Friday, November 26, 2010
Black Friday: Shack Friday
So, I was compelled to work Black Friday at the local Radio Shack.
We were supposed to be there at 5:30am but arrived late because Mom's truck had to be pushed onto the shoulder and towed home. RIP.
The thing that really made this Black Friday memorable was not the four year old who won the XBox 360 in a raffel. It was not the child who wanted to touch everything and nearly broke my Prime8 display unit. It was not the free hot dogs that made the store smell like a crazy cat lady's apartment.
No. Those things will fade from my memory, sure enough, with time.
What really made this Black Friday memorable to me was the reminder of how awesome I am at selling things.
I know that I lack humility in saying this, but I can push product!
When I was a kid my sister and I split a paper route. We mainly delivered papers to a community of elderly citizens who lived a few blocks away from our house. Sunday papers were always massively bloated with ads and the double front/back pockets would bulge with a weight comparable to my own at eleven years old. In the summer it was hot and tiring work. Putting up with the crazy dogs and particular -- and peculiar -- residents. By the time winter rolled around, with the icy wind that penetrated even the most carefully insulated costume of thermals and snow gear, we had just about had enough.
We were paid about 50 cents per paper delivered per day. With 53 papers to deliver on our route we made only 53 dollars every two weeks. Then we split it.
At Christmas time the Quincy Herold Whig gave us calenders for the upcoming year to "sell" to the residents on our route. This was to be our Christmas bonus.
I knocked on doors as I delivered papers and explained to the residents that I was selling the calenders and would appreciate anything they chose to pay after the cost of printing.
From this I learned a few things: Most people's houses smell funny. Some old people collect dolls -- the ones that look remarkably like toddlers are really creepy. Scary dogs are even more scary up close -- even if they have had their teeth removed. The crankiest person on the route is probably just lonely and really does have a good reason for insisting that their paper is placed in a very particular place. I can sell things.
Of those who were home and chose to open their door to cold little girl, I collected a pretty penny -- much more per house than I got for leaving their daily paper. Halfway through the route I started feeling bad and chose to put off the beg-a-thon. The people were nice and everything, but stepping into one more house that smelled of soup was not on my to-do list that evening. Plus, I was worried about being murdered, but that's a story for another day.
Working the candy counter for the local drive in movie theater I was very adept at getting customers to splurge on the combo deal for two large drinks, a medium popcorn and a candy -- it's like getting the candy for free. I'd also suggest that you get a sno cone for only $1, or perhaps you'd like a licorice whip for the kids to share. Feeling like more than just a bag of popcorn, but don't want to get a hot dog for each person? How about splitting a pizza? It's made fresh (frozen pizza baked real fast in a pizza oven) and I'll deliver it straight to you if you want to go out and enjoy the movie while it's cooking!
If the chips were going stale we would suddenly have a lot of call for nachos -- I'd also make sure to pack them with all of the chips I could shove in one container. If I'd just popped a fresh batch of popcorn, you'd better bet that I was going to get rid of it by pointing out how hot and fresh it was!
For a girl who had a hard time looking people in the eye and was relearning how to smile at the age of 16, I could really push product.
I generally use my talent to sell things that also help people feel like they have performed their good deed for the day. Charity races. Sugar cookies with proceeds going to charity. Coupon books with proceeds going toward sending the orchestra to an out of state competition. Girl Scout cookies with proceeds going to the local troop -- oh, wait, I didn't do so hot on that one because someone usurped my territory. Who needs to be a Girl Scout, anyway?
Today I helped sell toys. Toys for greedy children who don't really need more toys. Toys from Santa/MomandDad. Toys with cool names that do fun things and have expansion packs sold separately and require batteries that are not included.
I love toys.
It's easy to sell something that you love because the customer can sense when someone is lying about how awesome something really is -- it's like evolution has equipped consumers with a 6th sense for being cheated.
But I don't cheat people. I point out the amazing deals and get them to buy really cool stuff that will keep their kids entertained for at least the remainder of Christmas break -- after opening presents and before shuffling off to school again.
I did it to help my parent's store. I did it because I was bored of dusting shelves. I did it because I attended the Radio Shack expo this summer and got the play with the products first hand. I did it because it was fun.
Demonstrating the Hexbug Nano and Habitat was by far my favorite thing of the day. Hexbugs are just plain cool. The Nano is about an inch long and just vibrates on tiny rubber feet that propel the bug in one direction with the single-minded purpose of doing one thing: going forward. When multiple Nanos are put in the Habitat to maneuver the tight corridors and little rooms it's really fun to watch them and see which one has enough umph to push the others around. It's mesmerizing. I got kids and adults hooked on the little gizmos. At 50% off, you really can't beat the price of a Habitat set which includes two Nanos. Particularly when the sale price is less than the cost of two Nanos on their own -- it's like getting the Habitat for free.
Too bad the sale ended today.
You should have bought one in Tooele.
I would have sold it to you and not felt bad at all.