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Real Deal: The Case of the Risque Business Interest

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[span class=alert]To be eligible for publication in INSTORE, responses must include your name, store name, and the city and state in which your store is located. [/span]

[dropcap cap=T]he team at Starlight Fine Jewelry was evolving. That’s how owner Connie Goodrich was looking at it. At first, the prospect of losing Jessica, her top salesperson, was more than a little disconcerting.[/dropcap]

Over a week or two, though, Connie began to appreciate the opportunity that might present itself with the addition of a new person and some new energy. Her core staff had been together for more than six years with no major changes, and even before Jessica gave her notice, Connie had begun to feel that the dynamic in the store was getting a little stale. Business was great. Connie couldn’t help but notice, though, that the enthusiasm and passion her clients had come to expect from the Starlight team seemed to have waned. Her husband Jake, Starlight’s designer and craftsman, said it was like they’d all gotten too used to the routine, and he agreed that the store really needed a dose of some new, creative energy.

Of course, the actual process of hiring a new person was something Connie and Jake faced with absolute dread. The few times they tried to look for additional help over the years were, in their view, wasted efforts. The only people who responded to their ads were the desperate or otherwise unemployable, and the headhunters some of their friends used were beyond Starlight’s budget. They never seemed to have the good fortune to stumble on a great salesperson just wanting to come to work for them, and even when they had come across an almost-acceptable applicant, the whole idea of actually conducting a worthwhile interview was frightening at best. Now, here they were, having to do it all again.

The first day Starlight’s Help Wanted ad ran in the local online classifieds, Norah Evers was among the group of applicants to visit the store. She lived about 40 miles away with her soon-to-be ex-husband, and was looking to move to town. She wanted to find a job that would be challenging and fun, and since she’d always loved jewelry, the opportunity caught her attention. Despite having no retail or other sales background, Norah was educated, well spoken and accustomed to the finer things in life. Her resume was diverse, and her 10 years as a community college instructor clearly prepared her for dealing with a variety of people.

Jake and Connie both felt that Norah had an ideal personality and a great deal of potential. After two more visits (they couldn’t exactly call them interviews) and a few calls to references, Connie presented an offer which Norah accepted, and they agreed that she would start in 10 days, on the first of the next month.

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The Goodriches couldn’t believe their good fortune. For the first time in as long as they could remember, they felt really great about a new hire. Everyone on the team had met and spent time with Norah and they were all looking forward to her joining the team. They even agreed to split up the responsibility for her training and committed to doing whatever they could to help make her comfortable and get her up to speed as quickly as possible.

Three days before Norah was scheduled to start in the store, Starlight’s office manager came into Connie’s office with a copy of an article she’d printed off of an Internet news service. It was about an entrepreneur who was in the process of buying a shopping plaza on the outskirts of town. The article identified the man as Justin Evers who, with his wife, Norah, owned several businesses, including Just A Bite, a popular cupcake bakery, and a chain of highly successful adult novelty stores called “Imagine.” As both Connie and Jake continued to read the article about zoning issues with the property, the one and only mention of Norah Evers became all they saw. Surely this couldn’t be the same person with whom they were all so impressed. There was nothing about owning any businesses on Norah’s resume or on her application. Teaching college classes, riding horses, a brief stint as an accountant after college… but clearly nothing about adult novelties! All of her references raved about her, too – and no one mentioned anything like this!

Connie could hear her mother’s words echoing I her ears: “Connie, if it looks too good to be true, you can bet that it is.”

[h3][b]The BIG questions:[/h3]  With Norah scheduled to start in three days, what should Connie and Jake do now? Should ownership in an apparently well-run adult novelties business eliminate a high potential applicant like Norah from consideration as an employee? Should they rescind their employment offer – and if so, what should they say to Norah? If they do choose to hire Norah anyway, what should they tell the rest of the staff?[/b]

[span class=alert]To be eligible for publication in INSTORE, responses must include your name, store name, and the city and state in which your store is located. [/span]

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