Category Archives: Barn

Counting Sheep

Today was a glorious day at the Barn. The Barn was closed for its annual inventory. I realized how truly addicted the people of Huntsville are to the Barn and its associates. We had Cameron Drape calling for her hydrangeas she couldn’t live without any longer. True, they have been on hold for three weeks, but she had to have them the day we were closed for counting. Magnolia Garland answered the phone very politely. The guest on the phone was a bag handle!! Magnolia told her we were closed and could not help her with her phone order.  The guest barked back with, “Why did you answer the phone if you couldn’t help me?” Grumpy ole bag handle are like that, that is why they are bag handles!

The mall guests would stop by the Barn doors, press their noses up against the doors in hopes to just sniff the scent of potpourri and pillow inserts. While glued to the window, the guests would reach for their cell phones and call the Barn to ask why we were closed, all while staring at the inventory closure notice posted on the Barnyard door. Everything is urgent on the only shopping day we are closed during the year!!!

Wait, I don’t think I got to the point of my post! I haven’t told you why it was a wonderful day inside the Barn! I got to count sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens all day long. When there was a stable or pasture that was difficult to count or needed someone “thorough” they asked me and Josephine Bedding to help out. OK, that is what they told us, but I believe the Barn gods where punishing me for my blog! Or, if you don’t suck at your job you get the sucky jobs! Either theory works for why I got the crap job, but I loved each minute of the day! I especially loved it when my scanner would say “Hoorah, Your Count is in Balance!!!” By the end of the day it should have said, “Hot Damn! You Get a Cookie!”

Ok, maybe my humor is getting a little off! The point is, each year I love inventory a little more than the year before. You may think I am crazy, but I love going to work one day out of the year and counting sheep! You know you can do it in your sleep and that is the point of the day for me. I get to go to work in my grubby clothes and Sambas, eat snacks and laugh a lot. I don’t have to call a mom or dad to tell them their son or daughter has misbehaved at camp or fire a staff member for inappropriate conduct at work. I can just count sheep! Thanks Manhattan, Hudson, Heather Chenille, and the head farmer for letting me work at the Barn! I love the Barn!

The Tide Outside

Note: Please understand that the images depicted in this blog of redneck Alabama fans are only of those who are on the outer fringe, over the top, houndstooth clad, bandwagon followers; not the truly dedicated, highly intelligent fan base who visited with me at the Barn today. Please read this for the humor we all saw today! The point I am trying to make is this isn’t all Alabama fans, heck I married an Alabama Alumnus!

Today, while I was at the Barn, there was definitely more craziness out in the pasture than inside the corral. Walking through the parking lot I saw dozens and dozens of Crimson Tide fans. They were making their way into the mall to stand in line for an autograph by Mount Cody! For those who don’t live in Alabama or don’t know anything about college football in the south, Mount Cody’s real name is Terrence Cody, number 62 on the BCS Title winning University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa football team.  He helped the Tide beat Lame Kiffin’s Vols in October to keep his team undefeated.

So he was there signing autographs. I have never felt like I worked in a real Barn until today. Other than the county fair, I didn’t know there could be more mullets, rat tails, and bearded women in one location. I have waited in line at a Jack Daniel’s bottle signings for a few hours in my time. The difference is I get to met people from all over the United States. Today, it was really just a family reunion. Most everyone there were cousins! Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, because there were a few baby strollers in the crowd. To my knowledge Alabama hasn’t legalized marrying your cousin just yet.

The first person in line arrived at three in the morning. He was there with iPod and his encyclopedia of Alabama football lore. He had plenty to keep him busy. When I arrived at 11:30 am, the line stretched to the escalators near Belk’s. When I went on break at 2:30 pm, the line was at the Cookie Company near Dillard’s. The line went from the escalator at Dillard’s to Belk’s wrapping around to the DMV and then back to Dillard’s and down that hallway.  At three o’clock in the afternoon they cut the line in half by telling everyone who hadn’t made it to Gymboree to go home – bye-bye, go home! When I left the Barn at 7 pm the last person in line had been waiting since 2:15 pm. She just so happened to be one of my favorite Christmas shoppers at the Barn!

Wow, all of this for a college football player. A senior consumer science major who blocked two field goal attempts against Tennessee. Not Mark Ingram, the Heisman trophy winner. Not the Pope or even the President of the United States of America. All these fanatical Alabama fans were standing in line for six to eight hours for Mount Cody to write his name on a photo, helmet, or football. Heck, he probably wrote more today than he has ever taken notes in class. He is just a guy, not the Lord All Mighty. True the crowd didn’t number five thousand and Sbarro’s was still open, so we didn’t need a miracle. However, he couldn’t perform one even if we did need some food. It was just a crazy day at the mall!

