This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Zapped by Zappos!

        If you are a shoe fanatic then you've probably heard about by now.  If you don't know about this website, it's a site where you can find just about any shoe that's on the market.  And now they're not just shoes, but they also sell clothes, accessories, housewares, and I could go on, but why should I when you could go to their website and check it out for yourself.

        My first awareness of was last year when I read founder Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness and gave my review on Tossing It Out.  I was impressed by the story and the company's philosophy.  In the book there was a mention that Zappos was located in Henderson, Nevada which is near Las Vegas and that they gave facility tours.  When I realized that I was going to be staying in Henderson during my recent visit to Las Vegas, I remembered that Zappos was there and made the Zappos tour a priority on my Vegas activity list.  In my previous post I told the story of how I was able to make the connection to get on a special tour.   This was to be a memorable day.

Zappos Henderson, Nevada

        We found the Zappos building in an industrial center not far off the free way that will take you from Henderson to Las Vegas.  If we had not had the address we might have missed it as I did not see any signs identifying the place.  We parked and went to what appeared to be the main entrance.  It was locked, but we could hear laughter coming from within--it sounded like a party and it seemed that a lot of people inside were having a good time.  A delicious aroma of food--what I guessed to be barbecue--emanated from within the building.  We found an open door that led to the kitchen from whence the smell wafted.  A cook saw us at the door and directed us to the other side of the building.

        Upon finding the proper door, we entered and were greeted by the friendly reception staff who had us sign in for the tour and receive our ID badges.  Others joined us who would be taking the tour.  They were from various marketing conventions that were being held in Vegas and had arranged for a special Friday tour.

         As we looked about the reception area, my wife whispered to me, "Everybody looks so happy."

        "Happiness is their specialty here," I told her.  "Zappos delivers happiness and I guess they've done it with this group."

          Once everyone had gathered for the tour we were led to a room where we watched a brief introductory video presented by Zappos culture guide Jon Wolske.  The video explained the short version history of Zappos, but there were probably few in the room who didn't know the story already. I could tell these were avid Zappos fans who were there to learn.   This is one of the primary goals of the Zappos tour--to show other retailers and web site owners how a successful dot com works and teach them how they can apply the knowledge to their own business.  I am impressed by the Zappos willingness to share and to teach others in business.

          We were divided into groups of eleven to make things more manageable for our guides and comfortable for us.  I was glad that our group was led by Jon Wolske.  He was friendly, helpful, and quite entertaining.  We were also accompanied by a department manager by the name of Jessica Davis.  There was not an unfriendly person in the building.

Las Vegas Building
Zappos Henderson, Nevada
         Jon led us through the various departments of the call center.  There is no product in this location as the shipping warehouse is near Louisville, Kentucky.   Everyone is free to dress pretty much as they like so long as it is not offensive.   They can also decorate their work spaces as they like.  Certain work areas had special themes.  Everywhere we went we saw happy employees who looked like they were having one heck of a good time.

         Next we continued to the room from where my wife and I had earlier heard the laughter.  It was the cafeteria.   Most employee food and drink here is free.  Employees also can opt for hot meals for three dollars.  Anyway you look at it, the employees get quite a food bargain.  Jon told us that the only drinks they do charge for are the energy drinks.  We were invited to help ourselves to a snack before we moved on.

         Heading to another area filled with workstations with phones and computers, we could see more employees having a good time at work.  Jon explained that on a Friday there were not as many people working as on the other weekdays, which is why they normally don't have Friday tours.
         Zappos attempts to avoid the negative connotations of "customer service" and instead cultivates customer loyalty.  They want customers to come away from their experiences dealing with Zappos feeling good about it and telling their friends.  The intent is to keep customers coming back to become regular shoppers.

         The tour was filled with more information than I'll share here today.  What I will say is that the staff was welcoming and delightful.  This is a company that I would want to deal with because I think they genuinely have an interest in pleasing the customer in order to keep them loyal.  Learning about the culture of the company made me envious that there are not more places like this to work in.  If I lived in the Las Vegas area I would like to have a job at

        At the end of the tour our group was gathered at the Throne of Royalty to have our photo taken.  It's the photo you can see below.  That's me sitting on the throne.  The other tour members encouraged me to sit in the throne.  I guess because I looked the oldest.  My wife is the beaming lovely lady standing in the center forefront of the photo.  Don't we look like a happy bunch?  Our hosts sent each of us on our way with a copy of Tony Hsieh's book and another book about the employee culture.  Every one of us left satisfied.  Once again Zappos delivered.

