Take Care of Your (S)elf

Christine, standing second from left, during Wonder Works’ annual kickoff to the holidays


Is there any place busier during the holidays than a toy store?

No, we couldn’t think of one either. The bad news is that your biggest and best selling-season is also, probably, your most stressful, especially when you’re the one driving the train, leading the show, and making holiday magic for your community. The good news is that the “crazy” condition is only temporary. So fear not! Most of you have done this before and you’ll do it again even better this year.

At Wonder Works, we’ve found that being prepared is half the battle, so every September we hold a Holiday Pump-Up Session. This mandatory attendance meeting for all employees is a great opportunity to lay out expectations for the coming months ahead, and take care of some housekeeping. Afterwards, the staff feels recharged and ready to tackle the upcoming season.

Here are some of the items we review and discuss at the Holiday Pump-Up.

Sales expectations

By sharing the sales figures that will pump through our stores during this extremely important season, I empower my staff to make it happen.

Top toys for the holiday season

This part, with product reps in attendance, is the most fun.

Pivotal procedures

Here are the ones that are crucial at Wonder Works.

• Our layaway procedure

• The procedures for transferring merchandise among our four stores

• Theft protocol

• Price-matching protocol

Tips for staying safe and healthy 

We brush-up on our safety protocol, like the procedure for climbing step ladders to stock merchandise. I also provide flu shot information.

Ultimate customer service and upselling tips, plus marketing and merchandising plans

In addition to presenting our fourth-quarter marketing plan and promotions, we go over an outline of our Neighborhood Toy Store Day event. In addition, we discuss information to share with customers regarding our online store, and go over the customer collateral materials we’ve mailed, which are also available in-store.

Season-specific housekeeping items

We remind staff to attend “morning huddles” to review events, promotions and new products. Regular communication can fall by the wayside when the store is crowded and busy. We also review our special fourth-quarter dress code.

Lead by example

According to Wonder Works’ store managers, “Take care of yourself” is the number-one mantra for the fourth quarter. It refers to everyone’s physical and mental health. By practicing what we preach, we encourage the staff to follow suit.

Our take-care-of-yourself list 

• Get enough sleep.

• Eat healthy and stay hydrated. I facilitate it by keeping nutritious snacks and drinks in the staff break areas.

• Take a break and walk outside. Look up and breathe. Oxygen will clear your thinking.

• Take a day off to rest.

• Make time to exercise!

• Wear comfortable clothing and footwear.

• Recognize that the madness is short-lived.

• Laugh it off when you become overwhelmed.

• Never forget that the holiday season is about making a difference in your customers’ lives.

Why Not Laugh?

Recent studies by Mental Health America reveal that joy and satisfaction can boost your ability to deal with stress, solve problems, think flexibly and even fight disease. Laughter can decrease pain and may help your heart and lungs; it also promotes muscle relaxation and can reduce anxiety. If you need some reasons to laugh, or to generate positive thoughts, consider these tips from MHA.

• Do something you loved to do as a kid, like run through the sprinklers, hang from the monkey bars, or make a mess with finger paints.

• Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Bake a soufflé, build a tree house or learn to knit. Take a class or look for a local group. Socializing is mentally healthy, too.

• Watch or listen to comedy, or read the comics.

• Get a therapeutic massage. It relieves muscle tension, stimulates the body’s natural painkillers and boosts your immune system.

• Take a nature break. Walking in or even just looking at nature calms our nerves and relieves mental fatigue.

• Meditate.

by Christine Osborne, Wonder Works Toy Stores, wonderworkstoys.com

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