The Identity Crisis Is Here


There are two interesting sociological business  stories passing around through business circles today.

The first is, family owned general stores in the communities of Vermont and elsewhere in New England are closing one by one.  The paradox is that it's the very place in the US where a great amount of effort was spent denying retail access to big box stores like Walmart.

Their customers are falling, one by one, to the lure of having everything they could ever want at their disposal through Amazon.

The second is that Sears, gasping for air for years, and that continues on the brink of bankruptcy, has decided to begin selling its appliance brand, Kenmore, on Amazon.

Meanwhile, the Sears' news caused the stock of Home Depot and Lowe's to have a significant drop.

Business continues to become more and more non-personal.

Henry S. Miller opened his real estate brokerage firm in Dallas in 1914, and with his name continuing on the door, built it into one of the largest independently owner firms in America. 

American retail businesses and service businesses are fast becoming nothing more than brokerage businesses. There is no Stanley Marcus continuing the pride of ownership of Neiman-Marcus. Mr. Sears and Mr. Roebuck have long been gone, even Henry S. Miller no longer looks over the company he built.

In the latter part of May, Patty and I visited a store that sells flooring.  The salesman came about five days later to measure the room we wanted re-floored.  He works on commission. He's contract labor.  He went back to the store where they ordered the materials from a supplier.  The supplier delivered the boxes of flooring to our house, never coming close to the store where we had initiated the purchase.

A few days later, a subcontractor installer of the store came to put in our new floor.  After he was 80% finished, he realized that he was short the material necessary to complete the job. The salesman has mismeasured.

He went back to the store, where they ordered more.  About a week later, the supplier delivered the boxes to our house.  Four days later, the installer returned to complete the job. 

It was then that he discovered that the transition had been done incorrectly, and he could not complete the job. He reported the problem to the store, who by the way, was also the store whose tile installer had done that installation incorrectly.

The store not only took no responsibility for the problem, but also took no interest in fixing it so that the current job could be completed.

By now, more than one month had passed since we went to the store to select a product. I sent the final check to the store with a note that I would finish the installation myself. No response came from them.

What businesses have concluded is that by not having permanent employees, but contract labor and commissioned salespeople, they are not responsible for those non-employees' contributions to the customer.

When was the last time you went into a grocery store, Walmart, Target, or the many other stores and saw the store manager on the floor interacting with customers? 

It hasn't happened, because the store doesn't want the manager identified other than by a name. At that point the ownership would become responsible for customer one else to blame.

They don't want there manager to know how displeased you are when you are standing in an endless line at one of the two or three open cash wraps because he would rather inconvenience you rather than have sufficient $8.00 an hour employees to make your visit an enjoyable one.

Real estate brokerage is becoming more and more a clone of the Walmart style rather than that of a Henry S. Miller.


<<== Texas Gov. Greg Abbott


For an example, the Texas Real Estate Commission proposed a licensing modification, and it was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.  Here it is:

A licensed sales person no longer has to identify the name of the broker whose license he represents; further, he no longer has to identify on signs, ads, web sites, and the like, which real estate company holds his license.

It seems to me to be akin to the big box stores keeping their management from easy access to the customer. Everyone is now loosely connected.


        Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Reuben

However, Neiman-Marcus' Dallas NorthPark store's manager, Malcolm  Reuben, follows the great Stanley Marcus' management style.  You'll find him on the store's floors for major parts throughout the day, easily identified by his impeccable style and his name tag proudly displayed on his suit jacket.

Try to figure out who the manager of Nordstrom, Dillard's or Macey's is.

Or how about this:  You're a longtime client of one of the franchise real estate brokerage firms. Do you know who the managing broker is?


Since 1966

214 503-8563




Comment balloon 17 commentsBILL CHERRY • July 21 2017 06:03PM


Bill it is a sad commentary that so many businesses simple don't take ownership anymore. Sorry about your flooring debacle - that is terrible service and it should have been guaranteed 100% correct. Fortunately our governor has not changed the rules on identifying who one works for. Why in heavens name did TX do that? What purpose does it serve & what 'good' will come from it?

