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It wasn’t a joke after all

Really it wasn’t. The translator, says, he wants to get several so he can send them to his family. So I start helping him pick out various bracelets. All three of them liked my King Mummy Double Skull key chain. I had two that I displayed more prominently on the table today since they weren’t getting any attention the previous two days. They asked if I had some more. Darn…I wish I did. The translator guy bought one of these key chains and the other guy that was talking to my daughter bought the other. Right then I regretted I didn’t have another 10 or 20 of them. Lesson learned. At a biker type of event, have more of these types of items ready.

Well I help the guy that I’m talking to pick out a total of 6 bracelets. My daughter helps the third guy pick out 5 items. WOW. This caught us off guard. We had to make one bracelet for guy #3. Another lesson learned. Don’t be surprised by what people may say. In hindsight, if we hadn’t been caught so flat footed, we might have been able to sell many more. Another lesson that I learned…get over being shocked pretty quickly. After everything was over and they came back and got the bracelet we had to make for guy #3, we may have been able to sell more if we simply asked the question. They were obviously primed to make some purchases and we could have brought in some more sales.

Many lessons were learned with this particular event. Goes down in the book of notes to discuss in the after action report with the family.

Constant Reader. I’ll see you next time with more. Take care.

He wants one of everything. Whaaaat?

Sounds like the perfect thing to hear when your selling something. I thought it was a joke and I was waiting for he punchline.

Let me back up and tell you what happened. We had a nice lady come by and inquire about a patriotic colored bracelet with a white ribbon. She wanted her friend to see it and said she may buy two if her friend likes it. She said she would leave her husband at our stand. As collateral I guess, while she took the bracelet to her friend.I thought this was funny, but he went along with it so who am I to talk.

A few minutes later, she returned with not only her friend but also a couple other people. She wanted one for her friend and herself and the two guys wanted one as well. With this order we needed to make 3 identical go along with the one we had already. Around the middle of taking this order, I spot three guys, peeking around the other folks, looking at our table. Not really surprising, as it happened several times throughout the event. Then the people would either buy something or keep going. Well these guys waited until the previous four left. They approached the table and I could tell immediately only one of them spoke fairly good english. The other two spoke very broken english and they were all fluent in Arabic as far as I could tell. As they were looking around, Alyssia and I got to starting the other bracelets we needed to make. Well I’m looking down at the bracelet that I’m making and I glanced up and saw the guy closest to me making a circular motion, sort of over the whole table. The guy, or translator, in this case says out loud, “He wants one of everything.” I almost started laughing, because I think its a joke. Then I look at their faces and could tell right away, they weren’t joking. So now I’m not joking either, right. I stand up and ask, for the translator to tell me what he has in mind.

Tune in next time, Constant Reader, to see what happened from here.

The downtown was waking up.

After we got everything set up on day three, it was pretty slow for some time. The motor officers, were busy on their bikes, getting in their last practice preparing for their skills competition that would be later in the morning. Many of the other vendors, were slowly putting their stalls together. One thing I saw that I guess I could have done if I wanted was to leave the setup as it was and covered up everything with a tarp and lowered the canopy. I didn’t think to do that, but I will keep it in mind for the future. It wasn’t too difficult to set up since we had done it the previous two days.

While we were waiting in the morning, the Mayor of Flint, Dayne Walling walked by our booth. I think he recognizes me from our union negotiations with the city, but I’m never sure. Either way, he stopped by and chatted for a few moments and we chatted about the event. We even joked that between the two of our families, their isn’t one tattoo, motorcycle, leather vest or anything. We both came to conclusion that we are pretty square compared to most of the people and bikers that were at the Bikes on the Bricks.

The first customers we had were a couple ladies from a local Biker church. Personally I had never heard of such a thing, but I was intrigued by the thought of people being in church with sunglasses and chaps. We chatted with these ladies the previous day and they both said they wanted a particular bracelet but didn’t have any money on them. Well I had heard that before so I didn’t get overly excited. Well, they came back on day three and said they were ready to buy a couple Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelets. Of course we took care of them and they even invited us to be one of the vendors at a Breast Cancer Awareness Ride that is to be based out of their church in early October. I told them I would put some thought to it.

Tune in for a new chapter next time, Constant Reader. See you then.

Let’s back up a bit

As I was reading this I realized I had jumped into day three (3) with no warning at all. Let’s take care of that, shall we.

My wife wasn’t feeling well at all when she awoke on day three and decided to stay at home and rest up a bit. Jorden and Ashley decided to stay home with her just in case she needed a helping hand. They were also tired from the previous 2 days and I could definitely understand that. I always have to remember to be thankful for any help I can get and they were a tremendous help.

