Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Smokes, I have FANS.....

I just noticed today I have a 22 official "followers."

Wow....I guess I am doing something right....keeping you folks entertained, anyway....word is spreading, too. Considering I don't promote the blog much anywhere, other than Facebook, I suppose that is ok. I have seen other bloggers with far more "followers", but I'm not going to stop bloggin' because I have "only" 22 and not 2200 followers.

Still, the more the merrier! Spread the word! Don't keep this blog a secret!
Also, I am on Facebook, under FEDORA ANTIQUES. I usually use my neon store sign as an "avatar":

Sometimes it is lit up, this:

 I had this sign made many years ago...well, about 13 years ago. I had a friend in the custom neon biz that gave me a decent deal...$3500, which I paid over time. It is about 3.5' or so high, and is meant to go outside. I have had it mounted on one store, for a year, and then it was put in storage....never did get it mounted on the exterior of my next shop, just never seemed to get around to it...and I was there for 4 years....
It did get put up outside, one other time (without my permission) as a prop in a movie that was filmed in Winnipeg, but other than that, it has been inside for 12 of those 13 years, which accounts for its decent condition today.  These pics are actually from about when I got it (2nd pic), and after it was mounted above my store (1st pic)

Got off on a tangent again, didn't I?

So, "fans"...yes, it seems I have garnered some. Going to get a big ego! Though, I think cleaning the cats' litter boxes will bring me back to earth pretty quickly....the stench of cat urine tends to break through pretty much any dream state...

Now, those of you who do not have cats, and are not those readers who have cats and who just realized that their partner asked them to clean out the cat's litter box, and are still with me...oh wait, this is a blog, you can just stop reading and come back, can't you...?  Hmm...

Ok, just for those readers who are cat owners: Those of you who have just come back from cleaning your cat's litter boxes, here is a reminder: WASH YOUR HANDS.

All clear, no litter on the keyboard, cat on your lap, all appreciative that their dirt box doesn't reek...?


Back to business.

Ok, not quite business....back to Facebook...aka "Crackbook" as my wife and others call it. So, I seem to have garnered more than just potential customers during the course of promotion of my business...yes, during my "wasting time" on Crackbook...uh, I mean Facebook. I'm coming across a few people who have expressed that they would like to meet me...not to come and buy something (though that may occur, I'd assume), but just meet me.

I assume they could accurately be called fans?

So, my "15 minutes of fame" has arrived, I guess, or started.  I wonder how Mike, Frank, Danielle et al are dealing with their new found fame?   Has to be a weird situation....all sorts of people saying "Hello Mike!" and you will have no idea who they are....

Wait, that already happens to me...(no, no, no, my name is not "Mike", too).....but I have always just chalked it up to having a bad memory, and poor "recognition" of the people I have dealt with in the past (or to whom I am related to and don't see that often.....)

Maybe I am famous already, and just don't remember that I am famous....or...WAIT, maybe I am on a "The Truman Show" type program....! Ok, where is that damn camera.....!!??!? is a weird thing.  

It likely opens some doors, both opportunity wise and pickin' wise! Imagine, the AP gang has nearly 4 million people potentially looking for leads for them! I hear they get over a thousand emails a day...

Overwhelming numbers!

I can't even keep up with the leads I find myself!   Mind, you, that has more to do with cash flow than lacking time to pursue leads. Although, the fact of the matter is that there are leads EVERYWHERE.  It is just that many people don't recognize them.  There are good "scores" to be had all over, and some in very obvious places. Sometimes the fact that it is obvious is the very reason no one has pursued the lead. EVERYONE has assumed that lead has been followed up. Odds are it has, but sometimes the odds work in your favor.

Don't assume!  Like one of my high school English teachers said: Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.

Ok, so assuming it won't make an ass out of you in this case, but it might cause you to miss a good buying opportunity in front of your nose.

Assuming may actually make an ass out of you in this business, actually.  Ignoring a customer dressed in less than cutting-edge fashions may loose you the opportunity to sell pieces to the most advanced collector of art glass in the world....or meet "THE Authority" in the field of your particular collecting interest.

Many serious collectors sometimes appear as if their mothers are the ones picking out their clothing. Or, apparel is "rough" looking...sort of like what I tend to wear...worn/torn jeans, button-up long sleeve shirts (winter) and T-shirts (summer). No, I am no fashion plate.....

Some may well prefer to spend the "real money" on their passion, collecting, rather than on overpriced clothing.  Or, if they are like me, they may regularly "destroy" their clothing, so tend not to spend big money on their duds.  Picking the way I do is hard on clothes. I don't wear $50 shirts...oh, wait, correction, I don't wear $50 shirts unless they cost me $5 or less....preferably $2 or less!

Anyway, doesn't matter.

Surprise, surprise, I don't wear Armani suits out picking!

I WILL however, PICK vintage Armani suits given the opportunity! 

