Jul 28, 2005

There's something missing.

I can't quite figure it yet, and have been looking for it for years now, but there seems to be some trigger or impetus that I have overlooked.

Brittain was described in WWII by the Germans as "a nation of shopkeepers." I've always liked that analogy, and have used it on myself at times, but for different reasons. The British showed the world that shopkeepers often have strength beyond reason, solidarity beyond measure, and a large caliber handgun hidden behind the produce scale, and that one should never, ever, f**k with a shopkeeper. And when it's all said and done they go right back to what they were doing, after of course sweeping the floor clean and tidying up, and perhaps having a cuppa.

No, I've always been a shopkeeper because I seem to have fallen in love with the idea of capitalism at a very young age. I can recall exercising three of my childhood directions simultaneously when I was in third or fourth grade--a friend and I had co-written a terrifying tale of horror and suspense on a single page of torn out notebook paper, and I had brought it home that evening and typed it up all nice and neat, double spaced so it looked like you were getting more than, as I recall, two or three paragraphs, and when I got it back to school we smeared it in places with pink Chapstick because neither of us had mothers who wore red lipstick, which would have been the final bloody touch to the whole. And then we tried to sell it for a nickel a go.

Strangly enough, there were no takers.

Fast forward across the years--I was astounded the day I learned what a mark-up was, and doubly astounded at how much we as consumers were happily paying in that mark-up. Then, years later, I found out just how high you had to keep that markup just to break even. And then I started learning about internet commerce, and the line just keeps going on.

(For more internet commerce, look to the right there--the Irrelephant T-shirts and mugs are available now! And yes, I know that was a terribly unsubtle plug, but hey, it's my blog and I'll plug if I want to.)

A million years ago, Ug had a leg of wild pig that Gur wanted. Gur offered Ug a handful of firewood, but Ug held out for two, because he had to pay Mog a handful of firewood for getting him a pig leg off of Mog's three pig carcasses, and thus the middleman was born. Gur had his pig leg, Ug could pay Mog the debt owed, and he still showed a tidy profit, and everybody was happy.

If only it were so simple. *lol*

And don't worry, I'm not about to launch into a giant discussion of trade and commerce. It's just that the thing which has always haunted me is the sticking point in all my commercial ventures--I never have anything anyone wants.

And it's not as bleak as all that, it's just that the things I like, which become the things I'd like to sell for a small markup are never the things the Great Unwashed Masses want. When I'm busy selling pipes and tobacco the GUM are busy wanting bottled water and BMW Z3s. When I'm selling gut-wrenching tales of horror, the GUM wants...well, whatever it is 8 year olds want on the playground, which is probably gum, and a rock to throw at a window.

And then there's the whole idea of mavens, which intrudes into the psychology of selling. A maven is the catalyst for driving people to your product--the maven is a person who has the ear of a lot of people, or whose opinion is held as pretty important. Our maven, Tur, sees Ug selling pig legs and decides that he really wants one too. He buys one, likes it a lot, and tells his ten cavemates about it. The cavemates firmly believe in Tur's opinion, so THEY go out and buy pig legs from Ug, and they tell other cave dwellers about Ug's Fine Pig Legs LLC because Tur got them turned on to the ideology of pig leg buying, and then Ug is suddenly selling pig legs like a house afire, until Tur decides that pig legs are no longer the delicacy he used to think they are, and decides to start buying lark's vomit from Ug's neighbor down the path, Aga, at Aga's House O' Lark's Vomit.

Ah, the intricasies of commerce.

So what does this all boil down to? That my ancient ancestor down the monkey tree was not the pig leg selling Ug, nor Tur the maven. I've got product, but no maven, or perhaps I'm trying to sell fire in Hell.

And I guess the question REALLY becomes "Why do I feel the desperate need to sell?" A lifetime of retail training? A desire to feel needed by the general public? A drive to get a leg up on the competition?

Perhaps we'll open that can of pig legs tomorrow.
This post sponsored by Aga's House O' Lark's Vomit, now hiring management and wait staff for their new location in the green valley, second big rock on the left.

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