Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Part II - 10 Lessons I Learned from the Circus Sideshow or what the sword swallower taught me about making money

So, I set up my cart on Halloween after the mall had closed and I was very happy with my display and I started walking around checking out my cart and signage from various angles and distances when suddenly ... I spied about 100 feet or so away from me ...

(maybe 1000 feet, maybe 10 feet, I am bad with things like this)

another cart selling prints and as I got closer I realized they were .. personalized prints ... uh, wasn't I selling personalized prints?!

Now, they were cartoon pictures with very simple illustrations (not the same prints I was selling) called Friendly Folks or something or other. And the prices were 20% less than my prices and the guy selling them was super nice

(the Friendly Folks people really got their money's worth with this guy)


and having been warned about "the cart people" he brought DONUTS!

Lesson 4- Bring treats (it can never hurt to be really nice to people and people always remember the guy who brought the donuts or the girl who baked the cupcakes- note- I was not that girl)

The first few weeks were very slow. The "cart people" were up in arms that the mall wasn't doing enough to bring in better foot traffic and they were complaining about the crazy high rents. I instinctively didn't join in the whining (well, maybe on Wednesdays)- something was telling me that my stuff was cool. Something was telling me to stay positive. People would find me. I would be ok (maybe not $100,000 ok, but ok, anyway).

(although everytime I saw a customer walking around with one of those Friendly Folks personalized prints wrapped up all, well, friendly-like under their arm I did get a little knot in my stomach - luckily I was close enough to the Cinnabon store to iron out that knot with a little pastry)

Lesson 5 - There's no Crying in Baseball Retail (or whining about business being slow because the complaining is re-active and when things get tough you need to be pro-active)

(the donut guy lowered his prices - they were now 30% lower than mine- I made bigger arrows)

Soon, it was Black Friday- I had always heard this was the busiest shopping day of the year and I was ready .. sort of. The day came and things definitely picked up- the mall was packed, but I did some quick math and realized if that was my busiest day, I wasn't going to be making alot of any money.

Luckily, that busiest day of the year thing turned out to be not true and my sales went up and up everyday. The mall hours got longer and longer. I was exhausted.

The mall management told me that a very busy day was approaching; it was Macy's last one day sale of the season and my cart was right outside of Macy's main entrance. They warned me that I needed help. I didn't listen.

That night with a line wrapping around my cart and past the cosmetics counters of Macys, I called my brother and managed to sputter out just one word - "HELP" - he was there within minutes. I have never forgotten it (thank you Vinnie).

I think I would have had a breakdown if he had been at the movies or the gym or cutting his toenails or something.

The rest of the night flew by. I was down to one frame and one mat. My last customer was buying a picture of a red, white and blue uniformed hockey player which she had personalized with her son's name and number. That last mat was mint green, the last frame was hot pink. I framed her picture and turned it toward her. I couldn't even look her in the eye.

"Gorgeous. I love it!" - she exclaimed.

Vinnie and I high fived each other (I was so thankful to live in Jersey).

Lesson 6 - Get help. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You can't do it alone. Studies show that providing support is just as important as getting support. People like to help. I know I like to help.

(well, unless someone asks me to do something I don't really want to do and since I am a wee bit lazy and most things are a wee bit efforty, this could include alot of things, unfortunately)

Seriously though, I am often quite helpful.

Part III tomorrow- I will wrap up our week under the big top by answering those burning questions and my final 4 lessons, which I am pretty certain you will not want to miss- unless you have something better to do like a root canal or a makeover from your mother-in-law or something ...

penelope the sword swallower print from thestapeliacompany

5 comments:

Sherry said...

Well, I'm glad to see things are going your way, so far. I even brought cyber donuts for the morning read.

It's so true about support. Although, I am much better at giving help, then asking for it.
Hmmmmm.

xoSherry

M.M.E. said...

I can't believe that woman liked those colors together! You were SO lucky to get the colorblind lady. Haha. Great lessons so far. Thanks for giving all the support you do.

Orion Designs said...

I really don't like being left on the edge of my seat ... 2 days in a row. This better wrap up tomorrow. I need to hear that you made $100,000.

Unni Strand said...

So exciting!
But I think you are quite mean, keeping me waiting like this! I love your business tip posts!

Brenda said...

Loving this! Now off to Part III!