To top all the craziness on the outside we had all our favorite loons visit inside the Barn! Cameron Drape had to pay a visit to purchase things that she will return next Thursday. I don’t care how much she loves the bird plates. Once she gets those precious birds home she will want to visit us again. Cameron’s crazy red-headed kindred spirit walked in proclaiming she “wasn’t one of those D*&% Alabama Fans” I knew this would be an eventful transaction. She wanted something like vase fillers, but not fruit or candles. She wanted something that she wouldn’t knock over. I was left to think she was a blousy drunk; someone that Josh Groban would like. If you don’t get that comment, please start watching Glee, Golden Globe winning Glee. She didn’t want to give me her address, because she lives in a cardboard box.

To top it all off my table cloth lady finally returned! Well she didn’t, but her really confused husband with her receipt and minus the debit card stood steadfast cursing all Alabama fans and proclaiming War D&^% Eagle! It was a calamity! He wanted to return the table cloth that I had sold in early December after an hour of deliberation. Is it too large, it is the correct color, or will my daughter like this table cloth? Magnolia Garland was helping Mr. Auburn. He didn’t really comprehend what we were saying. He felt that we wanted to just say no to his return. This blog has gone too long, but trust me when I say it was a wild day inside and outside of the Barn.

I was thankful to work today and enjoy the carnival like atmosphere with my Barnyard friends! Manhattan, Magnolia, and all the others! The fun of working the Barn is 1 part customers, 1 part product and 1,000 parts associates! Manhattan said it best when we all had headaches from the ruckus outside, we had seen someone try to sell his place in line for $70, and all of our most special guests visited. “I am glad I could share this day with you!” This is true; if Hudson had been working we would have had to call HEMSI after his brain hemorrhaged. God bless the Barn!

Top 10 Ways to Be Annoying at Christmas

Everyone loves lists. Since 1985, David Lettermen has regularly given a top ten list. People also love Casey Kasem’s Top 40. I loved it when my mother gave me a list to go grocery shopping. Well, this blog entry will stand as my Barn year in review as I list the ten things you shouldn’t visit the Barn for during the holidays. All these have actually happened and the workers have the scars to prove it.

10.  Making out on a Pearce Sectional.

9.  Opening a Bridal Registry on Black Friday… or the weekend before Christmas.

8.  Returning merchandise purchased after closing… anytime, but especially returning merchandise on Black Friday purchased after closing the night before Thanksgiving.

7.  Lounging with your BFF on a Barn bed while Hudson is standing in the room.

6.  After weeks of being sold out and still having CO-OP call us for a Sleigh Bell pillow by asking for just one “Golf Delta” bell pillow (Golf Delta is code for cursing… remember this is a PG blog!).

5.  This one is complex… Calling the Barn to ask for the contents of boxes which were delivered to your lake house when your wife is at the lake house but won’t open the boxes or bring them inside out of the rain.  [Editor’s note: Really?!]

4.  Taking a running leap on to a bed during rush hour the weekend before Christmas.

3.  Asking Barn management to play more Christmas music than necessary… I am talking about you Faux Snow, but I still love you!

2.  Simply being Cameron Drape with Turkey Plates in tow, Cowbell, Bella Beer Mug, Baja Glassware, Napoleon, or my darling Denim Divas will get you kicked out without much fuss.

1.  People who get mad, pitching a fit, throwing hands up in the air angry that we are sold out of merchandise the week before Christmas. Two things for these people, first if we had the product we would sell it to them. Secondly, if they wanted to shop in a Barn that has lots of merchandise, live in Atlanta, Houston, New York or San Fran, not Huntsville. [Editor: Amazing how Christmas always sneaks up on you]

This has been a great year for me at the Barn. I have enjoyed every single minute of work, if you can call it work! Hudson, Manhattan, Heather Chenille, and the head farmer make the Barn a great place. I wish everyone inside and outside the Barn a very Merry Christmas! And I will leave you with this sentiment: don’t leave your “Barn door” open!!

Barnyard Surprises

My blog was never intended to be a blog about my second job at the Bucket Barn. However, I have found great joy in sharing all the wonderful stories from the retail world on the world wide web. I enjoy finding creative names to protect the innocent Barnyard animals that mill around the pasture that is the mall. People I work with have referred to me as the chick that has the Bucket Barn blog. My blog is about everything and nothing all dyslexically mixed together. So tonight when Faux Snow proclaimed “I feel a blog in the making” to describe the night we had just finished, I knew my next blog would be focused on all the livestock that visited! It was a crazy night!

