Archive for November, 2011

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Black Friday at the Sabres Store

November 25, 2011

I’m not a fan of Black Friday shopping. I hate crowds. I hate being crowded. I hate getting stumbled into because people need to have that thing that’s on sale OMG RIGHT NOW! So of course, what do I do today? I go to the Sabres store for their Black Friday sale. There were A LOT of people at the store when I got there at ten after ten.

There were some things the store did right and some things that they could fix. And of course, since I can’t find the darn suggestion box on the Sabres site (whether it’s buried or removed is to be determined), I’m blogging about the experience. Let the record show that I recognize that problems with shopping are a total first world problem and that there are much bigger problems for the organization to be dealing with. Like that whole pesky “can’t win at home” thing or that troublesome “keeps giving up two goal leads” thing.

Since the store was incredibly busy, the Sabres had all the registers open, and all six register lines snaked through the store. People were handling the crowding well and moving around the store politely (there were lots of “excuse me’s” to be had). However, let’s talk briefly about the few things that can be fixed or altered to improve the shopping experience for future Black Fridays.

1. Make a cash-only line. I know, it’s radical for people to pay with cash these days, but a cash-only line would allow for customers to move in and out without having to wait for people to swipe cards, sign receipts and the like.

2. Have a table set off to the side/back/front of the store so that people could complete the required paperwork for custom jersey orders without having to delay the rest of the line. If you were buying a custom sweater, you had to have a 3×5 card filled out with your contact info & the size/color/personalization of the sweater you were buying. The cashier then had to match up your 3×5 card with the receipt number so the transaction payment was reflected on the card. If you were someone that was buying multiple sweaters, you were holding up the line just filling out paperwork. I think the management realized that this was somewhat problematic, as they did have people walking the lines to assist in filling out the cards, but these staffers just could not reach everyone.

3. Set up a kiosk or table outside the store for people that just wanted to buy Sabrebucks cards.

4. Have the registers set up to accept UPC code scanning. This was the strangest thing for me. Each item had a UPC code on the tag, which meant that at some point in it’s journey through the Sabres store, it was scanned. However, the cashiers had to individually enter each product code into the register AND enter the code for the 30% discount. It seemed like there were a lot of extraneous steps for what should be simple transactions.

Not that everything was all bad…

1. The store was incredibly clean and organized. The staff was working hard to keep merchandise racks full and neatly organized. There were also plenty of people walking around on the floor assisting customers. The Sabres seriously need to export this level of customer service  & organization to some of the big box stores, where one busy day makes the entire store disheveled.

2. There was a gift wrap table set up outside the store. I have no idea what organization this table was benefitting, but it was obviously good for those people that needed things wrapped immediately to avoid prying eyes.

3. The free Tim Hortons was a nice touch for those people leaving the arena after shopping.

4. The organist playing Christmas songs & game tunes on his keyboard added a festive touch to the shopping experience. I did get a giggle out of hearing Silent Night segue into Let’s Go Buffalo segue into Sabre Dance. And there was this one precious little girl using the organ music to practice her ballet moves. The only downside to the music was that it was pretty loud. You had to shout to be heard at the registers.

5. Did I mention the free parking was awesome? Because it was. I wonder if the free parking was one of the main reasons the crowd was so large? In past years, I can remember having to search for an on-street parking space or take a risk double parking.

And because I’ve been on a YouTube kick lately, I want to end this post with one of my favorite scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas, just because it’s so precious and does deal with a lot of the materialism of the season.

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Some of This, Some of That

November 22, 2011

- Did anything further ever come out of Sully’s comment on Twitter last week about Miller remarking that the media is lucky that the Sabres let them in the locker room? Was this just a teaser comment, an airing of dirty laundry or something said publicly that shouldn’t have been?

- If the Buffalo media thinks Sabres players can be difficult to deal with at times, would they like to trade places with the NASCAR media that deals with Kurt Busch? During the course of this past NASCAR season, Mr. Busch has accused an AP reporter of fabricating a quote, ripped up the transcript of said quote when confronted with the actual words, and called noted ESPN reporter Jerry Punch a mother-effer (NSFW).These antics make Cranky Miller or Angry Lindy look like a Sunday stroll through Forest Lawn.

- Is Vanek’s ‘stache part of the Movember movement, or is he just growing it for kicks and giggles? Does he feel the need to start growing some facial hair so that he can be the Sabres player with the most talked about facial hair? Vanek doesn’t appear to be one of those guys that shaves at 8am and has a 5 o’clock shadow by 10am, so I really want to see where he’s going with this.

- I think it’s awesome that Biznasty scored a goal on the night where his mother was in the audience for the first time. That’s really not bad for a hockey player that has more Twitter cred than hockey player cred. It’s also cute that Mama BizNasty doesn’t mind the topics of her son’s Tweets, but minds that they have bad grammar.

- I would rather the Sabres take two points against the Bruins tomorrow night than have some massive retaliation or stupid fight result in a Shanaban. Call me a wussy, but the big picture is what matters.

