Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Entrepreneurs or: How to Sell Jo Auntie The Brooklyn Bridge
A few days ago, Moy and I were out for our usual evening stroll when we met these two young scamps. You could see the gleam in both their eyes a mile off.
"Auntie!" They called eagerly. "We've opened a shop! Come and see."
Their "shop" was a table set up in their garden. They had a bowl of soapy water and a stack of papers on it. On the lawn beside that, they had a bucket and a drum, both filled with the same soapy water. They explained that they had invented a new game in which participants rolled the pieces of paper into tubes and used them to blow bubbles in the soap solution. As this was their first item for sale, they had named the shop in its honor: Bubbly Station.
They were selling tiny bottles of the solution along with a supply of the papers for five rupees each. How could I refuse?
Except, since we were just out for a walk and not going shopping, I had no money on me. I promised to return in the evening and pick up my purchase. Of course, I promptly forgot.
The next afternoon - a Sunday, just as I was about to take a little snooze - who should appear at my gate but the two young businessmen. When I apologized for not having come back, they were all affability and charm. "No problem, Auntie! We have free home delivery."
And they had come prepared, with my bill already written up. I found to my surprise that I was being charged for TWO of the tiny bottles because of the 10 rupee minimum charge for home delivery. And somehow, as you can see from the bill below, I ended up paying 15 rupees in all.
Ah, the ways of business. Perhaps it was a tax.
But they weren't through with me yet. Recognizing a sitting duck when they saw one, they brought out their latest offering:
Hmmm, I said doubtfully. What is it?
Shocked at my ignorance, they explained that this was Bubbly Station's latest innovation: a bubbly floral showpiece, meant to be poured into a glass bowl (because I couldn't keep the bottle) and displayed on the coffee table in the living room. Cost? Only 25 rupees. Inquiries about the exact composition of the solution were met with further shocked expressions. Trade secrets, Auntie.
When I declined politely, they had an even better offer: original art work!
And here was a truly amazing angle. On the back of the picture of Dubai (which has the tallest building in the "houl" world) it was written: Was Rs 15/Now Rs 20. The other one, which the artist claimed had been extremely time-consuming to make, was straight up Rs 20.
Both signed by the artists, limited editions! Value increasing in front of my eyes! Again, how could I refuse? But getting a bit warier now, I bargained and managed to bring them down to Rs 30 for both.
The next evening, out on our walk again, they swooped up to us on their bicycles, all smiles. Auntie! We were just coming to meet you! Look what we have!
What they had was a paper cup filled with mossy green pebbles. 2 rupees for each one.
"OK, guys," I said. "I think it's time for your school to re-open."