown meltdown if Mom won’t buy it for them.

  3. TheSilverBuick

    Haha, the dreaded “Plan-o-gram”, LMAO, I forgot that’s what they were called. Yes, I questioned every crap item in the store. Looks like in this shipment we got soccer and footballs. WTF are we, Walmart? Net result was a broken sign in aisle 4 from two idiot employee’s playing foot ball after hours when they were supposed to be stocking shelves.

  4. Whelk

    Once you and the regular customers know where everything is, it’ll be time to reorganize everything.

  5. Tedly

    Thank you for reminding me why I got away from retail, Parts Guy. And as an escaped counter monkey myself, I can only say: RUN! Run while there is still some shred of your soul intact!

  6. Retailguy

    While I do not know what it’s like working in a parts store, I do know what it’s like working in the retail business and having corporate wanting to make your life a living hell every chance they get. The way they tell you to do stuff just for the customers would lead you to believe that customers are brain-dead idiots, but after dealing with a few you learn that they’re not so far off. Great article!

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