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten Broker/Owner, CRB, CRS, 602-380-4886 (Phoenix Property Shoppe) over 2 years ago

I played the piano about a year ago at a party that was thrown by one of Gov. Abbott's close friends.  I found him charming, and I liked him vcery much.

Then he started doing what I think is dumb stuff.  I don't know what's driving that.  None of the things I have found odd are in the b est interest of the public.

Thanks for your comment, Anna Banana!

Posted by BILL CHERRY, Broker & Wealth Coach (Bill Cherry, Realtor) over 2 years ago

Sad to see mom and pop go by the waysaide and jsut wait when the internet group needs something today and ther is no store front for them to get it right away, then they will know,.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 2 years ago

Bill- it's so frustrating for any consumer these days to try to reach the PTB of an organization. We get directed in so many different directions and I have a feeling that the purpose is to wear us out. 

I am so sorry that you had to go through what you did with your flooring. 

And growing up in Houston we had a wonderful Neiman Marcus downtown. The service was always excellent!

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

That mentality has seeped into individuals too, BILL CHERRY ... few people ever admit to errors or take responsibility for them.  Of course on the flip side of the coin, few people allow anyone to be less than perfect or make human errors.   Both sides of this issue could be greatly improved upon ...

Great food for thought here, Bill ...




                                           FEATURED IN BANANATUDE!

                                     CONGRATULATIONS!  WELL DONE! 



Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) over 2 years ago

                              Thank you  BILL CHERRY 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

BILL CHERRY I am pleased Kathy Streib elected to highlight your post today. I had missed it. Super observations and interesting what Governor Abbott has done. I like it!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc.) over 2 years ago

Good morning BILL CHERRY,

I'm so glad to see your post featured in Kathy Streib "Ah-ha" moments for the week! I think it's appalling what the store did to would never happen at some of the stores here that I recommend. Never heard of such a business model and is not right or fair to the consumer! You should have been covered!Many businesses are becoming less personal and it is a shame. We are still required to have our Broker on everything and I'm glad we do. Our leader at our NW Austin office is the best, very visible and always steps to the post to help and do the right thing every time!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 2 years ago

Good morning Bill. It is a very sad state that no one takes responsibility.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 2 years ago

I saw your post thanks to Kathys wrap up....great job!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 2 years ago

Fantastic commentary Bill.   Indeed you are correct in your observations.   

So in Texas,  you can probably get away with practicing real estate without a license since no one is minding the store....

Posted by Linda Metallo DiBenardo (RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois) over 2 years ago

Hi Bill

That flooring situation was simply inexcusable and a despicable way for a vendor to handle a customer - wonder how long they will be in business?

Sadly, we are seeing more and more of what you describe, and yet when we come across a wonderful business and custmer service experience, it is such a joy!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) over 2 years ago

The picture of that store is a testament to wonderful days gone bye.  We have similar things going on here as well.  For years, I frequented a little hardware store in nearby Old Town Fair Oaks.  I went there to buy a cast iron Dutch oven to take camping.  The price seemed hefty and I gave up on the idea. However, was able to purchase the same product via Amazon, for half the price.  I wish I knew a perfect solution to keep these little stores up and running.  Alas, I do not.  

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 2 years ago

Those who still offer service and who are accessible will win. That flooring fiasco is an example of what NOT to do...  Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 2 years ago

Very sad and we are seeing it here too. However, my grocery store does have the manager on the floor and everyone knows him because he has been there for a very long time, well over 20 years. 

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 2 years ago

Bill, let's all try to resurrect the simple act of giving great customer service, one-by-one. I will not falter, I do not love big box stores, I am a proponent of great customer service and fill out all of the those darned surveys when I feel that the minions who are actually making the world turn need to have some accolades! 

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) over 2 years ago

I give the best real estate service that I can.  Far better, I promise, than most of those who I have co-oped with. I fall over and fix their terrible representation of their client who is their co-op person with me.  But more than that, the ethics violations that they clobber is the really sad note.    But then I'm old school, so I have to make out like it's OK, I guess.

Posted by BILL CHERRY, Broker & Wealth Coach (Bill Cherry, Realtor) over 2 years ago

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