Retail Management: Where Does the Buck Stop?

The Buck Stops Here

This phrase comes from the game of poker. ‘The buck’ was the indicator of who’s turn it was to deal. The buck historically was often literally a knife with a buckhorn handle. If a person chose not to deal, he would pass the buck to the next player. Therefore he avoided the responsibility of dealing anyone a good or bad hand.
President Truman popularized the saying – he had a sign in the Oval Office with the words “The Buck Stops Here”. That is, there was no-one he would or could pass the ultimate responsibility of U.S. Federal Government to.


As a retail manager you are the ‘President’ of your store.

You are where the buck stops.

Sales aren’t as high as they could be. Staff members are unreliable. Customers are complaining. The buck stops with you.

Something goes wrong in your shop and you are tempted to blame other factors. Don’t. You have permission to implement changes by shouldering the responsibility yourself.

It is expected and perfectly normal for things not to go as well as you would like all the time.

Managers of successful stores don’t have fewer challenges than others. They don’t have less to worry about. They don’t have fewer fears.

What makes the stores a success are managers who recognize and address issues as and before they arise.

Last month’s issue of Talking Shop contained a survey on the subject of your greatest fear for the future of your shop.

There were 6 options:

  • That I won’t be able to staff it properly
  • That I won’t be able to compete with bigger stores.
  • That we won’t be able to keep up with new technologies
  • That customers will want something cheaper
  • That it will be targeted by shoplifters
  • Or Other

There were no “Other” responses; the 5 options seemed to sum up most people’s fears.

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