Managing discounts

The Baltimore Sun

Mike Matus

General manager

C-Mart, Joppatowne

Salary --$50,000

Age --25

Years on the job --Nine

How he got started --Needing a part-time job, Matus began working at C-Mart while still in high school. He started in the warehouse with processing and general stocking. When the Joppatowne store opened four years ago, Matus began working there as a delivery manager. In September, he was promoted to general manager.

Typical day --Although the 100,000-square-foot Joppatowne store originally opened to serve as C-Mart's separate furniture outlet, it now sells discounted clothing, apparel and shoes as well. Matus is responsible for keeping track of schedules, orders, customer service issues and incoming stock. He works two eight-hour shifts and two 12-hour shifts each week, including every other weekend. Much of his work involves organizing new shipments of merchandise. He supervises four managers, several department heads and more than 20 other employees.

"I have plenty of things that keep me sitting at my desk. Important things that need to be taken care of. But as much as I can, I like to be on the floor and try to support my team."

Advertisements --C-Mart is known for its handwritten advertisements. "[But] our best advertisement has always been word of mouth. We have a very loyal customer base," says Matus.

A handbag riot --A few years ago an advertised high-end handbag sale attracted more people than expected. Workers had to get people out of the store, lock the doors and reorganize before they could reopen. Since then, Matus who was there that day, says workers have perfected a numbers system that helps control the crowds.

New Web site --Next month, will launch to let customers shop online at the store.

The good --"I love the people I work with. We're close-knit and always refer to each other as family."

The bad --"Making some of the tough decisions." One of the hardest is finding room for new shipments.

Surprise shipments --Once when they were expecting a delivery of finished teak furniture, workers instead found teak root furniture. "They dig the root out of the ground so it looks like random tree limbs put together to make chairs, stools, tables and bunk beds. It was really interesting stock. We have a general idea of what's going to be on the truck, but you never know until you open those boxes."

Philosophy --"I try to be positive and keep my team positive. And I try to have fun with it."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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