April 22, 2013

The Career Reset Button

After graduating with a mass communications/journalism degree back in 1998, I spent the next decade and change working in professions that were conducive to a degree of such worthlessness. Namely, I wrote for newspapers, trade magazines, online startups and pretty much anyone who required freelance writing/editing work.

In other words, I spent a lot of years sitting behind the warm glow of computer monitors, which can insulate a person from the realities of day-to-day existence that takes place beyond the world of computers. This is why so many newsroom people have such strong opinions about automobile emissions but at the same time can't explain how the Caribou Coffee they're drinking made it from a Bolivian coffee field to their desk.

Likewise--around the time my wife got it in her head that she wanted to open a furniture, home decor and design store a couple years ago--I genuinely didn't know or care how such a store would go about procuring inventory. I was comfortable in the knowledge that there would be a furniture genie that blinked its eyes and filled the store when inventory started to run low.

Imagine my surprise when I learned--upon my wife actually following through and opening a store--there is NO SUCH THING AS A FURNITURE GENIE! No, it turns out that some unfortunate person has to go out and pick up furniture acquisitions and bring it all back to the store. I was even more surprised to learn that--in the case of our store--that unfortunate person is me.

If our store dealt in brand new furniture, this wouldn't even be an issue. With brand new furniture, my wife would place an order with a company, and a week or so later a semi would pull up to our store and deliver her order--which is the next best thing to a furniture genie. But, no, our store distinguishes itself by housing unique secondhand furniture pieces, which my wife purchases from all over the state, and then I'm sent all over the state to pick up those purchases. For a guy who spent the last decade sitting stationary behind a desk, this has been a jarring career change.

And it's been a jarring career change largely because my wife doesn't take into consideration where she sends me to pick up furniture. Oh, sure, the antique armoire she purchased awhile back was a great deal, for example, but she's not the one who had to travel into the bowels of one of the worst neighborhoods in the Twin Cities to pick it up. In retrospect, the reason it was such a good deal was because no one else dared to enter that particular demilitarized zone.

Perhaps one of the most memorable furniture pick-ups to date took place in a sprawling, dilapidated building that had once been a mattress factory. This huge facility was so run down, it was downright terrifying. While the outside looked like something from Soviet Russia, the inside was a disorienting maze of cavernous warehouses and maddening dead ends.

Yet, despite it's general end-of-the-world emptiness, there were pockets here and there where rooms were still being utilized for . . . things. There was, for example, one warehouse in that facility where a seminar was taking place about sexually transmitted disease awareness and prevention. I'm not kidding. There was even a desk set up outside the warehouse doors with a basket filled with free condoms. I actually stood there for a minute or two, just staring at that basket, wondering "Where in the HECK is the furniture I'm supposed to pick up in this crazy building?!!!"

All things considered, this store has marked a drastic career shift for me, but I have a newly found appreciation for how certain businesses go about acquiring inventory, which was something I never learned in ANY of my journalism classes.

Posted by Ryan at April 22, 2013 10:45 AM | TrackBack

Phillips, or Hawthorn?

Posted by: Keith at April 25, 2013 11:57 AM


Posted by: Ryan at April 26, 2013 01:26 PM


Posted by: Keith at May 2, 2013 10:53 AM
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