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Topic: Setting a pitch at a flea market?
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (May 11, 2003 09:14AM)
We have a large flea Market here that runs year-around, with a beautiful new very large modern building, many "permanent" shops inside, and some large open common areas inside, and lots of outside spaces in the summer for the itinerant seller.

The traffic on Saturday, is in the thousands of people with pretty good flow most of the day.

I am going to be setting my pitch outside here in a few weeks. And I am just wondering if anyone else works a Flea market.

Seems to me there was a regular one in the parking lot (as I recall, but it may have been inside too - that was a lot of years ago..) at the Rose Bowl in LA back in the 70's and I saw a few performers around the perimeter there.

I certainly like the idea of foot traffic, and we don't have many (any?) "tourists" type, high traffic spots like Boston, or S.F. or even NYC, in this part of Ohio. So to work regularly, you need to follow the events; fairs, festivals, etc. And I don't like the idea of traveling 2-5 hours to work all day and drive back.

My only concern is that the crowds might have a "bargain hunters mentality" and may be hesitant to drop a tip. .. And another consideration is that crowds are a good percentage of repeat visitors, so I would probably need to change the act soemwhat over time. Like for the first 2 Saturdays, do Rings as a closer, then the next two do Cups and Balls. Thoughts on the need to change for the repeat audience would be also be appreciated.

But I am going to have a go at it, for a while and see what happens. The worst that happens, is that I get a few Saturdays worth of live practice, close to home. And who knows I may get something good going here - close to home.

Anyone work a flea market?

Thanks in advance for any info.

Message: Posted by: DonDriver (May 11, 2003 07:06PM)
Hey Dave,
I work flea markets,but I pitch Svengali decks.Sounds like a good market for that.
Not sure how a street act would do and just go for tips.Did you ask if they didn't mind you doing it,or are you going to rent a spot and just go for it.Let me know what you have in mind.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (May 11, 2003 09:11PM)
I will be renting a spot and work my pitch right there. Based on the ways things set up outside, you can set up as close or far from others as it would take optimize the situation, and not antagonize anyone else.

I will definitely pass the hat. And even if I don't pull much of a tip, like I said, the worst that will happen is that I will get a few Saturdays filled of some dedicated "practice time". I am going to practice anyway, so what better way to do that, than to real live people passing by, or stopping, if I do my job!

After reading Danny's story about giving up his old routine and going a whole diffeer direction, and thinking about my "cobbled together routine of opportunity" that I had been doing for some time. I decided that it wasnt really getting me what I want, and it was because of where I did it, (low traffic places) and what I did, (whatever I felt like doing at the time) I just decided to get serious, build a new act with some order and take it to a new level.

If I decide that it works good for me. (pays enough and/or helps me hone my act) I will try to work out a deal with the management to set up my pitch in one of the common areas of the building during cold weather. (This would assume that I can make money, and if I can, that means the people like what they see. Then I am sure the management wont have a problem with someone who entertains the patrons with wholesome family presentations and good clean magic.)

I would consider selling some things too, but there is a permanent magic shop at the Flea market (friends of mine own it) and I wouldn't want to skim the cream off his sales. But I can get a cut from him on who I send to him. So I figure that as I am drawing an edge, I can do a ball vase, stiff rope, or some of the easy working items he sells. And after I have passed the hat, I can tell them that they can buy this, or that, at the Magic shop inside. (I wouldnt tell them where to get it before I finished since I don't want them to leave without dropping a tip, just to go off and spend money with someone else on something I showed them. After they drop the tip, I will be glad to send them off to the shop. Then they can spend as much as they want elsewhere, because by then I will have gotten mine. ;-)

Message: Posted by: Turk (May 12, 2003 12:35AM)

Perhaps you might be able to integrate some balloon magic into your act.

At a Flea Market I go to, there is a kid dressed up like a clown and all he does is make balloon animal hats for the kids. He never stops and all the kids coming into the flea market are walking around with one of his balloon hats. I'll bet he makes a ton every Saturday and Sunday.

Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (May 12, 2003 07:45AM)
There is money to be made at a Flea Market. You will probably make more selling a "something" than actual busking. I have pitched magic (magic mouse, Sphengali Decks, Grand-ma’s necklace, etc.), done balloon animals (very good money), and I have done straight busking (show for tips).

The Flea Market that I did my show at was a very up-scale thing that happened in a parking lot the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C.. It was a very upscale Flea Market to say the least. There was lots of foot traffic from the tourists just doing the Georgetown scene. Hats were good.

In the late 70’s I actually did a couple of Sundays busking at the king of all Flea Markets in London. Portobello road. There were several other street performers. There was a novelty musician (home made instrument), a one-man band, a juggler, and of course, me (that I remember). Hats were very big! But that is a unique Sunday only event.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (May 12, 2003 07:46AM)

Thanks for the thought. But I don't do baloons or clowning. It just isn't my thing. But I can see what you are saying about the potential for making money. But not for me.

And frankly I don't know if I can stand that many kids, or to see another baloon doggie, or baloon hats, in one day anyway....;-)

My goal is to make my Act work there (if it can). And even if I am doing a good act and not making money. (Because I know a good street act WILL make money somewhere.) I would rather do that, than build baloon animals and make a few bucks.

But I appreciate the thought, and there may be other guys who find the suggestion useful!


Message: Posted by: Swami Bill (May 12, 2003 09:28AM)
BroDavid - Great minds think alike. And coincidentally so does mine. Our local paper in has just published a summer guide that gives times, dates and locations for the flea markets and farmers markets in the area. I had the idea to set up within close proximity to the events and give my show a go. As you point out it would be at the very least good practice in front of a live crowd. I'm convinced that there will not only be an abundance of people but I think that they will be more than happy to tip generously. Good luck with your efforts!

