There are only two times during the year when I feel comfortable as a sales person. At Christmas, because people somewhat understand when you’re flustered and scatterbrained and can’t help them immediately; although this never makes them less grumpy. And during the Allied Arts Sidewalk Show held every final weekend of July here in our hometown. This year’s Sidewalk Show was the first in a long time where I was allowed to work as an actual employee and not just as a hang-around artist’s kid. Part of this, I’m sure, is only because there are only two employees at the gallery and one of them had to be at the store during the show. And I kind of doubt I would have been allowed to work the Sidewalk Show if the gallery had been already closed or if it had been on a Saturday and Sunday instead of a Friday and Saturday.
But nevertheless, Friday morning at 5:15 I literally bounced out of bed and into the bathroom to shave my legs (curly hair doesn’t require washing every day – hooray!) and to wash my face. By six, my father and I were at the mall, and by six-thirty we were in the park setting things up. At seven, I was sent to pick up artwork from a very harassed looking hotel employee and at eight the local news showed up. And when nine o’clock rolled around, we had already made our first sales.
You have to understand – the Sidewalk Show exhausts my father. Not because he sells anything. He spends maybe two hours of the entire two day show behind the sales counter. Instead, everyone and his brother and sister and aunt and guinea pig’s vet talks to him. My father is very gifted at making people feel they are his friends and he will treat you like he knows you whether he remembers who you are or not. Even if the only time he ever sees you is at this show. He spends the entire two days talking to people. The other person in the booth is responsible for the selling. Not to mention it is usually blazing hot and noisy and he has a bad back and bad knees.
I am not a gifted sales person. Although most people who know me would say I am a confident person, I am very apprehensive about sales. Most of this is due to the previous manager of the gallery. I never liked the woman, even when I was in my single digits, and no one believed me when I said she kept making passes at my father. She treated me like I would never be worth anything, like the stuck up boss’s kid, and would not teach me a thing about my father’s work so that I could not help and therefore would not be around. She yelled at me when I hung around the gallery or the show booth and so I quickly lost all confidence in myself when it came to retail interaction. And then she quit suddenly, had an affair with someone else and got a divorce from her husband. Good riddance, I say. But I digress.
Friday, we did almost five thousand dollars. A GOOD year at the Sidewalk show is possibly 10K and most of that is done on Saturday. So we were having a good year. And by the time the show was over, added to all the sales at the gallery, we did almost 20K. Go us. I was selling my little butt off all day long. Even when my manager showed up in the evening and all my confidence leaked away. Authority figures other than my father make me lose all confidence in my sales skills. I ate salmon dinner, a staple of the Sidewalk Show, and had pie and ice cream, hushpuppies, corn on the cob, the equivalent of two nalgene bottles of water, and a ham and cheese sandwich that cleaned the Boy Scouts out of small bills. And we bought soap. Friday night, I helped close up and then went home and worked more. Putting together packages of notecards for selling the next day.
Saturday was my day at the gallery. It was deplorably slow, although some guy had a heart attack in the gallery and refused to let me call 9-1-1. And I had the happy job of running all the credit card sales from Friday’s sales. And Saturday night, ToG and I headed back out to the show to finish our shopping and help pack up. We got to listen to a woman folk band singing about female anatomy (hence the title of this post) and walk around on the cool grass until our feet felt like they were about to fall off. Then we all took a happy little trip to Red Robin for dinner.
Usually about this time, we all heave a big sigh of relief and start relaxing for vacation in a few weeks. However this year, the gallery closed on Monday. We’re in the process of moving everything out. My dad recruited me to help him clean out our garage and repaint the inside. And if you’ve ever seen our garage, you’d know why I’m so exhausted. Starting sometime next week, my manager will start coming out here to work on orders from the Sidewalk Show. And although she is my friend, it still makes me a little nervous. Authority figures do that to me…
And there is no vacation to look forward to for my family. Instead, we’re all running around for soccer and gallery stuff, wedding and work stuff. It’s alright. I guess I’ll get a break come September. Hopefully…