Saturday, June 4, 2011

Choo-Choo Cha-Ching

Please accept my apologies for not blogging for a while. My sister in Maryland became very ill and I dropped everything , got a substitute teacher to take over my middle school classes and rushed to see.her. I am happy to report she is doing great. She came out of the hospital the day I arrived and I spent a week watching her grow stronger. This blog is an account of my adventures on the return trip from Maryland on the train.

When I went to Maryland in April to be there for Linda's first operation I took the train. No one rides trains anymore but I discovered them a year or so back when I wanted to do something special with my grandgirls. It is about the same travel time as driving but if you check on-line and pick the right days it is cheap and I believe more fun than flying or driving.

On my April trip I took my knitting to pass the time because  I was traveling alone. As I sat in the cafe car knitting it attracted some attention and people began asking about my bracelets. I was unprepared. I didn't have closures with me, so I couldn't finish them. I didn't have business cards yet so the possible sales were lost. I came back with lots of nice items to list on etsy because I had so much time on my hands but I could see an opportunity had been lost. Lost sales but experience gained.

This time I strung lots of projects and put them in separate zip lock bags  ready to knit, but I included the clasp for each. I made some cute rings that could be sold to anyone because they stretch and I made sure I had plenty of business cards. I also had recently read on a thread on one of my teams about wearing my jewelry. Today as I traveled and entertained myself with my hobby I was able to answer the inquiries. A young man sitting across from me ask about what I was doing and examined the work. I was reaching for a card when he replied that he wanted me to finish that bracelet for him to give to his girlfriend at his destination. I quoted a price and finished it. He was thrilled and showed it to everyone in the cafe car. I returned to my seat and started working on another bracelet. Someone noticed and I showed her the one I was wearing to illustrate how they finish up and also showed her the coordinating stretch ring, soon the bag of rings was making the rounds,everyone trying on their favorites. I quoted the etsy price and the "train price" to my new friends. The one lady bought the bracelet and ring combo. (It was my favorite bracelet but I could make another one) and the other ladies took cards. I wrote a note on each card for a train discount if the let me know when they order. I was continuing my journey and my hobby, richer in many ways. Lessons learned and return trip paid for. Yes, as I sat there, happy that my creations had new homes with nice people I did a little calculation and the three sales paid for my ticket today! I think the key was being prepared, letting them notice me, answering questions and making them feel special about the items they were interested in.

As I continued traveling ,back in the cafe car for the next break I was approached by a woman for the 2nd time. She was asking questions about how to make the bracelets. I always share whatever I can about what I am doing. It turned out she is an artist who sells at fairs and I told her everything I could about how to set up an etsy shop. Behind me a nice young woman with children, who had been listening in, mentioned she has an etsy shop too so I turned and ask her for her card and the three of us continued conversing I glanced down at the card and discovered she is an etsy friend. Someone I never met. She is the daughter of the woman who helped me get started on etsy and we have emailed each other in the past. What a delightful bonus to my trip!

 I know everyone won't be traveling by train and we all know this would have been impossible on a plane, but it gives me pause. Maybe when I go for coffee on Saturday mornings or sit at the doctor's office for an hour waiting to get in I should have a project with me. Even if it is not the piece some one wants it could be an opening to give out a card . The other consideration is -wearing what I make. The great debate on the team discussion board was if it is right to wear something one is selling. My product is made from thread so I don't list things I wear. When I decided to wear the bracelet this weekend I had decided to keep it for myself. Today I decided since the woman saw it on my arm before I put it on her arm, she knew what she was getting and could inspect it, this is different from an etsy shop sale ,which is determined by looking at photos. I believe I will wear more of my items and keep them for myself unless someone buys them off my arm and hand again. I won't wear them to school but to stores and events other than school. I never thought of that as a marketing tool before.

Remember- the choo choo . I know I can ! I know I can!  Maybe it isn't a train, but what place are you overlooking that could be a marketing marvel?  If you have ideas please leave a comment.

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