Monday, January 26, 2009

A Farewell to Expo


I suppose it was inevitable. Everything I like, it seems, is just too good to last. The products I like get discontinued, my favorite restaurant entrees get taken off the menu (or else the restaurant itself closes, like Zoom Kitchen or Taza), and the stores where I enjoy shopping go out of business. I have probably mentioned it before, but I used to work at an Expo Design Center. It was the best retail job I ever had, which is saying a lot when you consider my deep and passionate hatred for working in sales.

But at Expo, we were paid a fairly decent hourly wage, with tuition reimbursement and health insurance, and a 401K plan. The management was not constantly harassing us to con customers into buying things they did not need or opening credit cards with exorbitant interest rates. I was still in design school, and the flexible hours worked with my schedule. I even got to use my recently acquired knowledge of textiles to help the customers in the fabric deparment where I worked. Since the store opened late on Sunday mornings, I even got to start going to church again, a luxury I did not have when working for other retailers. It was great for me as an employee, but perhaps it was not so great for their bottom line.

The store where I worked in Lincoln Park was among Home Depot's first round of closings back in 2005. It had only been open for about 2 years, and I had only worked there a few months when they made the announcement. After we were given our required 60 days' notice, the store where I loved to work transformed into a store that I dreaded working in. The going out of business sale plunged everything into chaos. To this day, I have a hard time shopping going out of business sales because I will never forget what it was like to have the customers descend upon our store like flocks of gleeful vultures, coming to snatch away every discounted item from our dead decaying carcass of a store. No one cared that we were all losing our jobs with no severance pay. All that mattered was the discounts they could get. It took a long time before I could even pass by the empty building that once housed our store without wanting to cry. The last time I saw it, it was still empty. So my heart goes out to all my fellow designers who have been downsized by those greedy jerks at Home Depot, which is a store that I still have a serious grudge against. After the way we were mistreated, I refuse to buy so much as a nail from that wretched store. Now there will be no more Expo Design Centers and Home Depot stores are all that will remain. At least this time they have the decency to give the employees severance packages.

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