The field covered in this volume is limited to the business of retail selling as carried on in the department stores and some other stores of Cleveland. The retail stores considered can all be assigned to one of the three following classes: (1) The department store of the first rank which draws trade not only from the whole city and the suburbs but also from the towns and smaller cities of a large surrounding district; (2) the neighborhood store which does a smaller business within narrower limits, drawing its trade, as the name indicates, from the immediate neighborhood; (3) the five and ten cent store, well known by syndicate names, where no merchandise which must be sold above 10 cents is carried.
The five largest department stores in Cleveland employ about 5,800 people distributed among several mercantile departments, and in a variety of occupations that find a place in the industry. Of these 5,800 people approximately seven-tenths are women and three-tenths are men; 90 per cent are over 18 years of age and 10 per cent are under 18.
The entire force of a store is sometimes arbitrarily divided by the management into “productive,” and “non-productive” help. From 40 to 60 per cent of the employees were reported as actually taking in money, while the remainder, the “non-producers,” were engaged in keeping the business going and making it possible for the “producers” to sell goods.
The greatest number of opportunities either for employment or promotion are in the selling force. This is often spoken as being “on the floor.” Both boys and girls may find employment here, though a large majority of the sales force is made up of them. Speaking in general terms, men are only employed to sell men’s furnishings, sporting goods, bulky merchandise, such as rugs, furniture, blankets, etc., and yard goods which are difficult to handle, such as household linens and dress goods. Positions as buyers and buyer’s assistants are not restricted by sex and boys and girls may both consider them as a possible goal.
A neighborhood store is that type of department store which draws its trade from a comparatively limited area of which the store is the center. The kind of goods carried are practically the same as in the large department store and the variety of merchandise may be nearly as great; but the selection is more limited because of the small stock.
Promotion to selling positions is more rapid in the neighborhood stores than in regular department stores. One reason for this is that a larger proportion of the force is “productive,” i.e., selling. This proportion may run as high as 80 or even 90 per cent, as compared with the 40 to 60 per cent of “productive” help in large department stores.