My oldest daughter Alyssia did come along and we packed up and headed to the Downtown. Once there, I spoke with “Bob” and asked him about setting up today. I had hoped to avoid the near fiasco (my fault) from the previous day. Well, catastrophe averted. Neither Bob or his wife, Carol, had a problem with us setting up at the same spot that we were at before.

It may be obvious why I asked my children to go along with me. As of this writing, our children are 19, 17, and 12. Definitely old enough to learn a thing or two about business and what better way to have them get totally immersed in the endeavor than with their “Pops”. As I’ve said in other posts, this is a lot of a learning experience for me. Although I’ve done some things in business before, I haven’t really done much with them since they’ve been old enough to remember and know what is going on. My style of teaching is totally hands-on. It was the way I was taught in my job as a police officer and I consider it to be an excellent way to learn quickly. It can be scary as hell at times, but the lessons can be so valuable. During this whole process, I’ve explained what I was doing and encouraged them to give me their opinions. I’ve always felt that we can always learn from each other and they appear to appreciate that.

Tomorrow we’ll go into a bit more of how day three went in more detail. Until then, Constant Reader.

A few revelations

Probably the biggest thing I learned; since my wife commented on the second day that they felt like third wheels. Whenever someone needed a bracelet made, I thought I would make some “preps” or partially made items, that we could work on at the stand. My kids and even my wife could practice making an item, and maybe even help me out and relieve a little of the pressure.

My daughter and I started making a few of the key chains that I had prepped, but something unique happened while we were making these and even some of the ordered bracelets: people wanted to watch. I think people thought we were selling bracelets that we bought. They really gravitated to seeing the items being made right in front of their eyes. I had to remind myself that this is making a form of ‘art’ and sometimes people like to see things be created from scratch. Why not benefit from that curiosity. Not all the people watching will buy something but it can be a good way to interact with folks.

We even found we could make items while standing and talking . This proved to be completely helpful, when we had orders for about 7 bracelets, to be made, while I would start the process, my daughter, Alyssia would continue working on them, allowing me to start on another. This system worked out much better than I expected and as I said earlier had the added benefit of giving something for people to watch.

This and a few other things, I want to talk over with the family after the event. Taking something from the law enforcement and military community, an after action report or debrief. Going over the event and the things that went well as well as the things that sucked big time.

Talk to you soon, Constant Reader.

Day 2 continues in earnest

Leading up to this event, I spent a lot of time making various bracelets and key chains. I was trying to have what I would presume most of the attendees would be interested in. This was fairly hard to do since I had never been to this event or liken myself to being a biker.

Each evening, when we would come home, I would have all these ideas of different bracelets, colorations and designs that might be popular. I found an interesting way to do this each evening as well. Recently I’ve been listening to a book, “The girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Each night when I wanted to spend a little time making items, I would turn my iPod on with this book and wham. I would get lost in what I was doing and the book and later on would look up and find I had made quite a bit. So much so, that on Friday night my fingers were killing me. I hadn’t even realized it while I was working but my fingers were so sore. Part of the trade I guess. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, morning and evening I would work on what I thought would be popular and may sell.

It didn’t take long to realize that I had geared most of my items to police officers or people interested in police. I needed more biker type items and frankly things that little kids would like. There were several times that kids would pull their parents arm over to our stand and show them something they saw while passing by.

I’ll see you next entry, Constant Reader.

Whew…it all came together

As I wrote previously, after a trifle glitch in the matrix, we got the go ahead to set up. This went a lot smoother, since we had done the same thing on the first day. I think we looked darn cool too, with our matching shirts and all.

I forgot to say that on the first day, we nearly lost our canopy to the wind. I had to use some of the paracord and tie some anchors to the rear in a patch of ground with stakes and I had to use a couple of paint cans to anchor the front legs. A bit crude but it worked. I had an idea to expand on the paint can idea, since I can’t depend on anchoring to an open patch of ground. I went to our local Lowe’s and picked up 4 empty paint cans with lids, filled them with sand and taped our logo to them. Once we had the canopy up I tied the cans to the canopy with paracord, using a Siberian Hitch at each paint can. It is a quick, fast knot that is adjustable and is really quick to unravel at the end of the day. As a matter of fact I had a few people commenting on the cans and that they were a good idea. Heck, I was just trying to make sure our set-up made it back home.

We had a wonderful lady from a chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club stop by. She wanted a particular size of bracelet to wrap around the right upper side of her vest just under the shoulder. She told us that several people from their clubs wear them that way or wear them dangling from the side of their vests. I had never heard of this before. We got to making her bracelet, when she returned shortly thereafter with her husband and two other club member. That one bracelet transformed into 4 sales along with some great suggestions on colors and designs. They also suggested that I check out their national website for events that I may be able to attend and sell some of my items.

Tune into the next entry when I continue the story, Constant Reader.

Day one is in the books. Now on to day two.

