First, this Pennsylvania town lost its Macy’s. Then Sears. Now, all eyes were on J.C. Penney.

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A bittersweet tale that is all too real from the Washington Post. An excellent,  thought-provoking read.

HERMITAGE, Pa. – Barbara Cake had made the sale. A man was hovering near the gold bracelets at the J.C. Penney jewelry counter when she said, “Hi, sir, how are you?” Before long, he was swiping his credit card for both a bracelet and a pair of diamond earrings for his wife. But Barbara wasn’t done.

“If she doesn’t like these,” she told the customer, “then tell her you know a lot of ladies who would.”

“I just want my husband to buy me a watch,” she continued. “She should be truly happy with these.”

Barbara ripped the receipt from the register, pointed at the flimsy paper and, in a tone that sounded as if she was revealing a sworn secret, she delivered her favorite line.

There were four days until Christmas, and this customer had decided against shopping online to come to a real store and talk to real people. To Barbara, that meant she had to provide something he couldn’t get from clicking buttons on a computer. Could the internet assure the customer that he was making the right choice? Could it praise him for being a thoughtful husband? Could it make sure that he was getting the best possible deal? Read More

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