The Economic Valentines Day Massacre
V&D used to be the biggest warehouse chain (62 stores) in The Netherlands, until they went bankrupt on the 31st of December 2015. The stores remained open whilst hoping for a relaunch. Sadly, this relaunch never came and they had to close their doors indefinitely on the 14th of February. There were entrepreneurs interested, one specific, but financially the banks didn’t have enough faith in the entire operation to give it another go. So another Valentines Day Massacre, except this time in The Netherlands and not in Chicago. A massive financial hit for the personnel working there, the suppliers who delivered their goods but wouldn’t get paid and the landlords. The V&D bankruptcy quickly became a highly discussed topic, amongst friends but also on TV. Everyone had their opinion ready as to why the V&D had failed to keep their doors open. Reasons mentioned were the poor state of our current economy, internet sales and the V&D just not being modern innovative enough. Whatever it was, after 128 years, the V&D no longer exists.
Getting hired for the V&D Massacre
As abrupt as the stores had to shut their doors, as abrupt did they have to reopen them when a company bought all the remaining stock. And to re-open this suddenly they needed personnel asap. So through a Dutch job agency (Tempo-Team) I got hired to work at V&D for 3 to 4 weeks. Now mind you, I never worked at V&D previously, I’m not part of roughly 10.000 people who lost their jobs. They hired personnel through the job agency because by law it was more difficult to re-hire old personnel but also because it was just way cheaper. The V&D management wasn’t even the ones hiring, that was the company that had bought all remaining V&D stock. The V&D was just the host really. The plan was to sell all the remaining items at quickly as possible, raising the discounts daily. So a week prior to me handing in my thesis at my university I landed a job with zero prospects for the future. This was ideal for me because I knew already that I would only be in my town for another month or so before setting off to Costa-Rica. So I got the perfect job in way.
The Clearance sale AKA the second V&D Massacre.
Well we only had 3 days to prepare the V&D store to re-open it’s doors. With a total of 4 floors to prepare, it was total madness. The group of people that got hired existed out of many different backgrounds but all with a shared goal, which worked impressively well. There were only a handful of old V&D employees so it was truly a ‘wing it’ type of deal. Which works fine for me, in fact, that’s what works best for me. Give me chaos and I’ll sing my way calmly through it and deal with whatever comes on my path. When the V&D reopened the doors on Thursday the 24th of March there were actually people waiting outside the doors, queues of people. This was Black Friday meets The Netherlands. I’m not kidding. From discounts of 20%/30% on Thursday the 24th of March we eventually ended up to giving the last two days (11th and 12th of April) discounts of 70% up to 90%.
Most of the customers were very friendly and compassionate towards the employees. This felt really strange at times because for us, it was a chance to work. Just a project we knew had no perspective. At the cash register you usually didn’t have time to explain to customers though that you didn’t work at V&D previously. So usually I would just thank them for their compassion and wish them a good day.
On the last Saturday the store was open a band showed up and started playing awesome music. If I had to name a highlight of my time at V&D, it would be this. Such a great atmosphere!
Discounts bring out the worst in some people. I’ve literally spent days just picking up stuff from the floor. I don’t understand people think it is okay to just throw stuff on the floor that they don’t need. If I had to name one thing that shocked me the most, it would be this, the utter disrespect of some people. Also at the register, people trying to get aggressive towards you to intimidate you to give them more discount. Are you serious right now people? Unbelievable. Mind you, this was only a small group of people with attitudes like this, but they stand out you know. Don’t even get me started on the amount of empty packages I’ve had to throw away. Even with security all over the stores people ripped into packages. There was another V&D store, elsewhere in The Netherlands, that had to close their doors for a bit because customers started to physically fight over queue positions.
On Tuesday the 12th of April the store had to close early because it just ran out of stuff to sell. We closed at 12 pm. And now it’s really over. I’m jobless again for another 17 days, until I set of to Costa-Rica. A welcome “break” to be fair, I’ve still so much to organise.
My V&D loot aka my damage….
Okay! So…. working at the V&D the last couple of weeks obviously triggered the shopper in me. My friends must have been at least slightly surprised when I ended up looting half the store myself. I know I was! The first few weeks I was super good, mostly because even though the discounts were decent… it was still you know costing money and most of the stuff that was for sale was really stuff you want and not need. With Costa-Rica (and New York, and Hawaii) in the back of my mind I decided not to buy anything because all those trips would cost me enough. Well.. I failed. Well did I fail? See below my treasure. I paid a total of €85,81 for everything that I bought. On the picture you don’t even see everything that I bought because some were / are presents for friends and they are secrets or already given away… I think the total discounts I’ve received are over €400,-!!!! So let’s do some math…. I made roughly (after taxes) €432,- euro for working 10 days at V&D spread out over 4 weeks. You know what, I don’t think I did so bad… I mean look at all the things I bought… I clearly needed all that right before setting of for 4 months right?!