Sunday, August 5, 2007

Selling Pillows

(Started 7/18/07)

Selling pillows was easy for Softy. He had a line for everyone. “Ma’am, how long has it been since you’ve had a good night’s sleep?” or “when was the last time you gave yourself a real gift . . . and one that didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.”

Without cash, however, it was hard for him to get pillows on credit. Imagine the look on the wholesaler’s face when a stranger comes in and says he’s a great pillow salesman and he’d like fifty pillows on credit.

Sometimes he would start by asking for fifty and then settle for five. He had to usually leave something, and that something would be his gold watch that his grandfather had left him when he died.

The markup on pillows is pretty high, so where he might be able to buy a 650 Fill White Goose Down king size pillow for twenty-five dollars he could sell it for 150 to 200, depending on the neighborhood.

He guaranteed everything. He’d say, as he restrained himself from kicking the beast across the room, “ma’am, I’m going to come back tomorrow. If you didn’t get the best sleep of your life, I’m going to give you your money back. But if you did sleep well, I’m going to try to sell you a few more pillows for those whom you love. You’ll even want one for that poodle of yours that almost bit me on the leg." And he always was good on his word. And he never had a pillow returned.

Sometimes he’d get a complaint about how the new pillow made their neck stiff. He give some song and dance about how important it is to have your head elevated when you sleep, and the fact that the new pillow made their neck stiff was only an indication about how problematic was their old flat pillow. He’d ask them if they sat on the pillow for 5 minutes before sleeping on it the first time. If they answered in the negative, which they’d always do, he’d apologize profusely that he had neglected to tell them to do that, and told them to do so and their neck would be fine the next morning. And he’d come back the next day to see how they had slept.

Sometimes he’d only need to have one pillow. He’d collect deposits equal to his wholesale cost for the pillows, and then deliver them the next day.

His greatest challenge was to sell pillows with only a picture. Softy was so likable that he could do this, when needed. And he’d still get a deposit, using some story like “I just sold my last pillow to one of your neighbors and he suggested that you might want one too. I like to see everyone wake up with a smile on their face so I’m giving you an opportunity to receive, with just a small deposit, the greatest experience of your sleeping life.”

Softy had his customers eating out of his hand before you could say “dust bunny.”