Friday, November 4, 2011

Macy’s and Gimbels Revisited

Hopefully, most of you will be familiar with the 1947 Christmas classic film Miracle on 34th Street. In it, a very young Natalie Woods plays a child who has been taught by her mother not believe in Santa Claus. However, when Kris Kringle himself takes over as the Macy’s Santa, she comes to believe in him and therefore Santa Claus. This belief is the miracle at the heart of the story.

I took away another miracle within the story at a very young age. At one point, Kris Kringle tells a mother that Gimbels has the toy her child wants for Christmas when Macy’s does not. At first, the store management is upset, but when the woman declares that she will always be a loyal customer because of this act of referral and publicity goes in Macy’s favor, Kris is hailed as a genius. I think this is as good as it gets in the miracle department.

About ten years ago, I opened a consignment shop and I made this a habit of mine – sending customers to other consignment shops that I knew carried what they wanted. My parents, who have been in the antique business for nearly 25 years, do the same thing.

First, it just makes sense. If you don’t have what the customer wants but know who does, why wouldn’t you tell them? For fear they’ll find the other competitor? So? The next time they are looking for something they are far more likely to come to your place first because they know you’ll refer them elsewhere if you don’t have it.

Second, it’s the right thing to do. I believe if I live my life always at least trying to do the right thing, more often than not, I will manage it.

So, why am I revisiting this old film now? Because I’m concerned by what I see as competitors nipping at each other’s heels on Twitter, specifically writers – probably because that’s my thing.

To be brutally honest, there are many thousands of writers on Twitter right now, all pursuing the same basic dream, many of whom have been inspired by John Locke’s success story – selling 1 million eBooks in 5 months. We all want to be the next Locke – plucked from the many and settled down into our own private dreams, usually a variation of this one – a worry-free, monied existence, finally able to write to our heart’s content rather than work for someone else in a day job. We want this so bad it hurts.

Non-writers out there are begging for the same opportunity – financial freedom. Twitter is the portal to this golden world. Pen a bunch of yearning dreamers up in a confined space like Twitter and you’re bound to get a few scratches and in-fights.

But here’s the thing. We will not all make it. Some will. Some won’t. I contend that “It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game.” – a famous but unattributed quote. Going back to the film, it was when both stores – Macy’s and Gimbels – rose above themselves and began to cross-refer that they both did well.

So, here’s what I propose. When we are lucky enough to find a great writer or fantastic product or funny blogger – or whatever – let’s go out of our way to help promote it or them. Retweet their messages or do an original tweet about it yourself. In that manner, we all do better.

In the end, we live or die as a group anyway. If Twitter remains a positive force, people will hang on to it, help it grow. If it withers away from a plethora of criticisms and negativity, we all lose.

Through lifting each other up, we perform our own miracles every day.

PS - you will find this same post on both my blogs. I want it to reach as many readers as possible.


  1. That's a beautiful sentiment. I hope it's taken to heart.

  2. Wonderful post, Kathy. The good news is there are a number of fellow writers who help one another. Some help without expectation. I have great respect for those who do that.

    It's passive marketing and it will come back to you in other kindnesses and people will look at your works. Now that's not the reason some do it. It is just people being helpful and kind.

    I do hope this catches on. I have met so many nice and talented writer on Twitter. It's like having them over for dinner and it warms my heart.

    BTW. You're one of them!

  3. Thanks, Dannie - you are also one of the many I know who do give first and certainly without expectation. To me there's as much joy in turning a reader on to another writer's great book as having someone like mine.

    Every once in awhile I notice a batch of judgements or negative comments on Twitter that make me think the Tweeter doesn't get it. There's enough stuff out in the Universe already. I love it when we lift everyone up a bit by sending out the good vibes - taking care of each other a bit.

    I know I'm a bit of a Pollyanna, though.

    Love that you always stop by. Thanks Dannie.

  4. I agree. I had a second-hand shop for a few years and we used to send people to the other two shops in town if we didn't buy or sell something the customer was asking about. The other shops did it too.

    When I changed to a bookshop I went first to the library and the head librarian was awful to me. She wanted me to charge for everything the library offered for free and didn't like the idea of a bookstore in town at all (since Borders closed I have the only bookstore in a 150 mile radius). I still don't understand her reaction, I'd known her for years and now we don't talk. But I still refer people to the library if I know they have a book I don't carry!

  5. Love this. Love the movie as well. I have always felt this way. Anytime I have been in the business world I have followed this practice. People remember, and the appreciate it. Thank you for sharing this.!/ScaryStockings

  6. Amen you wonderful woman! It always feels good to help others and you do get paid back...with friends. I'm a bandwagon-er on this train of yours, for sure. Great post, as always! :D

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  8. I agree completely with your thinking Kathy. We are all putting one step in front of the other towards our dreams but it is when we naturally give another a helping hand that magic happens. Everyone has a unique gift to bring to this world. 'A rising tide raises all ships'....thank you for this post.

  9. As a fellow writer;and a John Locke reader, I wonder if soon Twitter will be totally overwhelmed by would be writers all posting blogs which subtly advertise their indie books? I know I've done it and I know lots of others who've done it too.

    Are we creating a market buying each other's books and failing to reach those who read and have no aspirations to authorship?

    Maybe that will happen, but if, on the way, you read some good material and have some fun - does it matter?

  10. Enjoyable and uplifting blog... It's very reassuring to hear such sentiments - I find it also works when driving, btw... If I let out a couple of people, or stop to allow a mum safely cross the road, I nearly always find a parking space without any trouble.