Everything must go

<p>Friday morning and the notices of administration have been stuck to the doors. Sigh, this is it, the beginning of the end. Though at this point there was nothing else to indicate the stores imminent demise, no pointers to the chaos about to commence. MCR has sent POS of a 'Weekend Spectacular', 20% off everything. It doesn't look unusual, just an attempt to grab a few extra quid from the Christmas shoppers.<br />
<br />
Late on Friday MCR announce 'closing down sales' across the chain. On Saturday morning we receive enormous amount of POS, including lots of huge 'Store closing!' banners. The discount POS goes all the way up to 90%. We also get stickers and POS to advertise the sale of the fixtures and fittings which we are assured are only to be used in the event of no buyer being found. The assurances seem hollow and we shudder. But what of the POS that indicates 'liquidation?'<br />
<br />
'Up to 50% off everything' signs go up everywhere (confusingly alongside the 20% ones). You need a microscope to read the 'Up to', so we are besieged with questions: 'Is everything 50% then?' etc. Then things get seriously weird. Having removed all other offers many books are now more expensive than they were but this fact seems lost on customers. There must be some public money to be wasted on a study of why signs that say 'closing down' suddenly make customer assume they are getting a fantastic deal when they're not. It's some odd voodoo that's for sure.<br />
<br />
Communication is frustratingly kept at a bare minimum and when it arrives it is contradictory. MCR decrees any customer with a Borders Gift Card has to spend double its value. At 10.30am, after a flood of complaints, this reverts to 100% redemption. Hurray! The day looks rosier. 30 minutes later it reverts back. We receive an email from Philip Downer. In it he thanks us all for all our hard work, asks to remember what a great chain it was and wishes us the best for the future. I assume burly debt collectors must have dragged him from his office before he could type that word that seems to be the hardest . . . 'sorry'. The nearest he gets is to &quot;recognise how very difficult the past couple of weeks have been&quot;. Thanks. <br />
<br />
Our inventory system stops working. The MCR rep states it will return, as yet it hasn't. This does not help. I thought they wanted to make money? Who is in charge? Head office is silent, MCR has a rep in store but they give us no useful information. The regional managers send emails asking for figures. What for? It feels like we are the uninformed troops and the generals can't even see the battle from their hill. <br />
<br />
MCR bring in temps to 'help' with the POS. Unfortunately they have no grasp of merchandising and we have to correct most of it. Why are they here? How much did they cost? We could have done that! We don't have any stock to process! The next day much of the POS lies forlornly on the floor. <br />
<br />
It's an intensely horrible weekend. Bargain (sorry, Great Value) is at first the only line at 50% off, this is swiftly followed by some of the less popular sections. The shop is quickly devastated and as soon as we can tidy it, it is pulled apart. Add to this some very angry customers claiming we knew all about the administration that we're 'greedy' and 'money grabbers'! Some customers seem to personally blame the staff. Booksellers are reduced to tears. Many are angry and there is much gritting of teeth but no one is rude or abusive. We also have many kind and genuinely upset customers that make our day more bearable. Their wishes of luck warm us a little.<br />
<br />
By the end of that day we are left feeling like punch drunk boxers, dazed and confused. The amount of stock flying out of the doors leads us to believe the end will come sooner rather than later. But we just don't know and as usual we haven't been told.</p>