Now this was interesting. We get to the downtown area, early, while all the vendors are setting up. I speak with the lady that is going to be selling the Flint Police Mounted Unit T-Shirts from their trailer, and speak with her briefly and ask her if she minds if I set up in the front of her trailer. Of course she says yes. So we get to it.

A short time later, a tall fellow walks up and says his name is Bob. He asks if I’m with the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Group and I tell him that I’m affiliated with the Flint Police Mounted Unit, and was told by a committee member that I could set up next to the trailer. He gives me a strange look, like maybe I’m making all this up while we are talking. He asks me who told me that. So, I give him  a couple names and tell him that we were set up on the surface lot the previous day. Well he recognizes the name and just sort of talks out loud about how that person wasn’t supposed to do that. He says he needs to talk with his wife first, who is the person in charge of the vendors, to make sure it is OK for me to set up. As soon as he briefs her, she comes over and maybe she didn’t see red, but she definitely saw a shade of pink. She said that I wasn’t the only one that was told something like that by other people. Well at least I’m not the only ‘bootleg’ on the Bricks. 🙂

During the whole time that I’m talking to the both of them, I wasn’t nervous. Not because I knew people in high places, but because, neither of them started out saying that I couldn’t set up. They were just trying to figure out how I could do it. That I am so grateful for. There was a chance, however fleeting to get it done and I held hope that it would.

They do a bunch of checking and tell me that I can set up, but I might not be in the same place on Sunday if I come. I give them my eternal thanks and move to a more proper spot that they point out on the other side of the trailer. Bob even moves his motorcycle to accommodate us. What a guy.

On the next entry we will discuss further what happened on the official first day of the event. See you then, Constant Reader.

Bikes on the Bricks, the first day continues.

After we got set up, I was a bit exhausted. I didn’t know how everything would go, so I just try to relax and watch the practice by the officers. Then Jim Nelson, comes up. He is a motor officer from St. Paul, MN. He asks about the bracelets a bit and says he will be back in a bit to get something. Later on he even brought a plate of food from the tent that the officers were located. This guy was so generous he shocked me a bit. Maybe I’m somewhat jaded by working in Flint as a police officer for so long, but he astounded me with his kind demeanor. I looked upon it as a good sign that perhaps I was in the right place.

Throughout the day we made a few sales. Jim Nelson, bought 3 bracelets and we sold about 9 items in total. Come 4pm we began packing up as the officer’s were finishing up their day of practice. I felt a good sense of accomplishment, but I also had this lingering thought of what would the next day would bring. As I said before, the enormity of this whole thing, left me feeling inadequate. I even told my family that I was planning on doing the event on Saturday, but I felt like maybe I wasn’t ready for Sunday. While we were driving home, my wife began encouraging me to do the whole thing, Friday, Saturday and definitely Sunday. See it to the end, she said. Learn from it and move forward, she said. She planted a seed if nothing else. Now I’m back to doing something that puts fear in me.

As we drove home, I thought about it more and I believe she was correct. I shouldn’t fear what may come. Embrace the experience, heck it just may be a lot of fun.

Tune in next time to see how it unfolded, Constant Reader.


Bikes on the Bricks…the first show.

The day before the show, my wife drops a bit of a bomb on me. It was good though. She made up a great logo design about a week prior and put it on a T-shirt for us to wear at the Bikes on the Bricks event. It looked awesome and after we all gave her the go ahead, she made up shirts for all of us, even her to wear. To add to that, Amy decided to tag along and go with us on the first day. I was extremely happy to have her. Frankly I was so anxious I probably needed her.

Well we get to the surface lot where the officer’s are going to be practicing, but I don’t see the Flint Police Motor Unit trailer.  We wait around a bit and eventually find that initial supervisor that I spoke to and a couple other people on the event committee that I work with. The point me to a spot in the lot, next to there food tent and we begin setting up there.

A few firsts were in play here as well. First time being at an event like this or at all. First time setting up our collapsible canopy. First time selling my creations on a larger scale.

As I talk with the guys from earlier, they tell me that today(Friday) I can set up in the lot, but they give me a couple suggestions on setting up the next day or two for the official event, Bikes on the Bricks. I was also told that the motor unit trailer, will be on the main thoroughfare, Saginaw St., with a suggestion of maybe setting up right there with them the next day. As you can imagine, I’m trying to take all this in and feeling a little bit like a fish out of the water. There are people putting up large commercial tents and it all feels more official than I imagined. I’ve never done this before and am so far small potatoes. So what am I doing here? The answer I kept coming back to, is that I’m working on building a business. I’ve also got that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt rolling around my head of doing something every day that frightens you. Well here I am, a bit frightened. My family is with me and I don’t want to look stupid in front of them or waist there precious time as well.

Tune in next time to see what happened next, Constant Reader.