The Story of the Ugly Display

The Story of the Ugly Display

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

How Do You Perceive Things?

Image by Stuart Miles at
Some of you know that I work part time in a grocery store. I work every Friday, Saturday and Sunday which makes it near impossible on the weekends to get anything I want done online. I work crazy hours, and half the time one of my managers can’t comprehend time management and why I would need my schedule earlier than a week in advance. But I digress. This isn’t about her. It’s actually about two other managers at this same store. And before I tell this tale, pretend with me for a moment that this is the good cop/bad cop scenario.

Our store manager is often referred to as the “bad” cop. No, he isn’t a bad manager. He’s just always (and I really mean ALWAYS) in the most terrible mood. You say, “Good morning” and his response is always a guaranteed, “Get back to work.” He never smiles. He’s never chipper. And he absolutely hates it when you bother him for anything especially if a customer is in need of assistance.
Then there are two assistant store managers, but we’re only going to be talking about one. He is the complete opposite of the store manager, and we’ll refer to him as the “good cop.” He is a hard worker willing to get down and dirty to make sure the store is spotless and perfect at all times. He gives people hi fives, motivational pep talks and always reminds us of when we’ve done a good job or how we can improve. Being around him makes you contagiously happy!
One day, the good cop was putting up a beautiful display. He had some can goods perfectly displayed and looking insanely beautiful. Just as he was finishing with the last few cans, the bad cop came up and said, “It’s never going to sell.” Fed up with the negative attitude, the good cop said, “Why not? It looks amazing, and I have worked very hard on this!” The bad cop said, “The customers will not want to touch anything that is too beautiful that looks as if they will mess it up. They will not buy a single item. But if you are convinced you are right, then let’s have a contest.”
“What kind of contest?” said the good cop.
“Well, let’s leave the display up for two weeks. If customers buy a majority of this product, we’ll start doing things your way. But if the display remains mostly untouched, you’ll tear it down and do things my way.” The good cop agreed, and two weeks went by and hardly a can sold.
Reluctantly the good cop, took down the display and listened to the bad cop. The bad cop put out these bins and had the good cop fill the bins with the cans in a pile. Boy, it was ugly! They placed a simple sign that told the current price, and the product was sold out within the week.
“How did you know that the product on my display wouldn’t sell?” asked the good cop.
“It’s simple,” said the bad cop. “By making things messy, you have made the product easy for someone to touch meaning that they can claim ownership. They are comfortable sifting through a pile of stuff rather than touching something that could fall or mess up something beautiful. Therefore, people won’t mind to buy something that they can hold, messy or not.” The good cop never questioned the leadership of the bad cop again, and the two continue to work together side by side. So my question to my readers is what is the lesson you have learned from the good cop and bad cop story?  And was the bad cop really as bad as originally thought?
Image by Master isolated images at

Leave a Reply