Monday, February 04, 2008

Andrews Radio Shock

Welcome back to Monkeesims (insert clever introductory comment here, cause I can't think of one this morning). I want the weekend back. It was a good one, which means I'm not prepared for this new week. How screwed up is that? But yeah, when the weekend blows, I'm ready to be done with it and get back to work. Well, sort of. Given a choice, I'd ALWAYS stay home if I could, but if I HAVE to go to work when the week starts, it's better for me if I've had a crappy weekend. Don't ask me to explain…it makes no sense. At any rate, here I am, and that's that.

Hmmm…that sure is a whiney sounding opening paragraph, but due to lack of interest, I will not be editing it at this time. No, it's time to move on to more exciting things. Last week, we took a look at how the younger Wilson family tried to achieve collective financial success, through a combination of actual jobs (only for the suckers) and clever backyard poker swindling. Well, as great as both of those money making methods are, there was one yet to be explored - owning a business (that might be partly due to the fact that I hadn't purchased Open for Business till right before the events depicted in this post). The opening of the Bluewater Village shopping district and the ability to own businesses excited a great many sims, and the first to buy their own business was none other than the overly ambitious Amy Andrews.

Amy: "It's no Wal-Mart, but just wait…"

After purchasing an unattractive building (okay, so I was eager to get someone started running a business and didn't take much time with the aesthetics), Amy decided it was time to fulfill her dream of owning her own electronics store. She named the place Andrews Radio Shock, bought some shelves and a robot making bench, and got to work. After hammering out a few toy robots and tossing them on the shelves, Amy decided she couldn't wait to see how the whole business and customer thing worked, and opened the place to the public. Well, a few folks wandered in, and she sold a few robots (there was nothing else to sell), then discovered she was surprisingly inadequate at running a cash register or restocking shelves. This came as something of a shock, since all of her regular skills were maxed. Tough luck, Amy…apparently that means nothing in the business world!

Amy: "I guess saying we've got everything might be an overstatement!"

As much fun as Amy had building all the toy robots herself, she realized it would be time consuming to craft, schmooze customers, run the register, and stock shelves all by herself. Thus, she did the logical thing and hired an army of employees on the second day of running her business. Her work force consisted of Schroeder and Elmer Fultz, Elrond Hartman, Austyn Strange, and Katrina and Mia Kay Wilson (how she got the last two to actually get jobs is beyond me). She decided to expand and buy some toy crafting stations, so instead of just selling toy robots, she could sell toy bricks too. It apparently takes a lot of time and effort to draw a face on a brick, but Amy was lucky to have a team of employees ready to face the challenge.

Atmosphere is highly overrated anyway...

Well, I'm sure anyone who's ever run a sim business of their own is probably standing slack jawed in awe at the decision to hire SIX employees for a business with no reputation and next to nothing to sell, but Amy was blazing new trails, and didn't yet realize the money pit this would turn her business into. The worst decision of all though was keeping the cashiers on the job while the business wasn't even open and the crafters did their thing - it didn't occur to her until later that she didn't need to keep ALL the employees at work if they weren't needed. So basically, there was a lot of money going out, and next to nothing coming in. The Andrews family had a fair amount of money saved up from Amy and Clarence's regular jobs, but between the cost of buying the business and paying half a dozen employees while selling next to nothing, Andrews Radio Shock was shockingly "in the red".

Elrond: "This is easy for me…I'm a Level 40 metal worker!"

Another lesson Amy learned the hard way is that employees like to be paid according to their skill level. After a few days of cranking out goods from the work tables, the employees started to gain some talent badges, but their wages didn't change at all. Elrond was the first to respond to this in disgust, and promptly turned in his name tag. Amy quickly made sure everyone else was getting paid according to their skills, which just made financial matters worse. Eventually, a light bulb went on in her head, and she realized she could cut corners and save a few bucks by sacking part of the work force and doing some of the work herself - and even making Clarence lend her a hand here and there. Elmer and Schroeder were the first to get laid off, which they seemed a little too happy about, then Austyn was eventually let go. All the while, the robots and bricks kept on coming…

Progress of sorts - going from selling a few crappy robots to lots of crappy robots.

As time went on, Amy began to get a grasp on some of the finer points of the whole sales thing. She discovered she could sell more junky toy robots if she interacted with all potential customers, and could convince them they actually needed the stupid things (it got trickier convincing them they needed two or three after they bought the first one already). Amy produced a few rover bots and even some hover bots as time went on, but the amount of time it took to make them just didn't seem worth the profit the robots brought in. Despite the great efforts Amy was making toward pushing her merchandise, she started to get the impression that maybe the ugly atmosphere might be driving customers away. And so, she invested a great chunk of money in giving the outside of the building a bit of a face lift…

Because nothing says "successful business" light a giant fake gorilla...

I'm sure nobody really looks that closely, but the gorilla was added first, then later, some carpet in place of the ugly floor tiles. I didn't get a picture of the gorilla till AFTER the carpet was laid, which is why the picture above shows carpet, and the ones below still show ugly floor. So, there…for the one person who probably would have noticed that and called me on it, you've got nothing! Anyway, by some miracle, the whole exterior decorating thing actually seemed to have some effect on the moods of the customers, though nothing as dramatic as Amy had been hoping for, given the cost of the fake gorilla (it would take selling about a billion little robots to make up for the gorilla to begin with). Well, for what it was worth, the gorilla was there, but it was only part of the new selling strategy. Amy decided it was time for Clarence to step up to the plate and do a little more to support the business.

Move over, Ronald McDonald…it's the Radio Shock Gorilla!

