I may write a lot about the deals in local retail stores, but I don't make a point to schmooze a lot of their employees. Getting too close to employees can compromise reporting. Getting to know a salesperson really well can also mean feeling compelled to spend more money just to be nice.
So when a retail store closes, I feel bad for its owner and employees but I rarely know many of them personally.
Recently, that changed. A couple of stores have closed or are closing where I have known its employees for more than a decade.
Dave Smittkamp of Dave's Furniture World closed his 12 year old store in Richfield last month. Smittkamp had some of the lowest prices anywhere on mattresses in the Twin Cities. He didn't inflate the regular price to make the sale price appear even better. And his showroom, while never as shiny or sophisticated as typical furniture store's, was always clean. I've seen other mattress outlets with scuffs and tears on their beds with prices no lower than Dave's.
But mattresses are now sold by hardware stores (Menards) and warehouse clubs. Their prices are not as low in my experience, and they don't have the space to let you lie down on them, but they are more conveniently located.
I also liked how Smittkamp brought his “Ahoy Mateys!” parrot to work. Here’s hoping the unsinkable Smittkamp will resurface soon.
Bloomingdale's starts its closing sale Sunday and will close its MOA store permanently March 17. One department can't carry a whole store, but the bedding department was always was of the store's busiest. I attribute that to the expertise of its sales staff, especially Madlen and Sue (I never learned their last names). Both are extremely knowledgeable about features and quality. They are rare examples of sales people who aren't afraid to share their opnions, even if was less than complimentary to a Bloomie's brand. And they were always happy to offer to special order something from another store if MOA didn't carry it. Best of all, they were happy to share when something might be going on sale soon.
In all of my years of shopping there, they were the type of model employees who are always busy with a customer or making the department look first-rate. They are the type of sales people who made me feel good about their store. They will be missed.