Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Twelve things to remember

Marshall Field (1834-1906)
With "The Twelve Days of Christmas" playing on the radio and the season of excessive consumer spending well underway, it seems appropriate to turn to the words of one of the all-time great U.S. department store pioneers for advice.  Marshall Field is the man credited for transforming shopping into a customer-friendly, fun experience.  He recognized early in his career that buying was done primarily by women, a revelation that changed everything.  Adding conveniences such as a coat check, nursery, library, restrooms, telephones and a restaurant to his store signaled that he aimed to please his valued customers.  Field offered unconditional refunds and consistent pricing, and insisted that his staff use a no-pressure sales pitch.   He built his empire on a sensible formula: "Give the lady what she wants."

Field's account of a dozen things to remember is a surprisingly non-materialistic list for a man who made his fortune selling goods.  It reflects the tenets of a Puritan upbringing, a humble background that the influential Chicago retailer never forgot.   

Twelve things to remember
  1. The value of time
  2. The success of perseverance
  3. The pleasure of working
  4. The dignity of simplicity
  5. The worth of character
  6. The power of kindness
  7. The influence of example
  8. The obligation of duty
  9. The wisdom of economy
  10. The virtue of patience
  11. The improvement of talent
  12. The joy of originating


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