Ok, ok, yes, I am getting to the point, soon....

I have gone into "hoity-toity" antiques stores, having come fresh out of a basement of some building down the street from them, and gotten some looks of suspicion. While they are keeping a hairy-eyeball on me, they fawn over the well dressed couple, who are just killing time while their take out order next door is being prepared, and who I have already overheard call the owners merchandise "overpriced old junk."

Occasionally in these shops I will spot something great, and grossly under priced, and want to see the item (if inaccessible to me)...the proprietor will then take it out of the showcase/off the back shelf, all the while showing obvious reservation.  I inspect the item to my satisfaction, tell them I will take it, and pull out the cash....leaving them stumped/surprised...or closely inspecting the $100 bill I gave them.

I try to treat everyone the same, and I know it is tough.  We are programmed in this world to be suspicious, always cautioned by media of all kinds...and even your own parents

"Don't talk to strangers, dear."

Hmm.....if we actually listened to that last one, we'd never make any friends now, would we?

Tough to do that in business, too...most of our first time customers ARE strangers. 

One of the toughest parts of picking is approaching people...all these "scary strangers" you have to talk to that your mother warned you about...and there are some out right strange strangers out there. But, they are all just people. You will need to approach all sorts of people if you want to succeed in this business. I initially had a heck of a time at first, doing a cold call, as I was pretty darn shy guy. But, after awhile, you just go and DO IT.  Yeah, sometimes you don't "feel like it", but if this is your living you even have to push yourself at those times. Take it from me, I may well have missed a score of a lifetime because I didn't "feel" like dealing with anyone at the moment I recognized the "lead".

  Yes, I have blogged about it already, and it is a LONG (and sad, from my point of view!) story, so if you have no idea what I am talking about, you will just have to read farther back in my blog. 

I have talked to owners of companies, and those same companies' janitors, and I try to approach them all the just people.

They are not superior to me, and are not inferior to me.

Just people.

So, why is it we sometimes get all googly eyed, tongue tied, etc when we go to talk to, or approach, "celebs"? They are just people, for crying out loud. 

Yeah, sure I want to meet Mike and Frank, but I'm actually interested in selling them a truckload of stuff.....I've accumulated WAY too many old bikes...and I want to get Frank collecting CANADIAN oil company know, create a regular, new, customer!  And Danielle? Sure, she seems like a cool person, we'd be happy to have her over to listen to tunes, yak, B.S. a bit with while sitting around the bonfire quaffing a few beers. Heck, I'd even offer to let her ride along on a picking trip, and give her some pointers on picking Canadian prairie style! 

Am I googly eyed over her?


Star struck?


But, I have not met her in person yet. So, who knows, maybe when the time comes, my tongue will trip over itself....

That is, if I even recognize her.

I have talked to a few celebs, walked by them, stared right at them, etc, and not realized who the heck they were.

Once a guy and a local politician came into my store. The politician was in charge of  promoting Winnipeg to the entertainment industry (film companies doing movies, TV, concerts, etc).

The guy and the politician inquired if I had any antique architectural items; but large stuff, large stuff, like stone sculpture, that sort of thing. I didn't have anything at the time, and suggested he leave his email address & phone number with me.  The guy looked a little put off, and then the politician offered to be the go between.   I thought that was kind of weird, but said ok and took his card.

I found out after they left that it was Bill Paxton.   Frankly, if I passed him on the street today I STILL wouldn't know who he was!

A friend's daughter was working in their antique store when a pleasant and well spoken lady came in, who inquired if they had any of a certain pattern of china, Dionne Quintuplets items or antique snowglobes.

She showed the lady some of the inventory that met her criteria, and the customer selected some of the items.

My friend's daughter took the items to the counter, wrapped them up, and processed the woman's credit card in their manual machine,  "zip-zip".  (Like the sound effects?)
She gave the lady the slip to sign, and then exchanged it for the customer copy. Thanks-you's were exchanged, the bag of the items handed across the counter, and the transaction finished.

The customer walked out the door, and the clerk watched as the woman got into a limo that pulled up in front of the store.

It wasn't until she read the name on the impressed receipt that she realized who she had just served.

The impression of the card holder's name was clearly visible...and read:

Granted, my friends (and their daughter) are originally from England, and, even though they have been in Canada since the 1980s, they are not as familiar with Joan Rivers as you and I might be. 

I completely understand how it is possible to miss recognizing a celebrity.  I seem to do it on a pretty regular basis!

A friend and I were gabbing while standing in the middle of his downtown antique shop one day. We yakked for an easy half hour or more, while customers milled around. His wife was tending the counter and taking care of customers while we shot the breeze.

We half noticed a family of 3 leave, and then the guy poked his head in the door, to inquire about the price of a beat-up and heavily repainted Coca-Cola sign my friend had in the window.  He said it wasn't for sale, and the guy went on his way. My friend keeps the sign in his window to attract attention, and it catches people's eyes so much, that it is worth more as an attention getter than what he could ever sell it for, considering condition it is is all doctored up, so it looks good from 15 feet away, as people walk by, pass in their cars, and as they sit at the stoplight and gawk about.