Our tour group at the Throne of Royalty

If you're interested in taking a tour you can find more information at:

Here's a video with testimonials about the Zappos experience:

         One final note:  I do not work for Zappos nor was I given any remuneration for this blog post.  This is all based on the fun time I had visiting and for the valuable information I received on the tour.  It was something I wanted to do.

           Have you dealt with  If so, how was your experience?    (My sister told me she has purchased several things from them and has always been pleased.)   Are there any other company tours you have taken that were special experiences?



  1. Interesting! It sounds like a good company to deal with and to work for. In our dealings with American companies we have always been impressed by their efficiency and helpfulness. Nothing is too much trouble and our names are remembered, even after just one encounter.

  2. What an unterestung tour, must say I would have enjoyed that.
    Loved the photo, you look everybit "The King" your lady wife looks lovely, a photo for you to treasure.

    Have a great week-end.

  3. Sounds like my kind of people! ☺ My BIL's family is near Louisville, and my sister tells me often of the Zappos store and her great finds. What a fun tour you had! I like their philosophy, and will check out their site. Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Friday! ☺

  4. No, I'm not a 'shoe person.' But that's cool you got to take the tour.

  5. I had never heard of Zappos before. It sounds like a fantastic place to work. I hope their retirement and benefits packages are good as well.

  6. I ordered some shoes from Zappos in like 2005, and I swear I kid you not: I placed the order at like 9 PM, and the package arrived at 10:30 AM the next morning.

  7. Interesting post. I love it when we share non-writing related parts of our lives with each other. Inspirational. And, unlike Alex, I AM a shoe person. I blame that on my daughter, though. lol Enjoy your weekend.

  8. Yay, I can finally post on blogger again:)

    Taking in this post and your last; how cool, for one, that you were just able to take a quick trip somewhere fun. I've not been to Vegas myself living in the east but I hear it is quite the experience.
    My second thought is that luck must follow you:) I mean the Zappos place is closed and you happen to stay at the hotel where the lady working there has a in? Very cool!

    I would have to say my favorite tour was of the...hmm, I was going to say the Makers Mark distillery, but I don't think I have actually been there. We live in KY so most people have and I've heard so many stories about how neat it is I thought they were my own for a second. Whoops:)

  9. I seldom order any sort of clothing on line because it never seems to fit properly, but if I do, I'll order from Zappos. Any company who makes an effort to keep their employees happy deserves my business. Thanks for posting this!
    My favorite tour was back in the early 70s when we toured the Hershey factory. This was back in the days before excess litigation, and we were in the actual factory, sometimes even up on a catwalk. Very cool!

  10. Sounds like an interesting time. I haven't ordered anything for Zappos.

  11. This is the first I've heard of Zappos. Interesting.

    I took a tour of the Hershey's plant in Hershey, Penn. Nothing like seeing a small mountain of foil-wrapped Kisses, not to mention the huge vats of chocolate being stirred. By the time I left I didn't know if I'd ever be able to eat chocolate again, the aroma was so over-powering.

  12. Janice -- Building customer loyalty makes sense--there's plenty of competition out there.

    Yvonne -- I've always been fascinated how businesses operate or how things are made. The Zappos folks helped make the tour a special event.

    Larri -- The company philosophy is great. Jon was telling us about the outlet store Kentucky and the great deals that can be found there.

    Alex-- but I'm sure you wear shoes. I like to try on shoes before I buy them, but if I could get a good deal online and not have to go anywhere that would be cool.

    Delores -- I noted that there was a mention somewhere about a retirement program, but from what I could see the medical package looked very good.

    Matthew -- I've heard similar stories about their service. The reason why their fulfillment center is in Louisville is because that's where the central hub for UPS is and Zappos mostly ships through them.

    S.A. -- After all, we all have to read about something other than writing sometimes :)

    Deana -- Distillery and brewery tours can definitely be pretty neat. I did the Jack Daniels tour in Lynchburg, TN many years back and it was delux.

    Li -- And the main thing to the Zappos customer is that they are trying to make the customer happy. I've heard that the Hershey's tour is excellent. I'd love that one!

    Wanda-- I have found most business tours to be interesting, but I'm into that sort of thing.


  13. Bish -- I've seen things on TV about the Hershey's tour in PA. I took the tour of the Hershey's Canada plant in the early 1980s. You're right about the overpowering smell of chocolate--but I can think of worse things to smell.


  14. Wow, they really impressed you. That is great to hear about a company.

    Your experience makes me think of Chick-Fil-A. We have NEVER had a bad experience there. They hire teens to man the counter and they are so polite and happy. It is a joy to eat there.

