By a unique method of electronic eavesdropping, we bring you inside the teak-panelled board room of Yuppie & Greedy, the glitzy well-known Tyson's Corner retailer. A debate on the future of the company is underway. Let's listen . . . .
James Nordstrom Yuppie: I'm telling you, J.G., we should just stand our ground. Our customers can't bear the slightest cloud on the horizons of their picture-perfect lives. One snag on the hem, and they'll junk a perfectly good sweater for a new one from Finland that costs $275. One chip in the leg, and they'll replace the old sofa bed with a new one in rosewood that runs $3,595. It worked in the '80s, baby. It'll work in this decade, too.
Joshua Peugeot Greedy: You must not be reading the papers, J.Y. Thousands laid off by U.S. Air. A.A.A. moves to Florida. Garfinckel's closes. National Bank of Washington glugs its last. Real estate agents starting to consider apples, pencils and tin cups. Those people were our mainstays, sweetheart, the darlings of the devil-may-care Zip Codes. Now, they're defaulters, not darlings -- if they haven't moved to a trailer in West Virginia.
Ralph Eagerbeaver: Mr. Yuppie, Mr. Greedy, may I offer a point or two? As the chief economic forecaster for the company, I have studied our demographics, our sales projections, even the colors of our parking lot. Gentlemen, if we don't make some changes soon, we might as well skip chapters 1 through 10 and jump all the way to Number Eleven.
Yuppie: Alarmist garbage! Retailing is a business of whims. Could the pet rock have been predicted? Was Bart Simpson soap a cinch the minute the papers were signed? We have made millions underestimating the intelligence of the typical Washington consumer, and we will make millions more the very same way. And Greedy, if you tell me one more time about how Abe Lincoln said you couldn't fool all of the people all of the time . . . .
Greedy: All I can say, Yuppie, is that they built a memorial to him, and they haven't built one to you.
Martha Marketplace: Gentlemen, please! We've never met a marketing challenge we can't handle. What we need to do is promote, promote, promote! I have a few smashing new ideas. How about one of the Hogs in ladies' lingerie?
Yuppie: They don't make slips in size 106.
Marketplace: No, no, I mean standing in the department, not standing in the garments. Think of it! A real, 300-pound, larger-than-life Redskin, shaking hands and signing autographs! Why, it's never been tried anywhere before!
(All roll their eyes)
Marketplace: And what about a promotion tie-in with a popular radio station? I've got it! A rock-and-roll car giveaway! We'll park a shockingly expensive Alfa Romeo in the middle of the mall. Every evening for a week, we'll put a disc jockey from Z-102 behind the wheel. People can schmooze with him about Top 40 hits, test out the windshield wipers, whatever they want. So-o-o-o clever. Why, it's never been tried anywhere before!
Arthur Accountant: What we need more than anything else is some creative ledger work. You recognize the risks, J.Y. and J.G. But greater financial minds than ours have found ways to cook the books. Shall I call some of the boys in New York? You know, the ones who worked for Milken and Boesky.
Greedy: I would rather face bankruptcy court than federal court.
Yuppie: Yeah, I'm not sure I have enough Percy Ellis shirts to get through a ten-week trial without wearing a couple of them more than once.
Eagerbeaver: Gentlemen, I think we need to consider a leaner, meaner store. Several of our divisions have not been performing up to snuff. Men's shoes hasn't sold anything in a month. Couples getting married don't buy crystal any more. And those Yuppie & Greedy baked beans you tried last Christmas, in the paisley cans. The warehouse may never recover.
Greedy: That was your idea, Yuppie! We said beans are beans, no matter how you dress them up. But oh-h-h-h no. Mr. Y. said Potomac will buy even the most homely items if we package them correctly.
Yuppie: And how do you explain those Giorgio Armani suits we stocked, Greedy? 'Trust me,' you told us. 'The investment bankers from McLean will buy them from us, even if we charge twice as much as Neiman-Marcus.' How many did we sell? Two. To your cousins, as I recall.
Greedy: Why, you blithering idiot! (Picks up a chair) . . . .
Yuppie: Why, you hopeless moron! (Picks up an end table) . . . .
Marketplace: Gentlemen, gentlemen, let's not be so violent! I have a brand-new idea that will see us through these admittedly difficult times. A food court! Think of it! A collection of fast food stalls in the middle of the store where shoppers can graze for whatever strikes their fancy. One will be Chinese, one will be Sbarro, one for yogurt only. Why, it's never been tried anywhere before!