By Andy Weddington
Friday, 02 February 2018
In business or in life, don't follow the wagon tracks too closely. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Americans conquered with the wagon.
And still do.
Covered wagons - efficient trains by day, protective circles by night - rolled west.
Where the settlers went so followed, in wagons, entrepreneurs.
As a kid I used my wagon to ride down hills, to haul passengers and dirt and junk and bottles (to return for cash).
The wagon is still an American workhorse.
Sunday afternoon past the back door doorbell alerted the presence of a caller.
To identify required going down a short flight of stairs and opening an interior door into the mudroom and then a look to port out the storm door.
There stood, bundled up to fend off the cold, a young girl and her wagon - with goods aboard.
I recognized her as a neighbor's pre-teen daughter.
She opened by telling me she'd finished reading my book (On SEEING & Painting) and had learned a lot.
This is a bright kid - set the tone by flattering your potential customer.
Then came comment she was selling her art to raise money for the Humane Society.
Okay, she is going to get my money.
First, she showed me her small canvases.
Then an 'aha' moment - pulling from a stack of works on paper she selected a landscape and said, "I think you'll like this one - it's with the complements blue and orange."
I looked through her stack and replied, "You're right! I like this one. How much?"
"The price is on the back. I believe that one is five dollars," she said.
And that was all the cash - ones - I had on me.
Remembering the first painting I sold, at about her age, I bought her painting.
Completing our swap, she thanked me and reiterated her intent to support the Humane Society but to keep a few dollars for more art supplies. (How great - she's learning the fundamentals of business and capitalism.)
Our conversation over, she pulled her wagon towards the next home and I went back inside and looked at the backside of the painting. And laughed out loud.
A few days later I ran into her mother (who was away from home that Sunday afternoon and unaware of her daughter's impromptu idea for door-to-door sales) at a coffee.
She brought up learning of her daughter's effort and told how one customer had nothing smaller than a $20 and so that was the price paid for a canvas.
The buyer's post-sale comment was it'd been worth $50 to see the smile and joy on her face.
Mom said she earned $76 and asked to keep $13.
So one day next week the Humane Society will get an in-person visit and cash gift of $63 - from an aspiring artist.
And $13 will go to art supplies.
Thinking about all this the past week, it never dawned on me to load my wagon and sell paintings door-to-door.
I have had (and sold) paintings in galleries.
I have (and sell) paintings on my website.
I market (and sell) paintings in other ways.
But there is nothing like the personal touch, the one-on-one pitch - especially if opening with a flattering remark. Thus, seller puts buyer in a position that makes it difficult to say no.
Well, last Saturday I bought a portable charger to jump start the dead battery in my gas-operated wagon.
Tomorrow I'm thinking about buying a real wagon. And Sunday afternoon loading it with paintings and going door-to-door in our neighborhood.
And first flatter.
I learned something from the young entrepreneur.
But the back of my paintings will be a little different ...
almost 12 (+50)
2018 out of grades
$500000 (a 0 for each decade of painting experience more than the young girl) - the decimal point negotiable.