- Jason Barnes, owner All Time Toys
Unlike your retail strategy or your promotions, natural disasters come unscheduled and the full brunt of their impact is never quite in line with the forecast. In addition, the threat of cyberterrorists holding your retail data hostage – with a minimum ransom value of millions – is a reality in retail today.
Thus, disaster preparedness is an absolute necessity for every business to mitigate risk and secure their retail data.
This is the retail case study of the retail store All Time Toys:
Jason Barnes – a true comic book aficionado at heart – started with All Time Toys over 10 years ago, when it was just a flea market operation full of hope and big superhero dreams. Through determination, perseverance, and a lot of hard work, he and the All Time Toys then-owners built the business up, moving into a brick & mortar store in Ellicott City, Maryland – one of the cities in Howard County, which in 2015 was the 3rd wealthiest county in the US.
In 2011, the company invested in the Retail Pro retail management platform for its POS and back office ERP functionality.
"Retail Pro was the perfect fit for our needs and I like the software much more than Micros or what we used in the military, which is basically the software Walmart uses," Barnes explained. "We use Retail Pro to keep track of our 60 thousand inventory items, product and gift card sales, and critical KPIs."
When asked what he likes about Retail Pro, Barnes said, "Retail Pro is easily customizable, which, in a business like ours is crucial. Our shelves have Voltron sitting next to Luke Skywalker, sitting next to Rapunzel and all kinds of action figures, 3D statues, Marvel superheroes…. If it's very cool, very unique or very vintage, we sell it. Some of our product is very old though – like 1980s video games – and, for example, they might not have UPCs. So we need a software that allows us to determine what data we enter. We customized the user interface to include fields for the exact data we need to sell online – things like name, subname, item, weight, dimensions, UPC, and at least three photos which we get from our wholesalers."
All Time Toys uses a Retail Pro-Retail Dimensions integration that syncs data from Retail Pro directly to their website and eBay account, giving them omnichannel data connectivity. "The greatest asset we have in our business is the ability to pull data from the Retail Pro Point of Sale for our website and eBay," said Barnes, "And the Retail Pro-Retail Dimensions integration automatically does about 90% of the data work needed to upload products to these market places."
In June 2016, Barnes used his family nest egg to buy out the toy store he had come to love. He planned to invigorate the business in three years, adding product and expanding to multiple locations.
The very next month, however, All Time Toys and all of Ellicott City were devastated by a deadly 1-in-1000-year flash flood.
"It was a perfectly normal, sunny day. A good sales day," Barnes recounts. "The worst thing up to that point was all the people playing Pokémon Go!"
And then the storm clouds rolled in.
Ellicott City was hit with over 6 inches of rain in 3 hours, with some places seeing over 8.22 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
During a break in the weather, Barnes sent his employee home, and soon after, he closed up shop and headed for home himself, an hour's drive during good weather.
But he decided to turn back and check on his inventory in the shop's basement – and with this providential decision, he unknowingly positioned himself at the right time and place in history to lead the rescue of a young woman trapped in her car in the middle of the dirty, furious torrent of floodwaters.
"It was very surreal. The sidewalk is made of brick and the water was just destroying it – I could feel the bricks hitting my legs under the water. Jonny reached out to me and the human chain just formed naturally to get me over to her, but we came up short – so I knew I would have to let go to get her out. I remember noise, things hitting my feet. 20 minutes later, the water started receding. That's when you really started to see the destruction – the buildings were blown out, sidewalks broken, cars everywhere, sirens, people screaming. And then the smell of gas."
When commended for his heroism, Barnes said simply, "I just think that's the bare-line, minimal, decent thing you could do. I've always had high faith in humanity, that people will do the right thing when it's presented."
"The county allowed us into our stores for about 10 minutes. I was only able to get my server at that time. Two-thirds of my inventory and store displays were damaged by the flood. My whole section of inventory for eBay sales is destroyed." Barnes tallies the loss to be about $30,000 in inventory.
Jason had just started working with his Retail Pro Business Partner, Complete Data Systems, when he bought the store. Prior to that, they had not been actively using the data they collected in Retail Pro – but they also had not taken steps to secure the data.
If his store computer would have been damaged, all of his data would have been lost in the flood, because the store had no data backups. Jason would have to reenter all of the thousands of his inventory items and his employee data, and collect all new customer data. All of his vendor history would have been lost, as well as all of the sales data he would have used to make projections.
Thankfully, his computer did not suffer damage and all of that data was preserved in the Retail Pro archive.
"Our first action item was to do a remote backup of that information so we could put that onto new computers, so he does not have to start at zero," said Michael Armstrong, Sales Director at Complete Data Systems. "We are fortunate that his loss wasn't completely catastrophic and we were able to go back to his database, save all of his data, and then reinstall that on new hardware."
While the County was busily rebuilding the streets of Ellicott City, Barnes was working from home with his children, busily planning for his grand reopening – recovering data and upgrading his Retail Pro with Complete Data Systems, and preparing his inventory. On January 21, 2017, Barnes and all of the All Time Toys fans celebrated that grand reopening, complete with R2-D2 and a light saber for the ribbon cutting.
In addition, All Time Toys is rebuilding their website with Retail Dimensions.
Retail Dimensions built a website on X-cart for All Time Toys and integrated it to their new Retail Pro 9. With this integration, Barnes will have the ease of:
"We are excited to be part of Jason's team in rebuilding All Time Toys! Retail Dimensions is helping him get his site back up so the integration to Retail Pro will be running again when his store reopens. And we are suspending all fees for him until he's able to get back on his feet after all this. Jason is an amazing story of persistence, resilience and faith," said Kurt Beeken, President of Retail Dimensions.
Even with so much unforeseen loss in the first month of owning his business, Barnes is undeterred from his goal of reinvigorating the toy store, and the whole world is playing a part in it! In recognition of his heroism, Barnes was award the Governor's Award for Excellence, Ellicott City Heroism Award, and the Birdland Hero Award from the Major League Baseball team the Baltimore Orioles, and he has been nominated for a Carnegie Heroism Award.
In addition, the rescue video went viral and people from all over the world are donating to a Go Fund Me set up for Barnes – enabling him to quickly reinvest in his business.
"Now that we've reopened and our shelves are getting well-stocked again, we hope to be in a position to open a second brick & mortar by the fall of 2017," Barnes disclosed.