In the middle of several crazy phone callers, Baja Glassware came in the Barn. Baja is one of those men you would think would never walk into a Barn. He emulates the personality and manners of Dirty Harry. Judging by his military tour jacket he is more like Gunny Highway. His favorite Barnyard friend is Manhattan but he still gives her crap on a regular basis. Please don’t get me wrong, Baja is a loyal lover of the Barn who brings us lots of business, but when he swaggers into the Barn his motto is “Go ahead, make my day, I need to buy slipcovers for my sofa!”

Tonight when he came in asking for inserts to his couch this was something none of us knew how to do off the top of our heads, and Manhattan was no where around. Hudson saved the day by helping Baja. Baja always wants some deal, or great find. He has practically worn out his Barn credit card, which was also carved out of stone sometime after the Ten Commandments.

It was a smashing night at the Barn. During all the craziness Hudson broke a glass shelf in the back room. He proclaimed, “If I could just package up all these ten million pieces I could sell them as glitter, gems, or vase fillers!” It was a mess. I was wrapping wedding gifts, four to be exact, for a lady who didn’t want us to pull the numbers off the online Barn bridal registry. “I want it to be a surprise,” she said. If she wanted it to be a surprise then don’t get something off the bridal registry. The bride and groom pick out all that stuff. Faux Snow was holding down the fort outside in the Barnyard, lots of guests and lots of phone calls.

At Christmas time you get lots of phone calls on top of the hundreds of guest each week. I had several strange and odd ones tonight. One lady called asking about the cost of shipping for products we had in the Barn. Come to find out she really wanted to know for her mother-in-law because it was her gift. Really, you are going to call about shipping on your own gift? True, it was from her mother-in-law and I am sure she was avoiding fuzzy slippers, socks, bad jewelry, or a heart shaped bookmark. The call was very complicated in nature with measurements and colors involved. I wanted to call mother-in-law to teach her the joy of “Gift Cards!”

I had another caller who thought the Barn was Old Time Bucket! I am getting to the point where I know the tone in someone’s voice when they are looking for the Old Time Bucket. I had a needy Barn patron who wanted to return a rug she bought yesterday over the phone so she could use a coupon. The same needy guest wanted a tracking number on the same rug. Finally, she tried to haggle over the rug price once more thinking I would change my answer. I hated saying no, but obstinate shoppers make it easy.

However, the best phone call of the night had to be from the lady who wanted to know how long Santa would be at the mall. I chuckled at first and told her that he would be leaving before Christmas Eve for his journey around the world delivering presents. She really wanted to know Santa’s hours for the night, in other words, when he would be closing up shop for the evening. We answer the phone, “Happy Holidays thank you for calling the Barn…” not “Thank you for calling Santa’s Photorama.” When I told the guest I didn’t know Santa’s hours she explained that the mall office didn’t know either. The only interaction the Barn has with Santa is all the thousands of kids needing to go to the potty while waiting in line. The caller asked if I would venture outside the Barn to ask for her.

The greatest thing of the night was the BFFs shopping at the end of the evening. Hudson, Faux Snow and I were trying to put the store back together. If only we had the help of “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” we might have been able to avoid the tsunami. Hudson was painstakingly tucking the sheets, comforters, and bedding. I was folding towels. As soon as Hudson was done straightening the Barn bedding, in walks three ladies, the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first thing they destroyed was the bed Hudson completed seconds earlier. Then they moved on to lounging in the second bed. It was as if they were in their own homes enjoying a day off. All the work Hudson had completed was trashed.

The apocalyptic destruction carried on for what seemed like an eternity. I would try helping the ladies, by asking questions about their homes’ decor. They ignored me only to shout more question at me but didn’t have time for my answers. “What is the difference between 300 and 400 thread count in sheets?” “What is a duvet?” “Can I get this in another color?” Finally all the questions stopped and it was time for check out. The leader of the pack pulled out her deck of 52 credit cards, spread them out as if she was showing me a card trick, and proceeded to pay. We had survived the night and remained calm.

Some shoppers find joy at sucking the joy out of retail, which made for one heck of a crazy night. I seem to think those people are challenges to make me better at my job. If I can remain cool and help the guest out, I have succeeded. These guests shop for only one goal, they want to find happiness for themselves. Happiness isn’t found in a box wrapped under a Christmas tree or on a bed in the middle of a Barn in Huntsville, Alabama. Happiness is found in family and friends celebrating the birth of Christ. I know I have a cynical view on Christmas to some, but if we could all focus on Christ and a little less on us Christmas it would be better for everyone.

