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Long Lines in Retail
04.22.11

While I was in New York, I noticed a very odd phenomenon. In the morning, there would be huge lines (almost out the door) of places like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. At lunchtime, there would also be long lines -- here's one for the takeout section for Southwest NY:

 

As you can see in this picture, there's quite a line out the door for this place. So the question is, why?

These types of things drive me kind of nuts, frankly. As a business, it's really hard to develop a product people want to pay money for and then it's really hard to get the word out that you even exist. Here, both have clearly been solved and the problem is... hiring people? To cook food and take customers' money?
 
It's baffling to me. I know a bunch of businesses that are run this way. Home Depot is a great example of an amazing company that consistently has too few cashier personnel. Bed Bath & Beyond on a weekend is frightening in terms of length of lines to check out. Even supermarkets around here late at night like Ralph's are just woefully understaffed. Why?! These are some of the easiest people to hire for and it's like destroying money but not managing this well.

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