Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Trade Show Experience

Frontspiece for Fall Fair Programme
Bonnie called me this morning.  
I have been dying to call her to see how the trade show experience is going, but haven’t done so, thinking that she must be trying to conserve her energy.
Bonnie: Well, today is a short day – 10 am to 5 pm.  
When I began on Friday, Joaquim suggested that I take some data on my trade show experience.  How many people do I talk to? How many people walk by in a five minute period?  How many people glance at the sign?  So gathering that data has been fun.

The Rotarians are right across from me.  They know how to do the hard sell.  $200 dues for the year and you sign up to attend a weekly lunch meeting.  Promise? They have a different person in their booth every four hours and they know their market.  It is mostly businessmen who will join.  They are working their crowd.
Arta: Since I heard you were doing this, I have been thinking about watching my own dad at the Stampede where he had a booth in the late 1940’s.  He was selling insulation and had a small mock-up of a house.  The roof was hinged and would lift back.  One side of the roof was just wood.  The other was rock-wool insulation.  He would take a blow-torch to the insulation side and farmers would touch the opposite side to that and see that no heat was getting through to the wood.  Then they could see that the heat from the inside of their homes would not escape, if there was rock wool insulation in the roof.

Bonnie: I am having lots of memories of my own return:  working the Stampede; working the Academic Fairs.  I have the best marketing tool of all – chairs for people to sit down in.  Plus I am making money from recycling the empty pop cans they leave for me.   $.35 so far.  People eye my chairs and I say, “Rest yourselves.  I have one requirement.  That you take my business card.  And my card is good for you to come back and sit here anytime today.  If you come tomorrow, you will have to take another card." 

I got into one conversation with a man who asked me if I could teach him how to lip read.  “Tell me more,” I said.  “Well, my wife and I have had a great marriage for 50 years.  But in the last five years we have been fighting and it is because we are both having hearing losses.  “Email me,” I said, and I will see if I can find out some information on lip reading.  But why don’t you want to learn, instead, of how to live with a hearing loss.”  “What will that cost,” he said.  “$100 an hour,” I replied.  “Is that $100 each?”  “No, that is $100 for 2 of you, $50 each.” “If I get a bunch of neighbours, I will get it down to an affordable price.  I can see I am not willing to spend $100 on how to lip read but I am willing to spend $1000 on the stock market.”
Bonnie:  I have some advice for you.  I can give it to you now, or you can come to me with your wife and I will give it to you for $100.  Never speak to your wife again unless you are within arm’s length and never speak to her back.  The second piece of advice is, never talk to her when there is water running..  Now you can take that advice home or you can come back with her and I can give the information to her in 15 minutes which will only be $25.

Wants-to-learn-to-lip-read man:  Of course my wife isn’t going to believe me.  You know husbands and wives can’t give each other advice.
Bonnie, now to me on the telephone:  What I have learned at the Trade Fair is that people are not willing to pay anything more than $30 an hour.  People have to have extended health care to pay more and most of the people who walked by me don’t have extended health care.  Generally, people don’t value necessities that should be publicly funded.  One woman who walked by the booth works for Public Ministries and she told me that there is coverage by the public system for kids who are in care of the ministry.  The Ministry is responsible for getting to that child what it needs, when the child is in its care and though they are hoops to go through, the money is there.  And speech therapy is a necessity.

I had a psychologist stop in to see me.  She is at the end of her career and says that she has more business than she can manage, that I will eventually get enough clients.  “How long have you been in business.”
I laugh and say, three days and so far I have had three non-paying clients.  She told me to stay with it.  There is plenty of work in the community.

Thank goodness for Moiya.  She had me bring the best hook of all:  couches and chairs for people to sit on.  She also had me bring the Barton Reading Tutoring boxes and she set them up like children’s blocks, one on top of the other.  I get good questions about those.  As well, she had me bring a basket with toys in it, so children can play while I talk to their parents.  She also loaned me a cute lamp, one with circles on one side and a flower on the other.  I say to a child, take a good look at this lamp and try to remember the picture that is on it.  Then I ask them to close their eyes and when they open them again, another picture is there.  They really laugh, even if it is an old trick.

Six teenagers sat on my couches and chairs last night: grades 9 to 12, flirting with each other on a group date.  That was intense.  They don’t have anything to say.  One of them has to be the fall guy for the jokes of the others.  I was talking to them about Social Thinking, asking if any of the group know about Rock Brain, the guy who gets stuck on one idea and can’t get off.  They laughed and pointed to one in the group.  Then I asked them about Glass Man, the one who is fragile and shatters – and yes there was one of those.  And the Defeater of Fun?  Yes, they had one of those in the group, too.  I finally said, “You guys should go next door to where there are helium balloons”. 

When they got there, the woman said, I know you guys are just after the gas in the balloons to change  your voices.  I will just give you one.
The Agricultural Fair continues today, though the blow-by-blow description of it may be over.  

Arta has made me promise to take my camera to get at least one picture.



  1. Bonnie, you are making that fair far more interesting that others I am sure. Word-of-mouth my dear. Keep going and see if the WofM from this adventure lands you a client or two.

  2. I agree with Tonia. A riot! ... and if you correct me on that, i just might shatter! (being 'glass-man' and all that...)

  3. Oh I have been patiently awaiting this update! When I called your house over the weekend, Joaquim was sure to tell me you'd be busy until 10pm. He knows you well. I hope you have taken a nice looooonnng nap.