There was an Italian place in my hometown that was well liked for its pizza, among other things. The waitresses made the dough fresh in the kitchen, and the cooks made the sauce as close to being in-house as you can get short of actually steaming and straining tomatoes.
The owners eventually sold it, and the new owners turned it into a bar & grill. They still had the pizza, but it was all frozen dough and bland canned sauce. Meanwhile, a fan and regular of the original restaurant bought an old mechanic garage and fixed it up to be a spiritual successor to the old one — he even got all the recipes he could from the original owners; surprise of all surprises, his is the one that succeeded while the bar & grill petered out after the novelty rush.
The bar & grill eventually sold to that guy, and now it’s a new, different bar & grill, but with all the best food that the old Italian place served still on menu. It’s been running strong for over a decade since.
Property management company I used to work for had a number of student properties and high-rises that were always a struggle to fill in the summer months when students went out of town.
Head office came up with an offer that anyone who signed for two years got the four summer months at 50% off. Sounds like a good deal, 50% rent is much better than zero. We signed tons of students.
However the lease templates that head office sent over showed the reduced rent rate on the lease rather than just adding the discount as a separate addendum. I noticed this discrepancy and reported it – and was subsequently ignored.
Which meant the students were signing a legal document that guaranteed them 50% rent for two years.
The company lost hundreds of thousands in revenue.
I used to work for a company that was bleeding money. In order to try and save money, they decided to stop honoring returns/refunds, but still advertised that they did.
Whenever someone would ask for a refund, you were supposed to tell the person that it would be processed in the next 6-8 weeks, then get them off the phone.
6-8 weeks later, when they ask where their money is, you were supposed to apologize and say their paperwork got put in the wrong stack, and that it would be put in the correct stack and would then be processed in the next 6-8 weeks.
If they complained about the length of time, you were supposed to tell them you can ask your supervisor to expedite it, and they should see it in 4-6 weeks instead.
If they threatened legal action after months and months, you were supposed to tell them to contact the company legal department ( we didn’t have a company legal department) and then hang up on them. Then, make a note in their account. No one should field calls from that account further.
More than half the call center quit in a single week in protest of this decision.
Company collapsed in on itself within a few months.
In my hometown there was an independent fast food and homemade ice cream place, long established and run by close friends. It was a goldmine. They decided to sell and retire. New owners immediately changed everything. Painted it a wild color, removed some attractions on the grounds, changed the 60 year old menu and switched to commercially made ice cream. They lasted 8 months.
A developer my dad worked with sold off a beautiful piece of land next to a river in a very desirable area, he sold it to another developer. The new developer cut down every tree on the 6 acre site, as he said, “he wanted to see what he had”. The land then started to slide into the river, rendering it worthless and ugly.
Knew this guy who wanted to start his own BBQ and hot sauce line, here was his process:
Get high with buddy and make the decision go into business together.
Argue about who should be financing the business
Get a loan from Grandma
Order a bunch of bottles
Use a sharpie and some blank labels to put on the bottles
Fill the bottles with bulk BBQ sauce.
Try and sell these to Walmart
Get upset that Walmart won’t shelve your sketch sauces
Have several hundred bottles of unsealed product that wasn’t prepared hygienically.
Try and sell some to your extended family.
Get angry with extended family that they don’t believe in your dreams of the last two weeks.
Beg family for money to pay back grandma.
My late great uncle started a fish and chips restaurant. He had his own unique recipe for the fish and it was very popular. Businessmen had offered him thousands in cash for it over the years, but he always declined. After about 40 or so years, he decided to retire and hand the business over to an ambitious recent college grad. He offered to give her the recipe and even volunteer his services for a bit while she got comfortable in her new role as owner. She declined both and within a year, she was forced to sell the restaurant after coming close to declaring bankruptcy. My great uncle died and took the recipe with him to his grave
There was a shopping plaza near me with a fairly large gift store. Not a gift shop in the museum sense, basically like a Hallmark store but independent. It wasn’t exactly bustling, but they apparently did solid business and a lot of people in the community really appreciated having it there as a place to buy gifts and wrapping paper and such. The owners of the shopping plaza raise rents to the point that the shop goes out of business. The reason this was stupid is that the store front sat vacant for like 15 entire years. Seriously, this place closed when I was a child and I’m now 27 and the vacancy was only taken over very recently. If their goal in raising the rent was to have a more profitable store move in to that space, they certainly failed and missed out on decades of rent as a result.