Divas Storm the Barn

Late last night two denim clad divas stormed the Barn in Huntsville, Alabama. Barn yard hand Magnolia Garland greeted the divas at the door at approximately 8 pm. They stormed the store wreaking havoc throughout the Barn. The buns of steel (I am not talking about their butts) blazed from tablescape to tablescape. The long skirted divas were out shopping while dad had the dozens of kids.

While Santa Baby was playing for the millionth time this season, the diva’s phone rang with hubby on the other end of the line. There was some trouble at the Dugger’s house. It sounded like a little kid fell or busted their lip or maybe some other catastrophic event in a preschooler’s life. Hubby urged the darling diva to hurry home and little miss denim replied, “Oh, the Barn is about to close in five minutes. I’ll be home soon.” It appeared that little miss denim was shopping with mom or mom-in-law for a party on Friday night. They grabbed and moved and tossed and tumbled all round the Barn. Thankfully, the pair didn’t have any little turkey plates with them.

The denim divas could be considered regulars around the Barn, but I don’t want to admit they are good customers. I am sure all they buy they return days later. Closing quickly approached and Hudson scurried to finish his onslaught of straightening and overall overachievement of Barn cleanliness. I added ornaments to a Christmas tree we lassoed and drug to the front of the Barn. Great concept, if you ever want to move a fully decorated Christmas tree tie a leash around the base and pull the tree wherever you want.

Oh, back to the divas. Shortly after closing they were still in the Barn acting like Cleopatra or Marie Antoinette. They acted as if they didn’t know that 9 pm was our closing. They were still looking and shopping at their own time and pace. Heather Chenille was attending to them at this point… 9:14 the two divas wanted to know what time the Barn closes. “Oh, it should have been fourteen minutes ago.” They didn’t budge. I can’t understand how someone can be so self-absorbed to think their retail servants don’t want to go home to their own families and would rather pluck ornaments out of tablescapes than shut down for the night.

Yes, we are in the business of customer service. However, they smugly stood with their pocket books open and eyes shut to the fact we were closing. We gave service with a smile, but I can’t help but think the next time I am in a store minutes before close I will be considerate of other people’s time as well as mine. The point I am trying to make is, in the Christmas season when people are grumpy, walking like zombies through the mall we all need to be a little bit more compassionate. Is that what Jesus would have done. Wouldn’t Christ, the reason for the season, want to enjoy the company of a merchant rather than demand service late at night! Christmas isn’t about decorating your home and giving over priced electronics.

Tomorrow I will storm the aisles and hallways of the malls and shops around Huntsville. I will force myself to think of others, not myself while I am shopping. The denim clad divas taught me this late last night.

PS… Today, I visited the Barn to pick up a few Christmas gifts. I heard a report that the Denim clad Divas returned to the scene of the crime to return most all of the stuff they purchased. WHY? I know, they didn’t want the stuff in the first place.

Barn Gone Wild

Tonight was my third day in a row to work at the Barn. It was quite an active and drama filled night. I walked in on Hudson, Magnolia Garland, and Faux Snow scrambling to prepare for a special Barn yard event, “How to decorate your horse stall for Christmas!” They were pulling and grabbing items off of shelves, tables, and from the back of the barn. Manhattan Chair gave me a special task. I had to call someone at the CO-OP about a Barn guest’s return. Cowbell was notorious for “working the system.” She was always looking for a deal, or finding a way she could stretch a $50 coupon into a $100 credit. She doesn’t mindlessly buy stuff only to return it a few days later. No, she has a plan!!!

I was very excited about my special task, since everyone else was running around like the chickens after their heads are cut off. I resolved the issue with the CO-OP but the manure hit the fan after I called Cowbell to explain the fix to her issue. Grumpy and argumentative are a few of the words I would use to describe her behavior on the phone. She was acting like a stubborn goat!  Cowbell wanted to know exactly home much dough she was getting back for returning one of two milking machines she purchased with a coupon. So I called the COOP again. I was shocked to find out that Cowbell, who had returned only one milking machine, was being refunded the cost of two milking machines at full price. This wasn’t Cowbell’s fault or plan, but she does know how to milk every penny out of a transaction.

Cowbell also visited the store last night, after I had resolved all the issues with the COOP, to check on another item of hers that was broken. She had purchased a Christmas decoration last year, stored it for a year and just unpacked it recently. She was angry when she discovered that the item didn’t work. She was even angrier when she was told we didn’t have that item this year and it was well past the 30 day grazing period. Saint Hudson was kind enough to look at all the stores in the nation to find her a replacement. Hudson is the patron saint of bag handles (and there are many bag handles in this world). Grumpy ole Cowbell smiled as she left the store. We smiled as well!