    The Write Soil

  15. Arlee,

    I am so glad we were able to get you in and that you enjoyed the experience! It is my pleasure to be able to share our culture with visitors (as a career!).

    I recently visited the Fulfillment Center in KY and took the Jim Beam tour. While I discovered that I am definitely a Scotch guy, I enjoyed the tour. The guide was amazing (I hope I do a tour as well as he did his!) and I still think of the warehouse with 20,000 barrels of Beam aging, it was amazing.

    Thanks for this post, too. It is always nice to see the impact of the tour.

    Take care!


  16. Sounds like a wonderful place! Treating employees w/ respect is what it's all about.

    I like how you are sitting in the throne wearing a crown. In fact, how great that every1 else is wearing crowns or tiaras. Sure looks like you had a great tour!

    Unfortunately, I have to try on shoes before I buy 'em.

  17. Zappos is one of the finest online shops you can find all kinds of sneakers, footwear and stuffs at.The owner a Chinese American and he is really a good guy.Thanks for sharing what you know about shoes on here.
    Hope u good.I just dropped another bomb of a poem on my blog so come check it out, comment and share with friends.Good day.

  18. I did not know companies gave tours let alone made them fun. WOW! I have always planned on getting shoes from them but I put it off till the last minute and then end up having to shop locally and that is nice sometimes but limits my selection. thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

  19. B-B-B-Bird!-Bird!-Bird!
    B-B-Bird is the King!
    B-B-Bird is the King!

    Dang, man! Why don't you apply for a job there, get it, and move to Zapposville?

    You got ME thinkin' about trying that my own bad self!

    Yeah, it's hotter'n'ell there, but so is Phoenix. If I'm gonna live in the heat of hell, I might as well have a good job to sweat to.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  20. This is interesting! Yes, I have been ordering from Zappos for a number of years; they're a favorite of mine. There's a warehouse about an hour away from here in KY, so when I order something, it comes within a day or two - I like that! But even when I lived in NJ, my stuff came very quickly. Thanks for the "tour"!

    Have a great weekend!

  21. Dawn -- Yes, I was very impressed after reading Delivering Happiness and more so after touring the call center. Chick-Fil-A is another happy place for sure.

    Jon -- You were a wonderful tour guide and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I've only done one distillery tour and I loved it. I'd like to see the Jim Beam facility and all of those aging barrels of Beam.

    Lisa from Nadir --Zappos sounds like a better place to work the "The Factory" that you write about. I also feel better about trying on shoes before I buy them, but my sister says she hasn't had any problems buying like that.

    Ebenezer -- Unfortunately Tony Hsieh wasn't there to meet when I visited, but I sure liked getting to know him through his book.

    Jacqueline --There are many companies that offer tours and every one that I gone on was at least very interesting if not a lot of fun.

    Better -- I would not be surprised if they did start delivering to Canada eventually. It only makes sense to me.

    StMc -- At least you can have more fun in the Vegas heat. Those casinos stay pretty cool. If my wife didn't have her good job and benefits, moving to Zapposville might be something I'd consider. There is one thing about Zappos that I don't think you'd like, but you'll have to investigate that for yourself cause I ain't gonna mention it here.

    Karen -- Have you checked out the Zappos outlet store in Shepherdsville? Sounds like they have some great deals there.


  22. I LOVE Zappos. I have ordered (too many) shoes from them. They are faster than lightening, have great deals and if you need to return for any reason, the process is easy.

    Interesting to see the behind the scenes!


  23. I have to admit, I never heard of Zappos. Silly me. I thought Disneyland was the happiest place on earth :)

  24. Have never heard of Zappos. Wonder if they have good running shoes in my budget size. I'll check it out. Thanks!

  25. I have ordered from Zappos and have been very satisfied. I'd do it again in a minute...and now, after reading this...I'd order again in a second!

  26. I have been on their site a couple times but I have never bought anything. I like the fact that it seems to be a genuinely happy work place. Everyone I know who has bought something from them has been satisfied so maybe I'll have to have another look since the wife is out of town...he he he.

  27. Sig -- I like going behind the scenes to see what things are like where we normally can't see.

    Rhonda -- As I mentioned on my previous post, Las Vegas is like Disneyland for adults, so a visit to Zappos is like one of the rides.

    Pebbles-- If they didn't have a shoe you were looking for I'd be surprised.

    Liza -- So I guess by now you've already ordered something--did you get it yet?

    Chuck -- Word of mouth is the best advertising!