- And because this post isn’t completely random enough, here’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving clips:

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An Opinion on an Opinion

November 11, 2011

So by now I’m sure we’ve all read or heard about Bucky’s column in today’s paper. I don’t disagree with the News’ decision to publish a column about Pegula & Penn State, nor do I disagree with the need to ask Pegula about his thoughts on what’s happening in Happy Valley. This is a story that transcends whether one is a college football fan or a graduate of the school. This story is no longer just a sports story, it’s now a “real” news story.

What I do disagree with is the apparent need for Pegula to immediately be all fire & brimstone in public, immediately revoking his donation, burning his PSU diploma, wearing sackcloth & ashes or whatever else he needs to do to show his hate and rage. While Pegula has spoken openly & warmly about his love for Penn State, I don’t doubt that he is even more shocked and horrified than non-alumni by what has happened at his beloved college. However, is it any of our business who he talked to, when he talked to them or whatever? I’m sure conversations have been had ($88 million is a lot of money for PSU to gamble with), but who am I to judge T-Pegs reactions as appropriate or not?

As much as he may be hurt by what happened at PSU, I can understand why Pegula is not reneging on his financial commitment to the school. The hockey kids had nothing to do with the football team follies & mismanagement. Why punish them for the indefensible actions of a few? On the other hand, if Pegula would have requested the money back, I can only imagine the word artistry & legal shenanigans that would ensue.

With all of that said, I’m stepping off my soapbox now and moving on to much more lighthearted fare. You know, like this photo gallery, where Cody McCormick’s hat and Derek Roy’s tastefully arranged scarf battle for the title of most surprising accessory found in the Sabres locker room. (If the photo link doesn’t work for you, head to the Sabres Facebook page. It’s the photo gallery labeled “Veterans Day.”) The scarf is artfully draped around Roy’s neck, but McCormick’s hat has that certain je nais se quois that makes it truly special.

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Better Late Than Never

November 2, 2011

Since tonight’s Sabres/Flyers game was one of total dreckitude, I figured I would come out of my posting hiatus to talk about happier times. You know, like last Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets. I had the good fortune to be at the only Sabres home win of the season. Here are a few observations from that night:

- I loved the crowd sing-a-long to the anthem. I don’t care if it was planned or a last minute substitution for a sick or chickened-out anthem singer, it was something different. I wonder how it sounded on TV and the radio, as you really couldn’t tell that anyone was singing along to O Canada, and the Star Spangled Banner was only slightly louder.

- Having the kid with cancer drop the puck on Hockey Fights Cancer night was an emotional start to the night. I admit that I teared up as he left the ice, and I’m sure he appreciated the roar of the crowd as he doffed his cap and saluted the audience. I wish him nothing but the best and hope to god that he kicks cancer’s butt.

- I noticed that only about one-quarter of the crowd stood and applauded the recipient of Gerbe’s Tickets for the Troops. The recipient at this game was going to be deployed to Afghanistan at the end of the year. I ask you, fellow fans, to respect what this guy is putting on the line for you. At the very least, you can stand up and applaud him for it. You don’t even have to put down your beer! I don’t care if you’re against the war(s) or not, the troops still deserve our support.

There was also the potential for a highly awkward moment when this gentleman chose his 15 seconds of fame to propose to his girlfriend. While she did say yes, it would have been quite embarrassing had she not. This is the second game I’ve been to where I’ve seen a proposal, and thankfully both times resulted in a favorable answer.

- When the Sabres took a 2-0 lead, I said “please don’t blow it.” Apparently, the team heard me, but had selective deafness and collectively missed the word “don’t.” Apparently, two goal leads are dangerous for the Sabres to have. They definitely fall into the “this is why we can’t have nice things” category.

- $4 for a bottle of pop is ridiculous. As is $4 for a plain, undecorated hot dog. I don’t care if it’s a Sahlen’s dog; a hot dog sans chili and other fancy toppings should cost less than $4.

- I purchased a mystery Sabres hat from a very nice Sabres wife/girlfriend wearing a baby in a baby sling. I ended up with a Cody McCormick hat. And if it wasn’t for the number next to the signature, I would have had no freaking clue who signed the hat. I know these guys literally sign hundreds of things for giveaways, but some of these signatures look more like abstract works of art than legit names.

- Enroth played an outstanding game. At some points, I really thought he was the only thing keeping the Sabres in the game. The team just seemed tired & sluggish, like their minds were working but their feet were not following along.

- There was also some discussion during the game  amongst those of us in the cheap seats regarding how many major penalties a player can earn in a game before being tossed. (Its 3.) Since Cody Bass earned two fighting majors, we were curious if that was enough to get him tossed from the game. As we all know now, it was not. However, after reading the rule book, I also didn’t know that getting tossed from the game means that you will also be paying a $200 fine. (On a related note, there is also a $100 fine if you are assessed a major penalty for causing an injury to someone’s head or face with your stick. Good to know that a facial/dental deformity is worth $100 to the league. I guess that gives literal meaning to putting a price on someone’s head.)

And because I’m sure we can all use a chuckle after tonight’s debacle, I leave you with this video.

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