Pier 1 Imports announced yesterday through their Pier1.com site that they will be closing all their stores, their website, and going out of business. Here in West Central Missouri if you wanted to get a papasan chair, some pillows or piece of decor you'd have to head into Lee's Summit or Columbia. In the Chicago area where I grew up, Pier 1 Imports was everywhere. And in my senior year of high school, Pier 1 Imports became my favorite high school job.

Because Pier 1 Imports sold a variety of merchandise it was always easy to stay busy at work. There was the wall of pillows. There were rows and rows of those folding hand fans that looked vaguely oriental. In the middle of the store there were the knickknacks. Vases, glasses, ashtrays, table art. I mean there was always something that needed straightening, dusting, or re-positioning. And that's before we got an assignment from one of the managers changing things around for merchandising purposes.

That was another thing I liked about the job. If I had a merchandising idea, or I was helping with a merchandising project my input was valued. Even as a high school kid. I wasn't some merchandising expert, or even all that savvy about what pillows might go with this wicker sofa or what table might fit with it. Yet, sometimes I'd get a broad overview of what my manager wanted and I'd be left to put something together. The manager, or a more savvy co-worker probably tweaked my work. But it was a good experience to have.

Then there was the ever so valuable discipline of customer service that I learned. Of being polite to everyone, regardless of whatever teenage trauma or drama was going on in my life. Of being kind to the rudest customer. Or even just not losing my shit when the cash register ran out of receipt tape and you couldn't get the new roll started right and Karen was standing there impatiently waiting to check out.

I worked at Pier 1 Imports my senior year of high school, and then the first Christmas season I was in college. I was never a huge customer of theirs. I think Kathy and I might have bought some wine glasses, or a vase, or a specific piece of decor from them occasionally. But it wasn't a place we frequented that often, and some of the merchandise was kind of expensive.

Thank you Pier 1 Imports for some life lessons. Thank you Pier 1 Imports for hiring good people to work with. And good managers to work for. Thank you for the training video "Pier 1 Imports vs. the Dust Bunnies". Thank you for being a part of my life, and always allowing me to say "I pushed wicker at Pier 1 when I was in high school."

My favorite part of the job was getting on the intercom to announce that the store was closing. And part of the spiel, when you read it won't make sense. What are "final purchases?"  But it's what I remember saying on the intercom. So I leave you with this,one last time:

Attention Pier 1 shoppers. Pier 1 Imports is now closing. Please finish shopping and take your final purchases to the register for check out. Thank you for shopping Pier 1!


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