  28. It sounds like they are dedicated to the Happiness Project! How fun to be in a setting like this; I mean how happy lol it would be~

    Thanks for sharing; Amazon delivers me happiness, but I will check out Zappos ;D

  29. That work environment sounds like a dream!

    I haven't ordered anything from Zappos yet, but I drool over their website all the time.

  30. I have always had great succcess with Zappos when they just sold shoes. Im so glad to ehaar this about this company. As I have had ahppy service with them. I am happy to know it wasnt just a chance thing but a way of doing buiness.I wil have to put this on the tour and travel route in the futrue thank you Arlee.

  31. BOIDMAN ~
    I'll bet I can guess what that is, because it had already occurred to me even as I was typing my first comment: The vast majority of what they sell is Made In China.

    How'd I do?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  32. Sounds like a wonderful shopping experience. Thanks for the info and lead.

    Have a wonderful 4th weekend!

  33. Wow! I am quite jealous that you had the chance to tour Zappos, but I am glad that you had such a wonderful experience. That tour is certainly on my Must-See list and I hope to get there soon. I would love to work for Zappos - that is the exact culture and fitting where I know I can thrive!

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Keep Smiling,
    Vanessa from Optimal Optimist

  34. I read the book and thought that it was great, I would love to do the tour, will check out the link. Have a blessed day. Amanda

    Amanda - Realityarts-Creativity
    Art Blog

  35. Awesome. I've not heard of Zappos but I would SO go there if they sell shoes! ;)

  36. Ella -- With the good customer service some of these internet companies are delivering, our local brick and mortar retailers need to start paying attention before they all go out of business.

    Karen -- I really want to find a work environment like that if I have to go out and work a regular job.

    Beth -- If you are interested in business or if you just like Zappos as a company, the tour is well worth your time.

    StMc -- I didn't even think of that part, but you are probably correct on that one since nearly everything seems to be made in China these days. I am thrilled that they actually have their call center in the United States. Now that's a change from current trends!

    Marvin -- For internet shopping it does sound pretty good from all that I've heard.

    Vanessa -- There is such a positive and optimistic drive at Zappos that I think you'd love it. I can thank you for initially making me aware of Zappos.

    Amanda -- If you've read the book and enjoyed it, then you must visit it person. It's just like Tony Hsieh talks about in the book.

    Talei -- Check out their website and you'll see plenty of shoes.


  37. I had heard of the shoes but didn't realize the company was so much more. Thanks for the tour and info. It's encouraging to know that there are still some companies that make their employees and visitors feel like royalty.

    Hope you have a great holiday! Happy 4th of July!

  38. Any company that would feed me has a clear advantage. I hope you have a wonderful fourth.


  39. Sounds like a very interesting tour! It's nice to have a behind the scenes look at such a successful shoe company. I didn't realize that they expanded their sales line. Julie

  40. I love going on tours like that. It looks like it was alot of fun. Great post! Blessings, Joanne

  41. Sounds like a fantastic tour! Word of mouth really is the best publicity, and your word of mouth is glowing!

  42. W2W -- Loyalty of customers and employees is essential to the life of a business.

    Joyce -- Being provided meals is a big plus, and it looked like they were being provided some good fare including fresh fruit.

    Julie -- Company tours can be so interesting. I guess Zappos expanded their line in the past few years after the shoe business proved so successful.

    Joanne -- I would love to just travel around visiting company tours. There are many of them.

    Amie -- Getting a positive word of mouth vibe is a Zappos goal and apparently it's been working well for them.


  43. Hi Lee .. great tour .. Zappos certainly seems to have got their concept right ..

    Customer loyalty makes a company .. cheers - thanks so much .. Happy 4th July .. Hilary

  44. This is wonderful. I love Zappos. I work in theater and we order shoes from Zappos all the time. Glad you had fun on the tour. My favorite tour was a tour of Target Field, the Minnesota Twins' new stadium. That was the most fun I've ever had on a tour.

  45. Hilary -- Building and maintaining strong customer loyalty is so important and a lot of companies don't seem to care.

    Carrie -- You'd probably enjoy the Zappos tour. Behind the scenes tours can be great. I've been wanting to take the tour of Disney Concert Hall here in Los Angeles.


  46. Oops! I deleted the following comment by Brianna--sorry:

    I've never ordered from Zappos before but I'm certainly eager to now! I'm very impressed! It sounds like an awesome place to work.

    I am impressed by the Zappos willingness to share and to teach others in business.
    Wow! That impresses me too :)

    Briana -- Yes I am impressed by the openness of that Zappos shows.



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