My career at Clicks spanned close to four decades when I started as a Trainee Manager way back in 1974, we had then 18 stores in total !
I have great memories of working at Clicks and would like to share them with you.
At the opening of the old Wynberg store my duties were to cut-case and price mark opening specials at the “stamping bay”. Lux soap was one of the specials and I price marked every bar of soap. The stock sold out so fast that only after a couple of hours I managed to keep abreast of sales. I certainly learned how to mark and cut-case!
Once Martin Susskind asked me to buy an Earthen stacking coffee mug from one of our competitors and have it dropped off at Head Office for his attention. He called the next day and said to me “Mr. Goldin is waiting for the coffee mug”. I immediately went to buy one and delivered it then and there. Our Price-Beat policy and slogan against other retailers is “You pay less at Clicks” and such was Mr. Goldin’s determination and be the cheapest. This was my welcome to the real world of discounting and knowing what our competitors were doing.
When I was appointed as a Buyer in 1983 the process was rather quite simple; Mr. Goldin called me to his office, congratulated me. He said, “The three most important tasks of a good Buyer are 1) ask 2) ask and 3) ask”. He explained what he meant, the Buyer’s job was to ask and get the best deals, prices, trading terms, advertising allowance, store opening specials, price increase extensions and so on and on. Mr Goldin then said to me “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get.”
At a Buyer’s meeting Mr. Goldin requested that the following minutes be taken down about supplier meetings (a) Be punctual for appointments (b) Be friendly, but not too friendly (c) Never talk politics, religion or unions (d) Don’t show how clever you are – be a “poker player” (e) Keep deals simple. These simple lessons were like pearls of wisdom.
Clicks was the sole distributor of Maxine’s* Cosmetics in South Africa and after a fall-out with the supplier our relationship soured severely. Mr. Goldin, to teach them a lesson, decided to mark down the entire Maxine’s range to R1.00 each. The stock sold out within a few days. He was an entrepreneur in every sense of the word, radical at times, but certainly a great risk-taker.
Mr. Goldin had an enduring fixation for certain “things” such as always being in stock of globes. He knew that every household used globes! He came up with an idea of having alternate suppliers for the globe ranges. If one supplier was out of stock, then you could order it from the alternate supplier and make sure that you were always in stock. Heaven forbid if now you were out of stock of globes. Mr. Goldin possessed great ingenuity and was much ahead of his time.
Another one of Mr. Goldin’s favourites that almost became an obsession. Clicks was the only retailer to stock Tabac men’s fragrances other than pharmacies and department stores. Mr. Goldin visited fairly often our Claremont Store and the first thing he did was to check whether the Tabac range was in-stock. Managers usually knew of his impromptu visits. It was common practice among store managers to alert each other of his visits and whereabouts. Inter-branches were speedily done and stock obtained from nearby stores. This ensured that every line was in stock before his arrival.
At Christmas time Head Office allocated a senior staff to each store to help during the Festive Season. The late Peter Watts, of blessed memory, was allocated to my store. On this particular day we had worked hard and decided to have a quick bite. Three Anchor Bay, with a predominantly Jewish clientele, was not particularly busy over the Christmas period and lunchtime was not as hectic as in many of the other stores. Whilst we were eating, drinking and talking the office door opened unexpectedly . There stood Mr. Goldin staring at both of us. He had caught us red-handed eating, talking over lunchtime during Christmas and in the office. He said to us “by all means you are both entitled to take a lunch break, but there must always be a Senior Staff member on the floor “. His systems were simple, logical and down-to-earth!
I have worked with truly outstanding, inspiring and talented people both inside and outside the organisation. Clicks is characterised by rapid and continuous change and at times it has been an emotional roller coaster. It is the good times at Clicks that will live eternally in my memory.
Clicks has been like a family and a home to me and the thought of working for any other company has never crossed my mind. As much as I would like to single out specific individuals, the list would be endless and possibly put you to sleep. Your names and memories will always stay engraved in my heart. I sincerely appreciate the friendship, trust and support extended during my service at Clicks. It has been an honour and privilege to work with every one of you.
Matteo Coné with Clicks from 1974 to 2010