Just before the special Barn yard decorating event, Faux Snow had a brilliant idea, not really. “You know, if the head farmer wanted to inspire guests to buy holiday décor, she should put on Christmas music.” I had to stop Magnolia Garland from going Tonya Harding on the overly energetic elf. Ok, I was the one suggesting it was a bad idea. Yes, it was a retail savvy thought, but every day in the retail world when you can listen to Journey rather than listen to pornographic holiday songs is a day further from the brink of insanity. Hudson came over as soon as he heard the first jingle. I discouraged Faux from incriminating herself. She confessed quicker than you can find a bail bondsman around a jail house on Saturday night. It was a great idea, pop music keeps us sane!

I am sure you are scratching your head about the pornographic holiday music. I am sure you have all heard these songs and may even enjoy them. However, after hearing them 1,457 times you hear their hidden meaning. For example, “Baby it’s Cold Outside” sung by Dean Martin. The female vocalist leads off with, “I really can’t stay” “but baby it’s cold outside” urging her to stay in with him. She continues to find great reasons to leave. However, Dean Martin won’t give up the fight. Manhattan Chair calls it the date rape song. Another song that has unmentionable sexual tone to it is “Santa Baby.” Marilyn Monroe calls out to Santa Baby… I want, I want, I want for something extra in return. In other words, it is a very sleazy song.

The crowning moment of the night was almost at closing time when another bag handle walked into the Barn. Hudson was trying to help her husband with a return as he was explaining our return policy. She was roaming around the barn like a little lost sheep. Hudson said, “If the rooster had went on sale, I can only refund that amount.” From across the store the bag handle belts out, “Had GONE on sale!!!” as if she had a Ph.D. in the English language from Oxford University. Her husband was confused at what the fuss was about. Hudson kindly apologized and finished the transaction.

All of this action and I didn’t even tell you about the seventeen home school moms that had mommies night out. I thought I was living in an episode of the Duggers. And wait, we also had a suspected credit card fraud transaction that was stopped in mid-signature. But those are tales for another night. It was already one heck of a night at the Barn.

Poverty Barn

This weekend was a great weekend at the Barn. I had been away from the Barn for over a week. Returning from a trip to Wisconsin and a recruiting trip to Florida, it was great to work with all my friends on Sunday. I got to work with an old timer Manhattan Chair. Manhattan and I go way back… back, back, back, back, all the way back to the store opening. Earlier this fall we celebrated our Barn’s sixth anniversary by working together. I have learned a lot from everyone I have worked with, but Manhattan has taught me a lot about management and the PB way!!!

I want to share one of Manhattan’s stories with you first.  She had a guest that wanted to freshen up her bedroom décor. Fresh being the key word… This guest needed something new to re-energize a room that had given her so many memories. She shared that so many men had influenced her life and this was represented in her bedroom. She had dated a Protestant, a Catholic, and… {whispering} a Muslim… she had been married to an American, a Russian, and a Canadian. At this point in time, I would have boldly stated, “I feel so uncomfortable!!!” Not the calm, cool and collected Manhattan Chair! The guest was asking for intimately more than decorating advice. She stared a blushing situation down without blinking an eye. I on the other hand would have run screaming into the back of the Barn. No time to chat about rolling in the hay around this Barn.

I had the privilege of meeting a delightful couple in need of a dining table and chairs. This I could handle! They reminded me of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. The Montego family sat in one chair and it was too BIG. They tried another chair and it was too SMALL. They finally found a chair that was just RIGHT!! It was so charming how they moved from one chair to the next and communicated their likes and dislikes. They looked at this table and that table and found the one that was just right for them. They asked me if it would be going on sale anytime soon. Unfortunately for them the Barn’s executives don’t share top secret pricing information with little ole me. I shared with them some shopping strategies and tips and they shared with me their pet name for the Barn.

Before I tell you their clever name for the Barn, the Montegos are loyal lovers of the Barn. I am sure they are just Dave Ramsey disciples. Their pet name is a great reminder that the Barn must truly appreciate their loyal lovers during this economic down turn. Thus, customer service is a must! They lovingly call the Barn, Poverty Barn, because if you shop too much at the Barn, you will be forced to live in the poverty house. As soon as they shared their pet name, they gave me permission to use the name. So I shared with them my little blog that I sometimes write about the best retail store in Huntsville!!! I think me and the Montegos are kindred spirits. I hope I am at the Barn when they purchase their dining room table.

