Proven Cure for the Common Cold: Vick’s Vapor Rub and a #2 Lead Pencil


By Gabe Trahan, Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

(@ncpagabe on Twitter)

Have you ever thought something was working based on a myth?

Ms. Tessier was my wife’s 2nd grade teacher. For many years Ms. Tessier shared with each class how she successfully fought off the common cold; first you are to roll your tongue then with the lead tip—not the eraser but the lead tip—of a #2 pencil, and apply a glob of Vick’s vapor rub to the center of the curled tongue. This undoubtedly terrified a few children, my wife included, not for the lead part, but the Vick’s. Ms. Tessier’s method was viewed as wonderful cure and was supported by the fact that she lived to the age of 102. To this day there are probably a few hundred baby boomers wandering around applying vapor rub to their curled tongue with a #2 lead pencil.

My dad smoked for over 70 years. He quit smoking at the age of 90. As far back as he can remember he consumed two apples every day of his life. As far as I can remember he started and ended his day with a “shot” of brandy. For 90 years he was as healthy as a horse; he passed away just short of his 93rd birthday. Sadly five of my siblings viewed dad’s longevity to be a confirmation of a proven and successful lifestyle that they chose to emulate. To them, I say good luck with that.

In my years of experience, I have visited well over a hundred stores who are able to pay their bills in spite of housing a dangerously anemic front end, supporting a gift purchasing policy that is simply composed of “go with your gut”, and maintaining a scraggy hit-or-miss durable medical department. This façade of success is causing an epidemic. What we sometimes think is working couldn’t be the furthest from the truth!

If you agree that operating a business based on a myth is bad business then you must plan to attend the 114th NCPA Annual Convention and Trade Exposition, October 13-17 in San Diego. While you there, make plans to join me for the premier of NCPA’s first non CE Business Breakfast on Tuesday, October 16th from 6:30 to 8:00 AM. If you come, we will provide you with the Front End Overhaul’s list of one-hundred OTC items that you should never ever run short on. Let’s get started on busting a few bad business myths. Come early and sit up front, you will be glad you did.

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