Saturday, December 29, 2007

Vendors' World

Some die-hard vendors invited me to work with them to learn the trade. I found that it is lucrative and a means to grow an empire. The empire is there only if you have a plan. Many vendors deal with the enterprise on its elemental level, though. It's a pity.

My days of traveling to suburban schools, churches and malls were eye-opening. I saw, on-the-ground, the state of the US' economy. Visitors to the shows deliberated over spending $10, $15 and $20 on items. Though the merchnadise was pricetagged, people hoped for a bargain. Even $5 and $3 rings were studied. The veteran vendors repeatedly stated, "Last time this year we made 2 to 3 times more." I noticed too much bashing of customer behavior--right within people's earshot. Forgive me, I learned to sell at a top radio station in D.C.--WHUR-FM. I stuffed media kits, updated rate cards, studied Arbitron ratings and went out with the AEs. There wasn't time for bashing clients; we were thinking of the presents to give them and ensuring spots aired when promised. Did these vendors know they were watering their crop with vinegar?

The beauty of vending is that it's unadulterated retail. You set up your temporary shop, turn on the credit card processing machine, consider your prices and do a lot of smiling at strangers. I was a very active vendor, helping people try on merchandise, holding the mirror and answering questions. The woman I vended for doesn't believe in mark up and mark down. I spoke to her about inventory but she doesn't mind that she holds stuff for years. Many vendors read books, talk on their cell phones or fix broken merchandise. One venue was a killer: 8 am to 11 pm. I didn't know I had the stamina. One night at 11 o'clock, a woman came over to me as I was about to cover the display. She had a blouse in her hand and searching for the right ear rings and necklace. Was she for real? Yes, after twenty minutes of laying different ear rings and necklaces on the blouse, she made her purchase with me. It turns out she was the mall manager.

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