Freedlander's department store published a manual back in 1974 that contained a list of employee guidelines. The guidelines explain why the store was so successful all those years.
"The central policy of this store is service to our customers," stated the manual. "We hope, for your sake and ours, that we make the sale, but we must above all make this store is a pleasant place to shop. This is up to each one of us — our contact with the customer each time is the purpose for which this whole business exists.
"Greet your customer as you would a guest in your home — with courtesy, cheerfulness, and a sincere desire to serve him/her — and learn the names of as many customers as you can.
"Customers must be approached as soon as you see them. Stock work should be laid aside and the customer approached immediately.
"The customer deserves your full attention — give it to him/her.
"Your relations with your customers are business-like. Neither personal friendship nor any dislike for an individual should have, or dare have, the slightest effect on your service.
"Don't ignore children. They like to be recognized and their parents appreciate your consideration."
No wonder the department store was in business for more than 100 years.
Give your share
At the end of World War II, Freedlander's was collecting donations for the United National Clothing Collection "for the destitute in the liberated areas" of Europe. Stores across the U.S. were hoping to collect 150,000,000 pounds of clean, serviceable clothing, shoes and bedding.
"America has thousands of tons stowed away in attics, cellars, storage chests," stated a store ad. "Give your share today. There's a receiving depot on our main floor."
One Monday morning during the late 1950s, Freedlander's employees arrived at work only to discover a robbery had taken place over the weekend. All of the furs had been stolen.
Law enforcement speculated that the robber(s) had entered the store during business hours, then hid in the basement furnace area until the store had closed and they could carry the furs to the back alley without being observed.
In a previous column, Louise Holt — a Freedlander’s employee at the time of the robbery — said the store never replaced the furs. As far as she knew the robbers were never caught.
Back in 1961, only one other department store of its class in the United States had a higher volume of sales than Freedlander’s in Wooster.
Thought you should know.
Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-345-6419.