It's all in the marketing
"My name is Jerry.”
“I have a problem.”
“How shall I begin? I am a Salesman, a pretty good one, and, in my book I believe there is a customer for anything and everything. The Brooklyn Bridge is no exception. That kind of intuition came to me from birth; when at my sainted mother’s breast I could sense that we were both happy with the arrangement. Mutual benefit! That’s what it takes. But even more, it is important for the salesman to maneuver the buyer into believing that he has outsmarted the salesman. Simple fair and square deals will pay the rent, but won’t get you a Rolex.”
Jerry had a wild streak, in defiance of the laws of chance or probability. His positive intuition favored risky deals that had gone busted like bankrupted fairground rides and abandoned miniature golf courses. His acumen sometimes outstripped his better judgment, but he was usually incredibly lucky in promoting them. Hi friendly backers asked no questions.
That was how his problem began. His early money making sales from girdles to electric can openers and vacuums were no real challenge, nor fed a hungry ego. He looked for higher mountains to climb. One soon came into his purview.
He scoured the business sales ads, searching for the bizarre. He bypassed the common items like used tire lots or slightly damaged children’s toys, and finally came to rest on one that struck his bedeviled fancy.
SHOES – NEW HALF PAIRS ONLY
Jerry called the manufacturer and got this explanation, “We make thousands of pairs of men’s shoes every day. A few dozen pairs come out with one of them damaged. It is not practical for us to start a re-run to match them up; so we accumulate a lot of perfect singles and throw away the others. We can box the single with all the labels. We are not interested in trying to market them and sell and ship them to anyone in lots of a hundred at a very good price, C.O.D., of course.”
Jerry had never heard of or seen such an offering in the few weeks that followed the end of World War II. ‘There must be enough one legged amputees to create a market.’ He quickly surmised. ‘Why should they have to buy a shoe they can’t use?’ He had never seen a shoe store marketing them, and did not care to wonder why.
His interested friends agreed and financed the purchase of four hundred shoes.
If Jerry had done his research, which he never did, he might have learned that the military had begun to issue standard military shoes to its one-legged amputees at the time of Jerry’s venture.
The civilian market was almost nil, leaving Jerry with almost all of his shoes. His backers abandoned him like a sinking ship. Jerry donated all his shoes to any charity that could use them. He was almost penniless, but not defeated in spirit. He was still sure of his single-minded intuition, and looked forward to resurgence in the future and would never consider returning to the old days of selling vacuums and girdles.
A provoking advertisement in the newspaper one day caught his eye. He read it three times in disbelief, but with rising interest.
ONE HOUSAND HORSESHOES FOR SALE
A call to the seller brought the explanation that the advent of the automobile had put a stop to horseshoe production, but not soon enough. ‘What can you do with a horseshoe? No one tossed cleats as they did years ago, and neither were they tacked up over the home entrance for good luck.
No friend would finance him since his last debacle and especially an unusually absurd item, like horseshoes.
Even his tricky mind could find no use for them. In his usual bravado he bought them anyway, on the spur of a perky intuition. Contact with an iron smelting company proved to be a disappointment. The iron proved to be of such a poor quality that they were not worth melting down.
He was in deep trouble with no friendly backing. He had to borrow from the mafia, and they were ready to take me apart on a sure default. They threatened to wrap his neck with an ungraceful décolletage of horseshoes and dump him in the river. Can you imagine, “My own horseshoes!” But, here again, it gave him an undeserved piece of luck.
“Harry,” he said to his enforcer, whose limited topic of conversation usually bordered on vivid descriptions of unabashed mayhem, “I know how you guys operate. You fellows have too much important work to waste your time with deadbeats and seriously, you have the experience of talents that very few others have. Your valuable time should be spent pushing for more clients. That’s where my suggestion comes in Harry; something to make things easier for a guy with your talents.” Harry savored the parade of compliments.
“How would you like to tell your boss how to save a lot of time; and at the same time put a feather in your cap? You guys waste a lot of time waiting for the concrete to harden around the ankles of deadbeat clients, and I’m sure it is not the most pleasant thing to watch. Why don’t you take the load of horseshoes and spread them among your brethren for enforcement purposes.”
Harry pauses, and smiles, “yeah, it would save a few bucks and lots of time, and be more humane.” He said, his eyes lighting up. “Just stay close and I’ll put it up to the boss.”
The boss liked the idea but worried that Jerry was privy to the whole idea. “Otherwise, it has merits, Harry. Tell him that we will pick up the horseshoes and let him off the hook and that he’d better keep his trap shut or he’ll wear an iron necklace to an underwater dance in his honor. Good work Harry, said the boss patting his shoulder. Harry felt a lift in pride, because the boss never compliments his men.
Jerry was of course relieved with the outcome. He savored the smoke of a half chewed cigar, as he reviewed his lucky streak. Did he learn a lesson?
A few days later he was on a flight to Miami to pick up a freight car loaded with California oranges.
Considering the difficulty of this present venture he was happily afloat in his favorite medium, the sea of egomania.