Barn Yard Behavior

It was great to be back at the Barn after traveling around the southeastern states. I look so forward to my time at the Barn on the weekends, because so many of our regular visitors stop by to say hello. This weekend we had so many friends and family come a calling. I was stationed in the back of the Barn which is a great spot to people watch.

I noticed that some Barn visitors wear their sunglasses inside. I guess they are just that cool. The lady wearing her Chanel shades made a mess of everything. She looked at the pillow covers, and tossed them back. She rummaged through the baskets only to leave some in the floor. She even pulled rugs off the display table. I guess those glasses keep her from seeing the mess she was making.

There was another friend who visited. We know Savannah because she has a twin, Havana. Savannah and Havana are identical twins with identically good tastes; they shop at the Barn. Savannah and her hubby are decorating their new home. She worked with almost every barn yard hand to find all of her decorative items. Going through so many hands we would call her a barn utensil. She needed a mirror, candle sticks, pillows, and bed linens. It is so fun to see a new bride with a new house shopping in the Barn. Heck, I remember that feeling. I picked up two dinning tables, two desks, a media suite, several rugs, and some knives from the farm kitchen. Savannah is a great friend and we enjoyed serving her.

The last friend who visited during my shift was a wonderful woman named Bella Beer Mug. She is a Russian immigrant who loves to bargain. “In Russia, we wheel and deal… haggle.” Magnolia Garland says Bella visits every Friday to visit her twig hat rack. Another married couple visited the Barn earlier in my shift and purchased the twig hat rack. I am sure after their honeymoon they will return the hat rack, but for this evening there wasn’t a rack in the back to sell. Bella came in to the Barn with all of her soviet swagger. “In Russia there are discounts on the last items.” I thought to myself “In Russia there are no Barns.” This made sense to me, not Bella. She tried her best to purchase the twig rack at a discounted rate.  Heather Chenille stood his ground, firmly dedicated to the cause, proclaiming capitalism and barn yard profits. Bella walked out of the store with a bubble wrapped twig in plastic bags, but it was at full price.

So God bless capitalism, and the men who created this great land. When Ronald Regan stood in Berlin asking Mr. Gorbachev to tear down “this wall” I am sure he didn’t expect the shock waves to be felt in the Barn in 2009. I love America! I love that we can build a better space station than those “godless commies” could ever dream of building. I learned that language from an astronaut friend of mine. I love that I can purchase a scent diffuser one day and a semiautomatic hand gun the next. God Bless the USA!

Turkey Plates

When I decided to return to work at the Barn I didn’t know how much fun I would have. I felt like Brett Favre returning from retirement to beat his old team. I enjoy each shift I work. Especially when I have the time to be at the Barn!

Recently while working with Hudson, our old friend Cameron Drape visited. She came into the Barn with an entourage of little turkey plates (grandchildren). I didn’t see all of them at first but after helping Cameron for a moment or two, I heard a ruckus in the back yard. There were four little turkey plates in the back, Tom, Tommy, Tomasena, and Tomás!

The ruckus was so loud that Hudson was about to lose his calm, cool nature. Hudson typically is a super cool unflappable sort, but little Tommy was a wrecking ball! They where playing “Tackle-Me Elmo” around the back room furniture. I began trying to corral the little ones forward. Tomasena gave me a dirty look for wrangling her. My job is to sell products at the Barn, not herding turkeys plates. I am skilled in this art from my other job at the Rocket.

Tommy was a cute kid. At one point he was playing in the front window. Yes, the front window display. I heard a crash, bang! When I turned the corner, he was lying in the floor. The little turkey plate looked up at me with a sinister grin, “I fell down!” I flushed him out and gathered up the display plates as I tried answering Cameron’s questions. She was debating the same items she had debated on Saturday with Heather Chenille and Magnolia Garland. She needed to match wall paper in her dining room. But then out of the blue she switched focus and concentrated on wreaths and garlands. Earlier this past weekend, she had picked out a table runner or two and now she had returned those items. The objective this evening was placemats and an outing for the turkeys plates. Every kid under the age of five wants to visit the Barn. It is much cooler than building a stuffed animal.

The little turkeys plates bouncing on the beds and throwing pillows around were a distraction. I tried bribing the little ones to behave with a fire truck. Cameron Drape would take them down a few yards from the Barn to see the fire truck if they would sit still. I am sure Cameron Drape didn’t like my idea. She wanted to get the turkey plates back to the cupboard. To add to the chaos we had other guests visiting our Barn. One of the barn yard hands helped me corral the turkey plates and finish the transaction while Hudson worked on a barnyard tool on the side.

