Sometimes we need a little laugh when it comes to money. Thanks for these stories, Don!
There have been, and I suppose there will continue to be, many seminars and workshops dedicated to helping folks with the improvement of their marketing strategy – all about how to present your products or ideas so that your potential customers find them more interesting and attractive. Now the people that I grew up around would not understand that concept. To them it was “trading” and until the deal was agreed to all was fair. And a little not so much out right lying but skirting around the truth and a little exaggeration was allowed and expected.
As I have mentioned before my daddy was a breeder and trader of Walker hounds. Back in the day Walker hounds were one of the most popular breeds of hounds among the fox hunting folks in our area. One of his marketing strategies involved a piece of white string and I have seen it work several times over the years. All of the hunters put collars on their dogs for two reasons, it gave the hunter a means to hold the dog and on each collar, there was a metal tag that had the owners name and address and if possible a telephone number on it. You must remember this was years before cell phones and those of us who did have a telephone were on a party line with 4 to 8 other folks so you can imagine this was not a very reliable means of communication.
If Daddy had a hound that he really wanted to sell, before anyone showed up to shop for dogs, he would take a piece of white string and tie it to the collar of the dog. The folks looking to buy dogs or just visit would arrive. Now understand there was nothing formal about these gatherings just folks stopping by to talk dogs. After the usual bragging and lies about the last hunt and the have you seen old so and so lately questions the group would end up at the dog yard. This is when the trading and dealing began to get serious.
“What about that old thing there?” and the questions would start.
These old boys knew these hounds unless it was a new hound that Daddy had bought or traded for since the last time they were in his dog yard or hunted with him. There would be questions asked and opinions given, and examination of feet and teeth and all the while Daddy would ignore the dog with the string in its collar.
So after a while you can be sure someone would ask, ”What about that dog with that string in his collar?”
And Daddy would answer in a dismissive tone, ”You don’t want him.”
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing, but I don’t think he’s what you are looking for.”
“Tell me about him.”
“He’s all right but I don’t think you want him.”
Naturally the interested party was thinking that the reason for not wanting to sell him was that Daddy wanted him for himself.
“Why is that white string in his collar?”
“Because I have decided not to sell him and I didn’t want to forget and sell him by mistake.”
“What do you want for him?”
“I haven’t thought about selling him, I really don’t think you want him.”
This back and forth would go on for a while and finally Daddy would say, ”If you really want him I’ll let you have him for…” and a price would be quoted that was ten or fifteen dollars higher than what most dogs would bring. And 9 out 10 times this worked, and the buyer would load this hound in his truck thinking to himself “Boy I sure outsmarted old Les on this deal!”
My brothers and I were taught that a good deal was when both participants believed they got the best of it. Daddy always said: ”Let him think he won and he will be back.”
There are many stories concerning trading. Most I am sure have been told for the truth and have been repeated all over the country. One that I find very easy to believe and is in a way a precursor to what’s happening today with the big food corporations decreasing the size of their packaging. A pound of coffee is not a pound anymore.
There was an old storekeeper who kept a new broom leaning on the counter and when the customer’s bill was totaled, he would add the cost of the broom to the total. Now if the customer was really paying attention and pointed out that the broom was not one of his purchases the storekeeper would apologize and take the price of the broom off of the bill. But there is no way of knowing just how many times that broom was sold each week.
And then there are the times when the best plan goes awry. A butcher was cleaning up one evening getting ready to close shop for the day when the front door flew open and a lady rushed in and in a very loud and excited voice, ”I need a good size fryer! I have unexpected company coming for supper and my husband promised them fried chicken.”
Well, the butcher knew he had one frying chicken left from the day’s sales so he replied in a calming voice I believe I can help you out and went in the cooler and brought out the only fryer he had in the shop. He held it out for the lady’s inspection and right away she said, “This is not big enough!”
So he went back in the cooler and waited a few seconds and came back out with the same fryer thinking this lady is in such a state she will not know the difference. He held it up for her approval and after she looked at the fryer replied, “This one is not any bigger than the other one. I tell you what I’ll take this one and the other one.” I have never heard just how the butcher got out of this predicament.
A story I was told years ago and that was vowed by the teller to be true involved a dead horse. And I believe it will illustrate just how some quick thinking can turn a bad situation into a real marketing opportunity. In east Texas one cool autumn morning this old boy went to the barn to feed his little mare and opened the stall door to discover her stretched out stone-cold dead. He just stood there in shock trying to understand how something like this could happen. Well after standing there a few minutes moaning the loss of the best working horse he had ever owned he came up with an idea that would enable him to recover some of his loss.
He jumped in his truck and drove to town. It was sale day at the stockyard so he knew that his plan would work. What he decided to do was have a raffle. Now I don’t remember if I was ever told just how many chances were sold or what a chance cost, but after the drawing later that day he and the winner drove out to his place so that the prize could be claimed. When they opened the stall door and discovered the dead mare. The owner of the dead horse turned with an astonished look on his face and said, “Man I don’t know what to say! I have no idea what happened, but I have never tried to beat anyone out of anything. I’m going to give you your money back.”