I worked for a video store during the time Finding Nemo came out on DVD. The video store I worked for got a huge fishtank put inside. It was so big they had to shrink the game rental section. The tank had clown fish in it. The tank was also locked and we couldn’t feed the fish or clean it. This was supposed to be done by someone who I never saw come in. So the tank ended up filled with a bunch of dead Nemos in a nasty as f*** tank. Needless to say parents were very unhappy about it. The local paper did a small article about it too which didn’t help an already dying store. I have no idea what they thought an expensive as Hell fish tank would do for their business.
This one involves my Dad. Back in the ’80s he decided he wanted to teach people how to use Lotus 123, Excel, MS Word, etc. So he bought a bunch of computers for a classroom, and he wrote interactive learning programs, and printed out manuals and such. Even without advertising, he had people asking to join his class BUT … he was never quite ready. This Lotus 123 program could use more work. He wasn’t ready for a class, this MS Word tutorial isn’t quite done. The perfectionist in him wouldn’t let him expose the less than perfect programs/class to people … just yet. He turned down paying customers for fear that it wasn’t just perfect. He had taken a loan out from a friend to finance this, but never made a dime. He paid the loan back by selling our cottage, something he regrets to this day. And why? Because he was afraid to be flawed.
That taught me a lesson though, as the old saying goes “Perfect is the enemy of done”. He could easily have made money and taught his classes, refining the programs to student feedback. He could have covered deficiencies by teaching in person. He was afraid it wasn’t perfect, so it was never done. We don’t talk about it, or the cottage that we built together (we had the foundation and structure built by pros, then the whole family pitched in to build the interior when we were teens).
It saddens me more because it was what he wanted to do, and he went for it … but not quite.
I worked for a design/printing place for years, and the owner went from amazing idea to stupid idea on a regular basis. don’t get me wrong – guy is a brilliant designer, totally took advantage of new tech every chance he could and made it work.
But – he was cheap and greedy, so, ruined what would have been lucrative long term business relationships.
So – we did this huge order of promo supplies for a fairly big on-line casino. huge, for him. about a 20k order, with good margins, and the chance at long term work with this company.
While it was being picked up, on the spur of the moment, he decides to pad the bill by about 200 bucks. the guy picking it up was the son of the casino owner, and literally watched the boss do this while I stood at teh till.
The customer looks at me, smiles, and pays the bill. With a huge wad of cash. And says “I know it’s not your fault, but – my family is very wealthy. We didn’t get that way letting people rip us off. Tell the boss over in the corner he just f***** himself out of a lot of money, because we loved the work.” in a voice meant to carry.
Edit to clarify who was paying. And padding means he increased the bill over what he had quoted the job to cost.
Kodak refusing to push digital cameras / photography, and instead focusing on film cameras. If I recall correctly, I think Kodak was one of the first companies to create a digital camera, but instead of capitalizing on it, they sat on the technology and focused on film development.
Take a help desk that has been consistently rated extremely well by its customers for their first-call-resolve, attitude, and helpfulness; outsource it to a company that’s been rated towards the bottom of the list for over a decade because it costs less than the salaries/benefits of your former in house help desk. Then complain when your first-call-resolve drops through the floor and your customer satisfaction is at an all time low.
Cafe I work for decided it wanted to fire everyone except for the leads and the manager. Then told the manager they weren’t paying her salary anymore AND she needed to take on more work. Assumed people would do it because they “love their jobs”
There was a Tex-Mex place I loved in Fairbanks, Alaska. The food wasn’t GREAT, but it was consistent, and the prices were fair.
Well, a new owner came in, and they decided to revamp it into a fine dining steak house. $30 was pretty much the lowest cost you could get for an item, and this was in a neighborhood that had a substantial crime rate and was right across the street from the bikini barista and the marijuana dispensary.
I stopped going, and they went under shortly thereafter. I walked in once before the place closed down, and it was dreary and empty and they had tried to bring some of the classics back to the menu, but it was far too late by then.
