More about Rich’s


I mentioned in my last post that I really, really miss Rich’s department store.  In the article about Rich’s to which I linked in that post, I came across this quote:

In the early 1920s, Rich’s enacted a liberal exchange and credit policy whereby any item could be exchanged and nearly anybody could receive store credit. It was not uncommon for Rich’s to provide refunds on merchandise not carried by its stores or to provide full refunds on noticeably used items. Rich’s operated under the philosophy that all people were inherently honest and that going the extra mile for customers would benefit the company in the long run. Although this approach had many detractors, the store’s continued sales growth helped prove the soundness of this philosophy and endeared Rich’s to its customers.

Even when I worked for Rich’s in the late 1980s, they had the same sort of commitment to their customers.  I remember Keith, the guy who trained us, saying, “If someone comes to you and says, ‘Parisian has this same shirt for $14.99,’ sell it to him for that price.  They may not have it for that price:  they may not even have the same brands of shirts we do.  The point is, the customer is always right, and at Rich’s we always trust our customers.”  It was a great store.  They did treat their customers right.  And it was also a great place to work.

In today’s cutthroat, Wal-Mart-ized climate, I guess “the customer is always right” cuts into the profit margins too much.


About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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3 Responses to More about Rich’s

  1. Cancerman says:

    I don’t think it’s just the profit margins. As the south has grown it’s lost that small town we’re all in this together so lets be nice feeling. You can definitely see this in business. Although Wal mart, as the ultimate small town store should help, not hinder.

  2. Mark says:

    I used to love to go to Macy’s at the Galleria in Riverchase. You know Macy’s has bought out all of these regional department stores like Rich’s, Marshall Fields, Hecht’s, Robinsons-May, etc. In doing so not only have they taken away the identity and tradtion of these stores, but they have also really morphed into something that is not what I expect from Macy’s. I went the other night into a Macy’s that was converted from a Robinsons-May, and the store was picked over, trashy, and the employees were nowhere to be found. I went in to purchase some bed linens, and the housewares department was just a little corner of the store. I remember being awed at the size of the housewares department the first time I stepped foot into a Macy’s. Combining all of those stores has not been a positive experience at all for customers.

  3. RevJATB says:

    The first bad thing was when the Campeau Corporation bought out Federated in 1988, riding the wave of 80s “greed is good” leveraged buyouts. (Federated had actually owned Rich’s since 1976, but they had allowed the store to remain as it was.) Campeau Corp. sought to get bigger and bigger, the result being that in 1990 Federated had to file for bankruptcy. That’s when customers began seeing big changes at Rich’s. The quality of the merchandise went way down, as did the level of service (mainly because there weren’t enough employees to provide quality service anymore).

    In 1994, Federated, having “emerged” from bankruptcy, acquired Macy’s. As Mark said, that’s pretty much when Macy’s stopped being Macy’s. Federated eventually merged the shell of the former Rich’s with the shell of the former Macy’s. They called it “Rich’s-Macy’s” for a brief time in the Atlanta and Birmingham markets, but eventually dropped the “Rich’s” part altogether. Now “Macy’s” is pretty much just a name: nothing really remains of the “old” Macy’s. And of course nothing at all remains of Rich’s: not even the name.

    In more sad news, I learned this week that Belk has purchased Parisian and will be changing all the Parisian stores to Belk stores in 2007. Another one bites the dust . . .

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