And The Beep Goes On

Josie Leavitt - October 31, 2011

Yesterday the store’s inventory was counted. This is an hours long procedure involving eight trained people from the inventory counting company. Our fiscal year is a flexible thing, so we can get inventory done when it works for us. And what worked this year was the day before Halloween.
I awoke to a sore throat and snow; it’s not every day I have to be at work at 6:45 a.m. Before the inventory I went to the bagel place and got a dozen bagels and a “Brew for the Crew.” It just seemed like the most civilized way for these eight people to start counting all my books, toys and games. Each worker came in wearing their gear: a belt pack with a key pad that hooks into a finger scanner. The scanner beeps every time an item is scanned. That’s what I called the happy beep. Then there’s the honk it makes when it scans something that’s not in your inventory.
Getting organized for inventory takes a ton of work. It’s a nightmare for me because it forces me to deal with my hidden corners of, well, crap. I am put in a position of deciding what to with all the books, toys, games, cards, etc. What do we want counted? Obviously, all the books, but do we really need a count of the three magazines we sell monthly that are just automatically replaced? Um, not so much.
The beauty of doing inventory now is we will know exactly where everything for the holidays. So, when a customer comes in looking for that obscure history book and we can’t find it, we turn to the Missing Book Locator and look it up by ISBN and it will tell precisely where to find that book. I must say, after 15 years of bookselling, there is nothing more satisfying than being the magician pulling the rabbit out of the hat for some happy customer.
The folks doing the inventory were amazingly fast. So I heard lots of beeps from all the parts of the store. In two hours they had counted over 7,000 items. And once they were all fully awake, they just flew. Really, it was kind of mind-boggling.
I know I’m paying these folks, but I’m full of gratitude that they can come in and in just a few hours tell me what my whole inventory is. And the coffee stayed hot until they were done.

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