Based upon my experience Tuesday, maybe we are turning into a "communist" economy, as understood by those of us who are old enough to remember hearing about the problem with both quantity and choice at the Soviet State Department Store, GUM.
I went to Rite Aide to purchase a pair of brown, large, compression sox. While I had previously purchased a pair of such sox there some time in the past, there was not a pair on the display on Tuesday. The approach I would have hoped for would have been: "Yes sir, they aren't being stocked right now, but we can order you a pair, or two pairs, and they will be here within a week, and I can call you when they come in."
Sadly, it was not to be. This is a display from the manufacturer's distributor and they only restock what they have on display. The clerk did take my phone number and offered to call around to the other Rite Aide stores in the area, but I have not heard from her yet. She was polite and cheerful, but not effective.
Later in the day I went to a CVS♠ where I walked in and tried to describe my quest, but failed. I wandered off and found the hosiery section, where a clerk told me that there were no other displays. I then looked around and saw an aisle with medical supplies and found what I was looking for in type, but not in color and size.
On the other hand, at Staples my experience is that the female clerks are the ones who know the territory and the male clerks are clueless. This is, of course, a generalization, but it does influence who I ask for help. And, it is an embarrassment to me, based upon my gender.
My wife says it is the big chains that cause this kind of thing. She is a "small town" girl.
I think it is treating the clerks like clerks rather than like thinking human beings who should be encouraged to interact with the customers and should be encouraged to show initiative. And maybe a small investment in training? You squash initiative a couple of times and you may be successful in killing it, or at least driving it into hibernation. The bureaucratization of entrepreneurship.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Which will remain nameless, as I know several people who work at various CVS stores and whom I see as real "go-getters." Thus, this malaise isn't universal, but it may be spreading.