Obvious Adams – Chapter 6

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Adams went. He went directly to a hotel when he struck town, registered, and left his grip. Then he looked up the addresses of the two Monarch stores. Twenty minutes later he had found one store, located on the corner of two prominent streets, with a prominent entrance and display windows on both streets. The other store he found three-quarters of an hour later, right on Market Street, the main retail- store street of the city, also located on a corner.

But Adams was surprised, when he found the store, to discover that he had passed it three times while he was looking for it! He stood on the opposite corner and looked at the store. It had only a very narrow front on Market Street, but a very large display window on the intersecting-street side. He stood thinking. It struck him that that store was too hard to find. What if they did do heavy advertising—he knew of the Monarch campaign in that city—the other store would reap the benefit because it was so prominently located, even though not right on Market Street. Yes, he felt sure this was the unprofitable store.

As he stood watching the store he began to notice that more people went up on that side of the street, which meant that as they approached the store their eyes were focused ahead, watching for the crossing policeman’s signal to cross, and as they did cross the intersecting street their backs were turned to the big side window. And even those who came down on that side of the street did not get a good view of the window because they were on the outside of the sidewalk, with a stream of people between them and the store. He counted the people for periods of five minutes and found that nearly fifty percent more were going up on that side than were going down.

Then he counted the passers on the other side and found that nearly fifty percent more were going down on that side. Clearly that store was paying almost twice as much rent for that side display window as it should, and Market Street rent must be enormous. People didn’t see the store; people couldn’t find the store easily.

That night he thought, figured, and drew diagrams in his hotel room. His theory seemed to hold water; he felt sure that he was right. The next night, after having studied the situation another day and obtained some rent and sale figures from the store manager, he took a sleeper back to New York.

A few months later, as soon as the lease expired, that store moved. Adams had solved the riddle. It was really quite simple when you knew the answer.

“It’s that everlasting obviousness in Adams that I banked on. He doesn’t get carried away from the facts; he just looks them squarely in the face and then proceeds to analyze, and that is half of the battle.” Thus spoke Mr. Oswald to the copy chief.

That was the beginning of a series of incidents that sent Adams right to the front in the Oswald Agency and led eventually to his owning an interest. There was nothing spectacular about any of them. They were simply horse-sense analyses of situations, and then more horse sense in the working out of a plan.

Came a letter—from a manufacturer of, let us say, bond papers—it really was not bond papers, but I must not tell you what it was, and bond papers will do very nicely for the purpose of the story. Well, came this letter saying that they were interested in advertising and they wondered if some man from the Oswald Agency wouldn’t come out to their mill and talk it over with them. As it happened, the day the letter came Mr. Oswald was sailing for Europe at eleven o’clock. The letter came in the morning mail and Adams just happened to be in the president’s office when he picked it out of the basket on his desk.

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John