Monday, September 28, 2009
Igor's Sage Advice to the First-time Real Changer
So you've decided to sell Real Change. Good for you! With the economy in the crapper and all, why not? I guess you already know that the Real Change organization is on your side. Not only are they located in Belltown, but their headquarters is in my apartment building, so I've seen the positive results of their work firsthand. No argument there. They are very sincere in their efforts. But sometimes new vendors of the Real Change newspaper are a little unsure of how to go about selling it. Well, based on my longtime proximity to Real Change, I've assembled a few guidelines that may enhance your experience. Here they are:
1. Don't sell your newspapers right outside the Real Change office. You'd be surprised how many people do this. You've got your papers and you're telling everyone about what Real Change is. Well, everybody already knows. They know you're standing five feet away from the front of door of Real Change headquarters and you're wondering why everybody's laughing at your profound lack of initiative. The sad fact is that people within a certain radius around the Real Change office are jaded and they won't buy your newspaper under any circumstances. It's probably better to find a corner that's more removed from Real Change central. It may be a little less convenient for you, but at least it shows a little moxie.
2. Don't brawl with your fellow vendors over turf. Location is important, but nobody will want to buy from somebody with a bloody nose and various contusions.
3. Conversely, five vendors on a corner is way too many. Sometimes there can be too much solidarity and cooperation; people will feel like they're experiencing Real Change overload and actively avoid your corner in the future.
4. Shtick is important, but make sure you have more than one lame joke in your arsenal. The other day, I saw a guy out selling. He kept calling out, "Real Change costs just a dollar. If you don't have a dollar, I will take a twenty." Yeah, that's kind of funny. But I ended up walking past him four times that day. Each time he made that same stale joke. Please, unemployed comedy writers, send this guy some new material, stat.
5. If you're a roving seller, don't approach people, say: "Excuse me, sir/ma'am" and just stare at them. It kind of creeps most folks out.
6. If you're crazy, take your meds before you go out to sell. People are more likely to buy from you if you're not talking to characters only you can see.
7. Don't threaten to kill people if they don't buy your paper. EVEN WORSE: threatening to kill people after they've bought your paper. Basically, don't threaten to kill anybody.
8. Guys, don't hit on every woman who walks by. You may be suave, you may have a smooth delivery, but restrain yourself. There will be plenty of time to work your magic on the female population when you're not selling a homeless newspaper.
9. After a sale, never, ever say anything like: "Thanks! Now I can have a beer with my hooker tonight." People like to think that their money is going towards more essential things, like food and shelter.
10. If you have sold to somebody, don't ask them for more money and/or cigarettes. The main point of Real Change is to give people down on their luck an alternative to panhandling. You're offering a newspaper in exchange for a dollar. If you're selling Real Change and panhandling at the same time, you're panhandling, plain and simple. It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
11. And guys, whatever you do, don't sell while you're shirtless. Nobody wants to see that. Keep that shirt on. Your modesty will be rewarded - if not on earth, then in the afterlife.
So that's my advice to you. I've seen each and every one of these things go down time and again. Just keep these 11 simple (sorry it couldn't be 10) rules in mind when you're out selling. And don't let this city's ruder residents get you down. After you've made your first million, you can reckon with them.
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Posted by Igor Keller