So, we sauntered back to the counter, so he could catch up with his wife on what had sold while we were absorbed in our conversation. She then asked us if we had realized that Richard Gere and his wife Carey Lowell had been in the store shopping with their kid....

Yep, the guy who poked his head back in the door was Mr. Gere...

You can understand how it is possible to miss recognizing those celebs when you get a look at a variety of photos of them sans make-up, and in day to day situations...grabbing milk at the local convenience store, picking up a pack of cigarettes at the gas station, some diapers at their local Shoppers Drug Mart. They look pretty ordinary when it comes down to it. Put them in a large crowd, and if you were to have to pick them out, you'd have to really look & study all the faces.

On the other hand, they would have been more recognizable with a major, distinguishing, almost trademark, feature...say, a real character face (think: Keith Richard), a wild hairstyle (think Don King), a visible scar, distinctive tattoo, an extra single eye in the middle of their forehead.....well, okay, maybe not that last one.

If you are like me...well, maybe a distinctive feature won't help you recognize a celeb, either...

I had gotten a flat tire on my vehicle, on #1 Highway, the Trans Canada....the Trans Canada aka #1 Highway, is the main highway that runs right across Canada, coast-to-coast. The tire went dead flat near a set of lights, on near Portage La Prairie, within sight of a gas station. Good thing, too, because when I dragged the spare out of the back of the truck and plopped it on the ground it was flat, too.

Annoyed at my not so good luck, I half dragged, half rolled the spare, which had no obvious issues, to the gas station. As it turned out, the bays had been recently turned into a store.

So, I headed to the pay phone at the back of the store, for a phone book to find the number of a near-by tire repair shop or garage.  When I got there, there was a guy yakking on the phone. He was standing over the phone, blocking my view, as well as access, to the little shelf where the phonebook sits.   Even if the book was visible, usually they are tied to some cable so you can't go farther than a foot from the phone, anyway. He was absorbed in his conversation, and I wasn't about to bug him.  I stood there for what seemed like eons, with as well as some other people glancing at the guy, who all seemed interested in using the phone, too.

My level of annoyance was rising, and I suspect my facial expressions and body language was starting to scream "get off the f****** phone, other people need to use it, damn it!"

Finally, he noticed I was standing there. He told the person on the other end that someone was waiting to use the phone, and that he'd call them later.

Cripes, FINALLY!

He walked away from the phone, nodding a greeting, I gave a short, curt nod back, and went to grab the phonebook...

Which wasn't there.


So, I walked over to the now not-so-busy front counter, and asked if they had a phonebook I could look at.
The clerk handed me a thick volume, and I set it down, flopped it open, and started looking for a tire shop number.

I found what I was looking for, dug out change, and called a couple numbers. Finally I got one who would come out and pick up my tires.

Satisfied, and a little calmer with arrangements made, and my blood pressure lower, I started to take a little more notice of my surroundings.  Most of the crowd had cleared out, and there was a couple people chatting, something about autographs and this and that.

Wait a second, autographs? The picker in me thought "maybe a lead?"

Then I noticed these people's jittery type excitement....and a big bus outside...a bus tour maybe? Would explain why the place was hopping when I walked in....

Well, how about a TOUR BUS?

It quickly came apparent that the guy I "stared" off the phone was none other than Billy Gibbons, from ZZ TOP (only part of a long list of other reasons to recognize him - including being a prominent hot rod guy...Yes, I do really like ZZ Top's stuff....I am a 70's/80's kid, as well as being a hot rod fan).....and to top it off, here he is and he is in the same/same style (can you say "trademark?") hat that he was wearing that very day!

Yup, just people.

Amazing how I do not recognize these people, and yet I can pick out a treasure hidden amidst a pile of junk, and a treasure that everyone who saw the pile missed. A well developed might even be able to call it a talent.

And, that is what I am...just people...I mean, just a person. Yes, I have a talent. Yes, I hope to parlay it into something "more"...someday. We'll see, I am still working on it.

 So, any of you "fans" (or future "fans") out there, keep that in mind.  We (you, me, and the guy/gal over there) all have faults, issues, pasts, skeletons-in-our-closets, families, relatives, friends, etc, etc, etc.
We're all just plain ol' human. Fame all depends on mere circumstances, really.  Did you ever see the movie "The Postman?" Yeah, ok, I know some of you likely hate Kevin Costner's acting, blah, blah, blah...that isn't is these lines that happen to strike a chord:

Costner (as The Postman): "I know you! You're....famous."

Petty: "I was once....sorta."

Then later in the movie Tom Petty says to Costner:

"I heard of you, man... you're famous! "

Costner: "Yeah, I guess I am... "

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