Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Overt Sales Pitch--sometimes it's actually FUN

There is a man in his 70s who wears a perfectly tailored pin-striped suit. He sits on a tiny stool as he peels carrots, and an assortment of other vegetables into a large plastic tub. His performance takes place in Union Square Park. A crowd surrounds him as he barks the wonders of what he is selling---a potato peeler. But this is no ordinary peeler as you will soon find out!! This one never rusts, it is sturdy and shiny. It will always be there when you need it.

The crowd is now at least 40 people. They are enraptured with this old man and his magical tool. Do any of these people actually peel their own vegetables? Hell, do they even COOK? As I look around the edges of the park, I can see no less than 7 restaraunts, cafes, coffee shops or gourmet food shops. Not to mention a Whole Foods that takes up half of the land mass of Manhattan.

Do any of these people even need a new potato peeler? Don't they have one in the silverware drawer that is just fine? Then, I realize it's not the peeler they are buying. It's the old man AND HIS STORY. Here are some photos of him on flickr:

The Old Man talks with great POWER and enthusiam for what he is selling. I can't remember all of the details, but I think he said he had to go off to some foreign land to have this particular tool made. Very exotic. That makes the peeler more remarkable too. My favorite part is when he has the person in the front row who is closest to him, TRY the peeler out for themselves. Well, one pull and you are hooked! He asks, "Well, now my dear, is that NOT the best, easiest and fastest peeler you've ever used." And everyone who tries it nods their heads, "Yes, it is!"

And now for the pitch. "Why not buy one for all of your friends? It's $5.00 for one peeler or FIVE peelers for $20. dollars." Now, when I got on the train this morning, I never thoughts I'd drop $5.00 on a peeler, but now somehow I'm pulling a $20.00 out of my wallet. I've seen the old man and his peeler and I like his pitch. As I'm leaving two gorgeous 20-something girls quickly make their way through the crowd. Are they late for brunch with more pretty people at Coffee Shop. Nope. The girls run up to the man as if they are stalking Bono before a show at The Garden. "We love you!" Girl number one says as she touches The Old Man on the shoulder. Girl number two chimes in, "Yea, we love listening to you!" He looks up, very briefly but does not stop peeling, "Yes, girls, I love you too." And without missing a beat, "Now, who will step up and take a pull on this great peeler?" They wait in line. Twenty dollar bill firmly in hand. For a chance to be a part of his story.

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