As Cameron left the Barn, I had a little bit of sadness run through my bones. I don’t know, maybe because I wish I was knee high to a grasshopper hanging out with my grandmother in the mall. Or maybe it was I wished I could visit the fire truck to ring the bell – ding, ding! Ding, ding! Heck, I even wanted to bounce from sofa to coffee table to ottoman to chair and then back again! Some people think Cameron Drape is a handful, but it is all in a day’s work at the Barn and made for a great night with lots of action! And I am having fun with every minute of it!

Old Time Bucket

Over the last few weeks if I wasn’t at camp with Be Ready I was at the Barn. One of my favorite staffers asked me about the Barn. She asked me as if she thought I worked at a cow barn, horse barn or goat barn. I told her that I worked at a home furnishings store named, Bucket Barn. She exclaimed, “The Bucket Barn!!! Isn’t that in Madison?” “Oh, no… that is Old Time Bucket” was my answer. See people get the Bucket Barn and Old Time Bucket confused all the time. I don’t see how or why, but they do. Here are a few clues that will help you keep the Bucket Barn and Old Time Bucket from being confused.

Halloween Décor:
One day a lady called the Barn to ask for one of those witches flying into the side of a house.” Hudson chuckled to himself and kindly told the phone guest, “We are the Barn. Are you referring to Old Time Bucket?” Hudson didn’t try to explain that our Halloween items were for interior décor, not the cliché witch flying via broom into the side of a building like Big Lots, Dollar Tree or Tuesday Morning. Hudson didn’t want to make the customer feel awkward about calling the wrong number. We typically don’t sell outdoor items in the fall. Nor do we have harvest festive items like a witch flying. Oh wait, we have faux birds! Hudson was very friendly and very helpful.

The Buggy Effect:
Wally World and K-Mart have buggies, the Bucket Barn doesn’t. Have you ever been in a home furnishings store where they offered a buggy? The buggy really should be a dead give away to what bucket you are shopping. True, establishments like World Market and Tuesday Morning have buggies. But the Bucket Barn doesn’t. The Old Time Bucket is more similar to Tuesday Morning or Big Lots than Crate&Barrel or Restoration Hardware. Volume home furnishing stores’ products look more like motel furnishings than unique trinkets and such that will be cherished for years and years. Big Lots is more of a get it quick and fast than detail oriented service. Nothing against any of those other companies, but the buggy is a tell-tale fact!

The Phone Greeting:
Field test number 43, call the Barn then call Old Time Bucket, you will see the difference in pride, professionalism, and product loyalty!!!! I just finished the field test. The Barn hands down had a better reception on the phone. I couldn’t under stand the Old Time Bucket greeting. That may be why the Barn is confused with Old Time Bucket. The customers can understand us. Try it… look up your lock Barn phone number. Call them, ask a question, any question. I am sure the Bucket Barn will be more personable than the other Bucket!

Doesn’t matter how you compare the two, I work at the better bucket! And I am proud of it. I love working at the Barn and Camp. No matter what you do, find something that makes you happy, whether it is teaching counselors to lead kids or organizing candles. Find what you enjoy!

Barn Yard Tales

[Editor’s Note: Names have been changed to protect innocent… and not so innocent]

Working at the Barn is fun and interesting. You may recall the chronicles of Cameron Drape in my blog Retail Challenge. I have a few stories to share with you tonight. First, I need to give a shout-out to my co-worker Josephine Bedding. She was working with me the night the Chesapeake family came into the barn yard to return a few wedding gifts. The family demographic was mom, dad, bride, and little sister. No groom to speak of that evening. We were a little busy and short staffed when the father of the bride demanded service, but we obliged. Mr. & Mrs. Chesapeake took charge of the situation while bride stood by in a helpless manner. Oh, if you are wondering what sis was doing? She was on the sectional couch playing with her iPhone.

She returned towels, plates, and a few catalog items. One of the items was clearly a screw up on the Barn’s part. It was an engraved shadow box with a misspelled word on it. It wasn’t a misspelled name or something. No, the engraving guy misspelled “August.” True, it was probably was a typo. But as bad of a speller as I am, I know “AUGSUT” is incorrect. Even with our mistakes, the point I would like to make to the Chesapeake’s, if you daughter is old enough to get married; she is absolutely old enough to return her wedding gifts herself. Parents of the world, your kids can survive without you holding their hands.

Today one of my favorite customers came into the store. I have to admire her; because she is so old school that historians ask her to proof their work. Silk Dupioni is one of those southern ladies that get their hair done once week with lots of hair spray. Mrs. Dupioni comes into the Barn with style and grace. She is always dressed in a Nancy Reagan style two-piece suit with matching hand bag and shoes. She always pays in cash, just like my grandfather did. How do you keep lots of cash? Pay with cash rather than credit cards. She is one of a kind. Silk Dupioni looks more like European royalty than Huntsville elite. And I imagine that Morgan Freeman drives her around town.