You were too good for this world, Los Amigos.
I worked at JCP before and after 2011 (I think) when they revamped the whole company. They took away coupons, and they took away a lot of departments people (especially older people) loved, like custom window coverings. They also brought in extremely expensive furniture. Like $8,000 dining tables. Trust me.. no one shopping at JCP is looking to buy an $8,000 table.
They paid the CEO who brought about all these changes a massive amount of money and it failed miserably. People HATED the changes and we went from a busy store almost every weekend, to it being dead almost every weekend. It lasted maybe 2 years and then they brought back a lot of the stuff they got rid of, but the damage was done. The people who had been shopping at JCP for years and years who stopped after the changes, didn’t come back.
JCP lost an insane amount of money during this whole thing and never recovered. They filed for bankruptcy last year.
Circuit City was pretty stupid. When the recession hit, they decided to stop selling appliances and instead focus on DVDs and televisions and such. (Appliances are known as being a recession proof item. People always need refrigerators and microwaves. They don’t need DVDs.) They also wanted to cut down on labor costs, so they fired a lot of managers and assistant managers, and just left a lot of entry level employees because they were cheaper to pay. Well, entry level employees don’t really know how to fully run a store, so pretty much every Circuit City became dogs***.
A radio station i used to listen to recently changed their format from 80% music, 20% talk show to 100% talk show. Then they were like “oh you can still listen to the music but it’s only going to be on our app.”
20th Century Fox giving George Lucas the merchandising rights and rights to sequels for Star Wars in exchange for a pay cut on his director’s fee (from half a million to $150,000)
Two members of the band Steppenwolf wanted to break away from founder John Kay and wanted to tour using the band name. John Kay told them he would allow it….only if they signed over their royalties from the song writing credits they had in the band. These two members were convinced they would be successful on their own so they agreed.
Since Steppenwolf without John Kay would be like the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger, that version of the band flopped tremendously.
Also, even a five year old could tell you that giving up your royalties on major hits like “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” would be a really stupid thing to do, so these guys ended up having to work regular menial jobs when they could have been getting a nice royalty check in the mail instead.
My old company was internationally known in our industry as being one of the ideal places to be. We could hire basically anybody in the world in our space to move and work in our office. It was such a f****** awesome place to work.
The CEO decided to cash out when a larger company barely related to our industry decided to buy us. The new company basically gutted everything that made it great, then rushed to go public. The employee stock options were pennies and they drastically cut benefits. Every time there was a complaint the answer was “maybe you don’t understand our vision” or “well we are a public company now.” They also got rid of our office which was located in one of the hottest LA neighborhoods that everybody loved.
More than half of the OG senior members have left and a large number of others are rumored to leave. I was forced to start assisting in hiring and it was grueling. People would apply believing it was our old company, then find out what’s up and go elsewhere. Oh, and the stock is plummeting.
I hate the fact that what once was is over. Those f**** ruined something great.
I worked for a small airline for several years. We did fairly well doing regional flights across the US and Canada.
Our dip s*** CEO decides we should get into the private jet market and lure in a bunch of rich people with more money than they could spend.
This plan hilariously backfired and we went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy for two reasons:
anyone that can afford a private jet wants to BUY one for themselves and hire a pilot to fly for them. They’re not interested in buying a ticket AND hiring a pilot.
idiot CEO invested in outdated prop planes. Because nothing appeals to rich people more than fancy planes that scream through the air like a lawn mower cranked to 11.
Panera Cares opening less than a mile from my college campus.
For those who don’t know, Panera Cares basically just let you order food and would list a “suggested donation” based on what you ordered, but ultimately it was honor system. The cashiers would just make change for you so you could put cash in the donation box. If you can’t afford a meal it’s fine to not pay but you are supposed to volunteer to work for two hours to cover it, but this isn’t actually required.
I think generally these things are supposed to be for really affluent neighborhoods where people probably donate even more than is “suggested.” But students from the college basically turned it into a real life Tragedy of the Commons experiment. There was almost never bread available because everyone would just take it. The lines were insane and people would donate like $1 if anything. It closed within a year lol.
I worked at Hollywood Video from 2006 to 2009. At that time Netflix was growing by leaps and bounds and our revenue was dwindling from year to year.
