A lesson in supply and demand
Leada DeVaney, Editor
Years ago, I took a job at a Birmingham department store. It was a store that sold only women's clothing, shoes and jewelry. They store hired mostly young, college-aged girls, probably because they knew we'd spend most of our paychecks on their clothes.
And we did, or at least I did. I had tons of new clothes that summer, but little to show in the way of a paycheck.
The interesting thing about the store was that it was in a mall that was being renovated. Other than our store, the mall was completely empty – no carpet, few lights and no other stores. And while we had lots of shoppers, we had lots of people who thought our store was a perfect place to practice their five-finger discount skills, meaning we had lots of shop lifters.
We had one man who would pull up in front of the store in his BMW, open the door and reach in and grab a bunch of dresses and drive off. All us girls just looked at him.
Exasperated with the stealing and with our apparent lack of ability to nab the thieves, the store hired security. The security guard was a nice lady named Judy who spent most of her time shopping for clothes. She told us she had a gun in her purse, but I doubt a $3 T-shirt was worth shooting someone over.
We had a meeting about shoplifting and what we should do if we saw someone who was stealing.
"You need to go after them once they leave the store," the store manager said.
"I am not running into the mall after someone," my co-worker whispered to me. "I wear heels. You can't run in heels."
I nodded in agreement.
The whole shop-lifting trend came to a head one night when me and two other girls were working in the juniors section. We were standing around talking when a lady came up and asked us for some shopping bags, explaining she had some packages she wanted to put all together.
We handed her the plastic kind of bags.
"Do you have any of those large bags, the kind with handles," she asked.
We dug her some out.
"Thanks," she brightly said and went on her way.
About 10 minutes later, we heard Judy yelling.
"Stop her! Stop her!," she yelled as she made her way through the racks.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman running through the store, shopping bags in hand. They were the nice kind of shopping bags, too, the kind with handles, not the cheap plastic kind.
We watched Judy and the lady run out the store into the vacant mall. She outran Judy, who was, in her defense, wearing a skirt.
"Was that the same lady we gave the bags to?" my coworker asked.
"I think so," I replied. "Maybe we should keep that to ourselves, though."