We met up with Saks Fifth Avenue’s Jamie Tankersley at his neighborhood Panera to talk retail.
For Jamie Tankersley, the most exciting part of his job as general manager of the Saks Fifth Avenue store at The Summit begins and ends with the people, punctuated neatly with the notion that “everyone is welcome.”
“I think what excites me the most about being here and retail in general are the people I get to interact with every day; whether it’s the clients, the style advisors or the brand ambassadors. The interaction with them is really what gets me going,” Tankersley says.
For a few years prior to coming to Saks, Tankersley was the vice president of store operations for Belk based in Charlotte. “I was in a corporate office nine or ten hours a day either in front of a computer screen or moving from meeting to meeting. I just about went crazy. My career prior to had been in the field, in the stores.”
Back in 1999, Tankersley received his initial training in the retail trade at Parisian here in his hometown of Birmingham. “Truly that foundation is still the foundation that plays such a major part in the decisions I make today, even all this time later. I saw Donald Hess (former chairman of Parisian) the other day. I have such a high level of gratitude towards him. He fostered a culture that had such a profound impact on so many people. I am so grateful I could establish my roots in that culture,” Tankersley says.
Metro Birmingham also formed Tankersley. “When I decided to make the change, I really wanted to get closer to Birmingham to get back home,” he says. Both his and his wife’s extended family live in the area.
“So in addition to having the opportunity to work for this great organization, this opportunity gave me the ability to get closer to the people who are most important to me,” he says.
The other important people work with Tankersley every day. “We have talented and incredibly capable style advisors and brand ambassadors. A hundred percent of their responsibilities is providing the highest level of customer service that we possibly can. Our goal is to welcome the client into the building and ensure from the very beginning that their experience is great,” says Tankersley.
“The investment that the company makes in our style advisors and our brand ambassadors from a training standpoint is just remarkable. We invest in technology that allow us to service the client wherever she is, so being able to service her where she is and how she wants it is important. The customer has more options today than they ever had. Saks Fifth Avenue is constantly challenging us: How do we strengthen our ability to be able to serve the client? Saks Fifth Avenue is right on the front edge of that charge.”
Tankersley says he loves being on the front line. “Here in the store everything is tactical. You can have an impact every single day and that is what is really most exciting to me.” ∞