Instead of copying Netflix’s model and using their more recognizable brand name to edge them out of business, Hollywood shrugged their shoulders and continued renting single DVDs for $4.99 for 3 days plus late fees.
Where they at now?
Around last year this time of year, I know someone in their early 50’s that sold all of their investments (at a significant dip from the highs) and decided to start producing and selling hand sanitizer in little bottles out of their garage. Seeing it as a big opportunity with the virus.
They spent everything on the bottles, labels, plastic drums full of sanitizer (at a huge markup), hiring locals people to fill the bottles and put the labels on, and then a website. By the time they had inventory, they realized that they couldn’t compete on price with places like Walmart or other big box stores that had finally caught up to the shortages by mid-summer. They also didn’t realize that selling on Amazon was gated for that category so you had no chance of selling through there as a new seller. So now they basically have a garage full of old hand sanitizer, and no savings.
Not even sure if it was a conscious decision but Sears passing on being Amazon in the early 90’s. Sears was poised and ready to be Amazon, they had most components in place already and the others they had in their arsenal.
First they had name recognition, this was important for the trust factor with the internet exploding like it was. They had the product line, for s**** sake you could buy a house from the Sears catalog. Delivery, it was there, they delivered the house that you bought!
Internet portal, they had it. They owned Prodigy, one of the more recognized internet providers of the time. This was a joint venture with IBM, you know, the most well known hardware provider for computers at the time.
So IBM sells a computer with Prodigy installed with free to stupid low cost internet access. When you sign on it drops you to a home page(that was the way it worked back then with software internet) with a link to the ONLINE SEARS CATALOG! Same great catalog, just on the WORLD WIDE WEB!
Company I worked for decided to stay open instead of closing at the start of covid. The state even said they would pay employees and give businesses money if they closed and didn’t lay people off.
Nope they stayed open and all of their customers closed down. Making no money for 5 months they had to lay off 80% of their employees.
Things started picking up last October. Well they were understaffed and couldn’t meet demands. Causing them to lose most of their big contracts. If it wasn’t supplemented by the mother company in Japan they would be done for now.
I worked there for 13yrs. Seeing how far we grew to have one bad decision cost them everything is eye opening.
In the early days of the personal computer, a fairly prominent developer Osborne went t*** up because they showed off their new model far in advance of when it was actually going to be available. So predictably dealers immediately cancelled all orders for their current computer model in preparation for the new improved version. Inventory stacked up and they were bankrupt before the new model ever came out…..
Its known as the Osborne Effect.
Holy heck my time to shine. Prepare for a number of them.
Used to work at the corporate office of a major water park in my state (if you ever lived in Utah you know which one). The year before I started, they adopted a new ‘business’ practice of offering a season pass to the waterpark (and numerous other facilities) for a measly $20 per year. Not a typo. Previously they had been $150+ per year. Unbelievable right? It gets worse.
The year I started, they ran a new promotion where you buy a season pass for $25, but then also get a $20 giftcard back in the mail to Walmart or some other store. You can see where this is going.
2 weeks after I started as a fulfillment specialist (dealing with pass issues) they fired the entire call center staff of 30+ people, heaping their phone calls and emails onto my fulfillment team of 8. So in addition to all of our work creating and shipping passes, we had to take all customer service calls and emails.
It gets worse.
For some reason, they thought that it was prudent to wait until we had some large round number (I think either 500 or 1000) passes ready to ship before they would even ORDER the gift cards to send with them (even though there were thousands of passes purchased and pending with this deal). So not only were there MASSIVE delays in people getting their passes, sometimes they just wouldn’t even get the gift cards either because the season was starting and they demanded their passes now instead of waiting for the gift cards too.
So double whammy there, customers angry about how long it takes to get the season passes, and not getting the gift cards.
After all this, and firing the call center, they couldn’t figure out why they were still losing money. I quit, and the rest of the team quit as well within 2 weeks of me leaving. Somehow they kept afloat for another year or so, but then eventually the waterpark closed for a year or two and changed hands a few times.
It was recently bought again, ‘renovated’, and this new company is offering season passes for…. $30.
The circle of life, I suppose.
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