Yes, every successful business needs a mascot, and since Amy was hoping Radio Shock would eventually qualify as successful, it seemed a good idea to take care of the mascot thing right away. It wasn't like it was costing anything to have Clarence be the mascot, since he's her husband, the gorilla suit was already paid for. Amy eventually settled on crafting robots herself during regular work hours, having Clarence help craft when the business was closed, and let Mia Kay and Katrina take care of making toys when they weren't working the register. Thus far, it turned out to be the closest thing to an efficient system she'd developed since opening Radio Shock. Clarence seemed to get the hang of working with customers quickly, because everyone loves a gorilla…

Clarence: "Uh, yes, I also happen to be Mayor…"

Eventually, Amy decided to give the inside of the place a little bit of a face lift. For starters, she installed the aforementioned carpet in favor of the ugly gray floor tile. She decided to do away with most of the toy related merchandise to just focus on robots instead, and the remaining toys were moved up to little "impulse buy" racks by the registers (this turned out to be a horrible move, since customers who stopped to look at them wound up blocking the checkout line). Amy also started stocking a couple varieties of hoverbot and roverbot, though it still took so long to make them that it still seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Given the number of enemies most sims in town have, though, and their tendency to dump garbage on the floor, the Sentrybot and Cleanbot became fast favorites around town.

Katrina: "Um…aren't there supposed to be customers here or something?"

It took an extremely long time, but eventually, the whole business thing began to find its own rhythm. Amy and Clarence would go in at unholy hours to start crafting robots, call in the girls a while later to make a few bricks and clowns-in-a-box, then start the business day. Naturally, Katrina and Mia Kay would eventually get tired, at which time Amy would send them home, and have Clarence man the registers. In other words, things kept going from the crack of dawn until the wee hours of the night, and sometimes after. It was hard to close the business though as long as there was always one more customer close to buying an item, and anyone who's ever played knows that a semi-decent business will ALWAYS have someone who fits that category…

Vyn: "Can I really leave without buying one of those bricks with a face?"

Eventually, all of Amy's hard work at the robot bench resulted in a gold talent badge, granting her the ability to craft the fabled servos. Little did she realize that creating one was a day long process. Regardless, she eventually finished her first Servo, and couldn't figure out how to activate him. It took a while to figure out that this was because she was on a community lot, but she eventually got it home, and decided to activate it as a "male". Thus, C-3PO Andrews was born. I thought the whole spawning Aimee Andrews as a plant sim was an odd way to build a family, but somehow, adding a robot was even weirder. Nobody (including me) had any idea what to expect from "Threepio", but the family hoped he'd at least keep the house clean. Well, he did a little of that, but mainly, he just cooked meals when they weren't needed and played around on the computer instead of doing chores…

C-3PO: "But checking my email IS a chore!"

Despite the outrageous cost of building a servo, and the ridiculous amount of time required to craft them, lots of folks wanted to buy them, so Amy started making sure there was one out on the floor whenever possible. You know how these things go - one person gets something, and suddenly, everyone else wants it. C-3PO would always be the first, though. During the brief time she wasn't running the business and Clarence was doing the Mayor thing, Amy got a chance to study Threepio a little better, and realized they had a lot in common. No surprise, since he took on the characteristics of Amy when she activated him. The thing that DID come as a surprise was that Amy had the hots for C-3PO. If he has so many of her characteristics, does that mean she has the hots for herself? I just don't want to know!

Amy: "You are one fine hunk of robot!"

Threepio, in turn, had the hots for Amy. Okay, things were getting a little too disturbing for my tastes. Vampires, werewolves, and even plant sims I can deal with, but robots lusting after their sim masters just sort of makes my skin crawl, as does the fact that they seem to have the full collection of romantic interactions available to use. Amy decided she'd either have to deactivate C-3PO before he got out of hand, or make him a companion he could properly direct his affection toward. And so, Amy brought home a second servo, activated it as a female, and named her Dot Matrix. Since Dot was essentially the robot version of Amy, the plan worked. Still, there would be no "woo wooing" robots any time soon. I just can't deal with the visual…

C-3PO: "Where have you been the whole week I've been alive?"

Yes, the plan worked, but now, there were two robots running around the house, occasionally doing chores, but mostly cooking more unnecessary meals, using the household recreation items, and bugging Clarence and Amy while they tried to do their own thing. Luckily, the robots featured a "power down" function, and Amy decided enough was enough for the time being. Threepio and Dot were switched off, and stored in the piano room, where they were kept most of the time the family was home. Amy discovered she could call the robots up when at Radio Shock and have them help around the store when needed for free, and they'd be right back where they'd been in the house when she got home. Clever.

Amy: "I should have just stuck to toy robots!"

Yes, the arrival of each new weird sim type as I get each of the expansions is always a glorious moment, although I've got to say that the servos are the strangest to me. Despite the strange behavior of the pair Amy activated, hers were pretty mild compared to some we'll see down the road. Anyway, Amy's business has started to pick up a little steam, but will she ever get out of the financial hole she dug herself in the beginning? Will Clarence resent having to dress like a gorilla every day? These questions may someday be answered. Tomorrow, however, we'll drop in on the younger Wilson family as they discover some surprising news about one of their own. For now, that's all, folks!


At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool store! Hope Amy makes a success of her business.
Sims can make their own Servos in Sims 2?
After reading your posts, I now have Sims 2 envy!

At 4:48 AM, Blogger Majik Monkee said...

Yes, that's one of the special bonuses of Sims 2 "Open for Business". You can make them if you gain enough talent with the robot making bench. I love the "odd sims" like servos and vampires from Sims 2. :-)


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