My New “Worst Enemy”
January 27, 2011

There’s a disturbing trend in the retail world.   It’s not new, but it looks like it is becoming more pervasive in the stores that I frequent.   I first noticed it at Toys R Us stores in 2009 , but now I am seeing it at some of my local Targets as well. 

  I don’t know if this "device" has a real name or not.  If it does I’d love to know what it is.    I call it "the shopper stopper," and what it is, is a little rubber grommet that fits on a shelf peg and keeps the minimal stock that the store has have pushed forward to give the "illusion" of full pegs worth of product.   Literally there will be one figure on the peg pushed forward. 

 

But it’s a shame, a facade and not a very good one at that.  And in this age of  recessions, and stores struggling to make projected sales it just seems lazy and dumb.

Is it really easier to put one figure on a peg and push it forward than to order new product and actually have your pegs full of product people want to buy?

 

I’ve seen these at multiple stores in several states.  These were everywhere at several Toys R Us’ that I visited during the holiday season.

I’d love to hear the retailers explanation for these.  I can only assume that this is to help cut down on "facing" at the end of the night.   "Facing" for those of you not familiar with the term is an activity that some retailers have their departments do each night after the store closes.  The employees go around the store and pull all of the stock forward on the shelves and pegs from what has sold that day.   The also sort, rehang, reset, restock and refold everything in the department for the next day.  Just "facing" your product is not the same as having products, but I guess if stores think it saves time so the closing employees don’t have to touch each peg in each section then this practice will continue.

Personally I think a more robust and accurate inventory system that placed orders for needed stock when quantities were low would be a better investment than these stopper.

That’s why it boggles my mind.

Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.

 

 

 

18 Comments »

  • Neonlexicon says:

    It’s just a simple presentation standpoint. I actually work at Target & the grommets are used for just the purpose you describe. When items sell down, you push it forward to bring the product to the front of the peg where it can be seen. I know a dedicated collector will rummage through everything, but from a retail standpoint, an item is more likely to sell if it’s right up front. (A lot of the pegs also tend to be slightly angled & cause product to slide to the back, which the grommets help prevent.) Aside from some grocery items, most stores don’t individually order items. It’s all done through computers. An item sells & it triggers it into the system. If the distribution center has it available to replenish the store, it’s sent out. It usually takes 3+ days to get an item back in once it’s sold out in the store (but, only if it’s currently available from distribution. I say this because I’m a poor schmuck who collects Monster High dolls. I feel Mattel is at fault there, as they only come in about once a month.)

  • Kevfett says:

    Time saved facing at the end of the night means the store needs less people to go around and do the facing. So maybe the companies can make more profit by reducing payroll. They probably don’t care if it’s rather insulting to the actual customers.

    I say we should do what my cat does when I try to sneak a medicine pill in her food. Eat around it and drop the pill on the floor in front of her food bowl. In other words slide the device off, place it on the shelf below and push the figures to the back of the pegs :)

    and maybe cough up a hairball…

  • puckace says:

    Amen! I hate those things. Four pegs of MU and only four Iron Men on them. It’s just nuts. Target is the worst offender around here.

    puckace

  • Shellhead says:

    See this a lot at Targets in my area. Not so much as Walmart or TRU.

  • SDTB says:

    goddamn that makes me mad!!

  • Darkseid says:

    I thought the problem would be the absolutely weird price of $6.04.

  • Batman says:

    This is not a big deal at all (or even a little deal). It’s just a way of “facing” and keeping things looking full until new product comes. It doesn’t replace ordering or keep them from paying for a “more robust and accurate inventory system”.

  • Joe Acevedo says:

    I always push those things to the back.

  • demoncat says:

    i agree that those things are a pain for just shows that the stores to give their workers something to do and proably sadly till they get a chance to restock or get a new ship ment in. use those pegs to make it so the shelves keep looking well stocked.

  • Gagagator says:

    I think they are great. It keeps the pegs more organized looking…and it also preserves the hanger on the blister carded figures. I work at a guitar shop, and the reality of the slow economy we are in is that stores are cutting back on purchasing products because sales are severely down. Buying more stock just to appear well stocked is idiotic. Also, my wife has told me that she likes them too, because she can spot the product she is looking from down the aisle. In my opinion it’s a non-issue.

  • Treklander says:

    I don’t think the discs are a problem.
    the real problem is that they just don’t put enough stock in to begin with so even when they just get a new shipment the pegs are half empty
    with way too many of some and not enough of others.

  • Joe Public says:

    Seriously? Who cares?

    Go kill the heart of Wal-mart or somethin’ if it really bothers you enough to write an article about this.

    But seriously, you know what they need to get rid of? Bottom shelves.

    I mean, who the hell likes bending over to look at something….Those things need to go to….

  • Vincent says:

    Everything in a retail store is supposed to be pulled forward, even if it’s just 1 thing on a 10 inch peg or on a huge shelf. It has nothing to do with understocking. It’s a time saving measure for the store, not some big scam to pull the wool over our eyes.

  • Jim says:

    I do not know if they have an official name, we have always called them “pac-men” and I have always pushed them back and do not believe I have ever actually used them.

    • Batman says:

      Ok, now that’s far more annoying than the peg things IMO. The store wants it that way, and you have to make a mess (even a small one) because it bothers you? And yes, it is a mess if it then has to be fixed by employees.

  • Howard the Duck says:

    These little ‘shopper stoppers’ don’t bug me so much. Placing (for example) a Batman Brave and the Bold or Spider-Man figure on an empty JLU peg to make it look ‘stocked’ absolutely bothers me.

    And I correct it whenever I notice it.

  • retailemployee says:

    Really? This is worth complaining about? They’re called “I.C. Clips” (inventory control clips) and they’re used to keep merchandise fronted on the pegs… mostly because it simply looks neater that way. It’s also been an industry standard for decades, so you’re a little late with this lame mini rant. Maybe you should just complain about the pegs being empty instead, and skip the whole “worst enemy” thing entirely.

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