Been thinking about getting home and writing this blog all day! It’s funny how a trip down memory lane once a week can be so enjoyable!
Last Tuesday, I was telling you about the Rhyme Charts and how they came to be, and we touched on P for Price, remember? Well this week, I wanted to talk to you about P for Placement. Because let’s face it, you may have created the loveliest hand-knitted scarves and gloves in the world, but if you are trying to sell them in July, outside a swimming pool in Florida, don’t hold your breath. I learned about P for Placement the hard way...
So as I was telling you last month, I was living the dream - or so it seemed - in Monterey. The kids were beautiful,
and my brother Steve and I were selling our Rhyme Charts and Stamps in Northern California mostly.
Now you may or may not have heard of Folsom? Johnny Cash put it on the map with his Folsom Prison Blues, but Folsom will remain forever etched in my mind as the Business lesson to learn about Placement. Many of you who do Table-top sales will totally understand this, but what possessed me to book the Folsom Chili Cook-off as a venue I will never know.
We found our spot on the boardwalk, and set up our lovely stand. It was a bit daunting when we noticed that as far as we could see, to the left and to the right, all we could see was camp stoves and huge vats of chili. Yes, you heard right, spicy, hot, steaming Chili. And then there was Steve and myself with our lovely, laminated Victorian Rhyme Charts.
For us Brits, this was a pretty unique experience. People were pouring through the street, going from stall to stall, from vat to vat, tasting all the chilli as they went. When they got to us, they would look at us quizzically, and check out the rhyme charts, put them down and walk on to the next chilli vat. Anybody who has had even a little taste of this soul destroying, embarrassing, frustrating, rejecting, depressing and downright humiliating experience, will love what happened next.
I was trying to keep smiling, because that’s what it said in the Handbook, under "What to do when in Folsom at a Chili Cook-Off when you haven’t sold a single Rhyme Chart’. And all the time, my brother was sitting behind me in the shade, watching this debacle. (It must have been 100 degrees!). So a couple waddled up and asked me, “What are these?”, and suddenly my Brother jumped up and answered, “They’re Funnels; English Chili funnels.” He proceeded to show them how you could hang them on your arm, roll them up and wipe them clean! And he sold one!! He actually sold one!! I don’t know whether the mad glint in his eye persuaded them, or the fact that he was 6ft 4" in his socks when he stood up, but who cares! A sale’s a sale!
Sometimes we got the placement right! I remember doing an open day at a really fabulous Children’s Toy Store in Sacramento; it was uplifting and successful - and as we know, days like these give us hope.
Can I tell you about another dire P for Placement I got myself into? Sometimes, you may be in a good position at a show, but then you get the neighbour from hell! I remember a Street festival in San José. The sun was beating down, I had set up my Rhyme Charts, and stamps and bits n bobs, when this old couple turned up in a pick-up truck, pitched their gazebo next to me, and started unloading their gear. Their main products were old cowboy boots converted into birdhouses. You know, cut a hole out of the side for the door, and stick a little plywood roof on it. Fair enough. (and I cannot believe I still have a photo to mark the spot!!!). Go on, get your magnifying glass out..
But they also had these really primitive stakes lashed up to look like crosses, and on the crosses someone had written with a black marker pen, “Here lies the body of the last cat that sh*t in my Yard”. And they sold like hotcakes! He was making them up as fast as the wife could take the money! And I sat in the shade of my little gazebo, with my lovely, educational Rhymecharts and stamps, watching this, and it was actually then that I had another moment of Clarity.
TIME TO GO HOME.
So farewell America, and hello Blighty!
Next week maybe we can talk about P for Perseverance!
One thing’s for certain: I was not an overnight sensation!
I definitely took the scenic route!