Staying The Course

The Associated Press recently reported that “…some 3.6 million jobs have disappeared so far in a deepening recession, which is shaping up as the biggest job killer in the post-World War II period … Battered by the recession, employers slashed a net 598,000 jobs in January [2009], the most since 1974, the Labor Department reported Friday [2/6/09].  The jobless rate surged from 7.2 percent in December to 7.6 percent, and economists and government officials all agreed the toll was certain to go higher … The jobs lost so far since the recession began in December 2007 are the most of any downturn in the post-war period.  About half the losses occurred just in the past three months.  Layoffs this month are likely to be just as bad.  And job seekers’ prospects aren’t likely to become noticeably better until 2011 — at the earliest.”
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Retailers around the world are feeling the impact of this economic collapse.  Store closings and business failures dominate the news.  Suppliers are struggling to not only find the right product for the new consumer mindset, but also scurrying to find adequate distribution for their product.  Yesterday’s top account is likely to be tomorrow’s worst nightmare.
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Yet some companies buck the trend.  Their product offerings are unique and differentiated, and, more importantly, they have maintained their rigid distribution requirements.
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Why are some companies like Tony Walker & Co still thriving amidst this chaos?  For starters, let’s look at the different type of personalities [along with their unique strategies] that emerge in difficult times like these:

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1.  The panic-stricken.  They will do anything to get to tomorrow, but they have no future and they know it.  In fact, they announce it.  They are expedient in every way.  They believe everything they hear and they repeat it all [misery loves company].  They’ll cut costs, slash prices, reduce their staff, liquidate inventory, and prepare for the inevitable.  Every relationship is compromised.  Ultimately, they get what they deserve, but not before they damage everything around them.
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2.  The miser.  Finally, their strategy pays off.  They’ve been waiting for this moment so they can gloat.  Of course the world has already passed them by, but they will weather the storm.  Their bunker is rock solid.  Innovation is the enemy.  In fact, they blame it all on innovation and risk.
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3.  The vulture.  There’s money to be made on the troubles of others.  They never build, but they serve a purpose.  These are the best of times for them.
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4.  The innovator.  Yes, times are tough, but for the innovator it just means clear sailing with less competition and reduced costs of entry.  In good times and in bad, the innovator prospers.  It’s just a tacking issue.  The best merchants, the best brands, and the best businesses will always find a way to prosper – that’s why they are the best.  They are prepared for any and all contingencies.  They are the root.
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At the Advantage, we are uniquely prepared for times like these.  Innovation and creativity are in our DNA.  Additionally, we have prepared for this economic collapse by diversifying and building up our cash reserves.  We are continuing to develop our new operations and categories.  Jewelry, footwear, and apothecary will all receive an expanded retail presence this year.  Our growth is right on schedule.  We are looking to all our suppliers to enhance our experience.
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So, where does that leave you?  And, when it comes right down to it, who do you want to be sitting with?
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Let us know what you think.  We look forward to building with you.  In the meantime, please don’t compromise your brand’s future and our relationship with expedience.
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Sincerely,

Tony Walker

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From: Ariana Ragusa
To: tony@theadvantage.com
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008
Subject: RE: Staying the course.

Very interesting.  A million different images and points of reference come to mind.  Aristotle described his teleological system of philosophy by using the analogy of the tree and the acorn – everything has a purpose, everything in nature has an end or telos for which it is most fitted.  Man’s telos or end is happiness and this can only be achieved when men join together in a community in pursuit of the common good.  Final happiness is contemplation of the divine.  Hegel uses the same imagery of the tree and its fruition in the introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit.  Nietzsche says that abstract man without myth digs frantically for roots.  Descartes compares his entire system of philosophy to a tree where the roots are metaphysics, the trunk physics, and the branches the practical sciences.  And at the root is the self-evident principle, “I think, therefore I am.”  From this the tree can grow into one unified science.  Then when you get to Deleuze, who is crazy, he is anti-root, anti-purpose, but that is a destructive story best left untold!

And worldview, you can’t have phenomenology with out this concept.  It is pretty much the turning point in philosophy.  It outdoes logic, math, deductive reasoning, and the scientific method because in the end these “certain” sciences are also the product of worldview.  As Herder says, “we live in a world we ourselves create.” – Logic is no exception.

Overall it is a very thought provoking website!  Very phenomenological!

I can’t help but to also mention that although Pandora’s Box is a beautiful and beguiling story, both bitter and sweet, it also reinforces the idea perpetuated in the Adam and Eve story that women are the cause of evil.  So, in that sense, feminists deride it as being a particularly patriarchal story.  But, of course, that is just one reading of it.  Feminists error in believing that myths are determinate, for in truth they can never be wholly defined as one thing.  A myth, like a symbol, is open to infinite interpretation, though the feminist perspective is valuable as one interpretation.

I look forward to reading more!  It is inspiring.

Ariana

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