Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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software, etc.

When I was fourteen, I used to hang around at a chain software retail store, Software etc. I was really into computers, so I was cruising software; over time, I made some friends.

I was there more than some of the employees, finally I got a job there after school and on weekends.

I learned I was a great salesman. I could convince people they needed things they didn't. It was a matter of sizing them up, talking to them about other stuff, listening to their needs, and being familiar with a range of materials to offer them - often not what they'd set out to buy, but certainly something promoting enlightenment.

I could sell $1500 worth of software in a day (my manager told me I had a 10% return rate). After a while, who cared? I wasn't even making commission - I was making $3.91 an hour, even after a year there.

So I became disillusioned. But I could still borrow any program to "evaluate" on my home system. I used this lending library for one and a half years. I learned a lot about software during my time there. I played nearly every game that came out for the IBM/PC between 1987 and 1990.

But I was one of the only employees excited about computers. For most people, this was a retail job, where they could play Amiga arcade between customers. The store was the in basement of a Magnificent Mile B. Dalton Booksellers, no windows and poor circulation. It was a poor atmosphere.
Employee turnover was high, one every three months. People were often stealing money and slacking off. While I was there, the store went through a period of losing 12% of its stock (now, stores average .3). Nobody really cared about their job, as the corporation decreed the most inane promotions - including encouraging customers to fold their applications into paper airplanes before dropping them in a box. For this, we were sent redpurple three foot paper airplane paper. We had videotapes of advertisements to play on endless half hour loops. There was no room for improvisation, or improvement. Work long enough, become assistant manager. Work long enough, become manager. Bleah.

I left before we got into game cartridges.
But I did get my start consulting here.

My first assistant manager, JR, was the next youngest guy in the store, and the next most software proficient. Except, he wasn't responsible, and he wasn't considerate. He would use programs, and leave trash in the boxes, reseal them, and sell them to people. Arriving back home in Michigan with an abused commercial product was disillusioning to that woman.

He took an interest in my career early on - decided I would be a good pamphleteer. He made a few flyers for the store, and had me stand out on Michigan Avenue to hand them out. It was below freezing, with the windchill, but I wasn't allowed to wear my coat - I had to wear a shirt and tie, store uniform.

He was gone before I was, working next at Radio Shack. I dropped in to say hi one day, it was a sad moment.


According to Wikipedia, Software Etc was sold a few times over, eventually joining other video game software chains like Funco and GameStop.

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