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Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Employee ‘Collisions’ In Your Store

Three ideas to boost the likelihood of serendipitous encounters.

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Tony Hsieh, the entrepreneur who found fame and even greater fortune with his shoe company Zappos, is a big believer in “collisions” — serendipitous encounters where workers randomly run into each other and share ideas. He told Entrepreneur magazine he’d even shut down a bridge linking his office’s parking garage to force workers to walk through a common area before they could get to their offices to encourage such collisions. Your staff may not be large, but could you shake things up to spark similar innovation? Occasionally get a bench jeweler out on the sales floor, insist sales staff take turns having lunch with other employees they don’t normally spend much time with, ask a new employee to review your procedures after their first two weeks, force yourself to strike up a conversation with that interesting-looking stranger at the Las Vegas show sandwich bar?

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For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.”

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