My last barn yard tale came right at closing tonight when Heather Chenille took a phone call for a possible send-sell to the 205 area code. Rhys Console wanted some cushions for his outdoor furniture. The Summit didn’t have what he needed and his buddy Clay Aiken had a better outdoor set than he did. So Heather went to the remote stock room to see if we had the needed inventory. I was brought into the transaction somewhat late, but I got to handle closing act. I was extra nice since Rhys had gotten the run around from another store. Even thought it was after the store closed and while dealing with a lost transaction with a crazy picture frame customer. I thought it was cool chatting via phone with a soulful idol like Rhys.

Everyday of my life is a new adventure. I don’t know if I will be talking to a man like Rhys or receive a signed sheet of music from John Williams. My life is great! I have met moon walkers, music legends, big screen actors and a Pulitzer winning author. I am just a farm kid and that is why they picked me to fix Hubble. I am just kidding about that, but I am just a farm kid who is looking for a different outcome each day. Working in the barn yard helps achieve that!!!

Retail Challenge

There is a saying at Aviation Challenge that I try to live by in my daily life. We times get tough we say, “It’s Aviation Challenge, not Aviation Easy!” The point of the quote is simple and can be said in many ways or different metaphors. For example, “When life gives you lemons, make lemon-aid!” This weekend while working at the Barn I had to live up to the standard I set for myself. A standard that directed me not to work at Wal-Mart or Taco Bell for they do not know how to give excellent customer service. A standard that has lead me to look all guest in the eyes and say, how may I help you or whatever you would like ma’am! It doesn’t matter their race, creed, color, nationality or track record in our store I am to treat all customers with superior attention and care.

Before I tell you this story, I need to lay the ground work. I have been working at the Barn for almost six years with a small absence last year. There have been thousands of guest most of who I do not know their first name. I also worked with a spunky lady in the stock room name Adeline Rug. Early in my tenure I was doing this massive return for a lady for the Kids Barn. Unfortunately, the colors didn’t look right or her grand daughter didn’t like the thousand piece linen set that Grammy ordered online. I didn’t really care; I was only there to help! Adeline whipped around the corner, “Is that FRUITCAKE still in the… break room good!?!” I looked puzzled at my coworker. After the lady left, I learned that she often returns items. And what Adeline really intended to say was “Is that fruitcake still in the store.” See, she knew this lady.

Months and years would pass and I would learn that Fruitcake lady had a name, Cameron Drape. Cameron loves to buy stuff and then return it, buy stuff, buy more stuff, and then return it. It is a cycle for her. We have grown to appreciate her unique qualities, her neurotic nature, and loyalty to our brand. I think she buys stuff knowing that she will return the stuff. This gives her someone to talk to on a regular basis.

One day last week, Cameron came into the store. She was greeted warmly and helped by multiple associates. Josephine Bedding worked with her for a little while, but then it was my turn. Cameron wanted to purchase the Sausalito pattern in natural. However, she called it yellow. The executives at the store’s head quarters have a way will naming colors. Rather than blue, purple, red, or gray we have ocean mist, violet haze, cayenne, or granite. The plate was a sandy color, but I wouldn’t describe it a yellow.

She “LOVED” this color so much she asked if we had more dishes in the back. So I pulled on the dishes from the back and we proceeded to match and reorganize the colors into dark yellow, medium yellow and light yellow. She would take the plates into the other rooms of the store to check the colors in different lighting. I am obsessive at times however the Sausalito platter is a hand thrown dish that is hand painted by cheap labor in some foreign country; I would not expect perfection from a hand made product that is manufactured for the masses!!! But we stacked and organized, after all that is what I am good at doing.

The part that still baffles me is when the customer OODA loops me. They will do something so completely unexpected. The whole time I was helping Cameron I was telling myself that she will just return these dishes in a few weeks. But then out of nowhere with credit card ready to swipe she notices another set of dishes. She then starts mixing and matching patterns. Since the credit card was out, I boxed the dishes up on to be sold. You know what she said, “I think I will come back with the other dishes are on sale.” I did everything I was trained to do to close a sale and she does something unexpected. Rather than buying stuff to return it, she bought nothing!

I knew what I was getting into; I should have walked the other way. But I don’t work at Wal-Mart. No, I work at the Barn and it is Retail Challenge, not Retail Easy!!!! When the standards are set high you have to bring you have to bring you’re A-game everyday!