- Bill
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (May 12, 2003 04:34PM)
it doesn't matter where you are at...if there a re people there you can work...flea markets will great...except for you unless there are a lot of tourists you will see the same folks over and over....which is not great...

Message: Posted by: Turk (May 12, 2003 11:57PM)
On 2003-05-12 17:34, tedb wrote:
it doesn't matter where you are at...if there a re people there you can work...flea markets will great...except for you unless there are a lot of tourists you will see the same folks over and over....which is not great...


Great point, Koz!!

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (May 13, 2003 05:25AM)
Having worked flea markets in the past, I can agree with Harry's post -- you'll do much better if you are selling something magic-related or balloons (I did both, at one location).
Or, not mentioned, is getting paid directly by the market and performing as an attraction for them (I did that, too). That way you are guaranteed a fee.
But, no matter what you do, if you are after some "flow of cash", make sure that the customers at the flea market you pick are buyers and not just lookers!
Message: Posted by: John Smetana (May 17, 2003 04:39PM)
I've had some experience working flea markets for a number of seasons, but just did pitching of Svengali's, Rising and Vanishing Pen and Paddles. Money was OK but not great. The problem was, and maybe still is, the repeat customers. This market at the time, was one of the largest, if not the largest on the East coast, and didn't draw a tourist trade at all. At least not enough to notice. The first few weeks of the season were generally good, but then business slacked off.The people who were going to buy already did and the others weren't interested in buying...just watching.
I started selling other merch as well in order to make the poke.
I had considered doing an "act" but decided against it. There were several performers who set pitches there,mostly musicians, but the "hat" was very small and they made their money selling tapes, etc.There was one guy who set a sideshow type attraction that did OK for a few weeks then he was gone. He had mummy or some such in a tent and charged a buck to see it.
The magic market is very small and spending $5.00, at the time, was too much for a magic trick, especially for the people who were shopping the market to save a few bucks. Basically,I don't think that impulse buying at a flea market, is as good as it is at a fair or festival, which people attend for the entertainment.
I can say however, that it was a lot of fun to do, and I really enjoyed the experience.
If you decide to go forward with your plans I wish the much good luck and as always,

Best thoughts,
John Smetana :kewl:
Message: Posted by: trainerjep (May 28, 2003 02:39AM)
ive done flea markets, lots of fun, lots of getting practice in, and lots of cute girlies LOL :nose:
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 1, 2003 02:33PM)
It was raining hard Saturday, and cold too (56). So I just went to the Flea market to hang out inside, with my friend who runs a mgic shop there.

I had carried my rings in to show him the Capehart moves. He had about 6 people there looking at magic, and he stopped, and said Look, another magician. What it with those rings, so I started into the routine with the half dozen people, and when I got done, there were about 20 watching.

A little later, things got busy for him, so I stepped out of the way as he was demoing and selling stuff. I leaned up against a wall in an open area a short distance away, and was clinking my rings around, every once in a while doing a conventionqal link, and unlink, and I noticed a crowd starting. A little old lady seemed entertained and commented that it looked like on eof those nail puzzles that you have to know how to get apart. I kidded with her, that I think it islike that. And sometimes the rings hook together and I cant get them apart. By now there were about 12 people. So I started into the routine and had a great time. After a little more than 5 minutes, I involved about 5 people direectly, and all of them inderectly, and I had about 30 people total stopped. I couldn't pass the hat because they are very strict about anything inside the building - if you don't have a permenent space there. But I told everyone to come back next week outside to see a real magic show!

I still can't belive how easy easily the rings drew a crowd. I was wearing blue jeans and a baseball hat, hardly looking like a magician, and did nothing but play with the rings and people stopped! I am really going to have some fun next week. I will start doing my 12 minute act outside (weather permitting), with the rings as my closer.

Message: Posted by: cfrye (Jun 1, 2003 02:37PM)
Bro David,

Which set of rings did you take with you? Were they the smaller 5" variety, or something closer to stage size?
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 1, 2003 05:54PM)
I took the 10" set that I just bought specifically for this routine. I wanted a 12" set, but they didn't have any, and my buddy Yendor, made me a great deal on these,

As it turns out, this size is about perfect. The bigger the rings, the harder to do the impossible link (aka Crash Link), at least for me. I don't think I could do it with 12" rings. But I saw a guy doing the move with the little Ninja rings, and we were talking afterwards. He was kind enough to let me try them, and they worked very good for the move, which I understand Shoot Ogawa teaches as part of the Ninja routine.

But when it comes to getting people's attention and drawing a crowd, I say the bigger the better.

And in case you are wondering what kind of guy would be walking around with a set of 3 big rings.... I have no problem with it...

In this day and age, walkling along with 3 - 10 inch rings, or about anything else, on your hip hardley gets a glance - Until you take them in hand and begin to make magic. And even if did attract attention, all the better ;) That is exactly what you want.

Message: Posted by: Nick Alexander (Jun 9, 2003 09:46PM)
Message: Posted by: Ojasa (Jun 9, 2003 11:57PM)
I have thought about using Linking rings as a closer, but never used it...

( I am going to try something new, that I will talk about later if it works well, and doesn't land me in the slammer.)

At the time I had decided on using the Smaller rings for one reason only...

I used to work as a whitewater rafting guide, and on the day float trips we worked mainly for tips... One of the girls I worked with day after day pulled in the biggest hats. Other girls ran around in Bikini's some had great stories, everyone had a gimmick. Her gimick was a native american flute. But she consistantly pulled in more than the others who played...

One day I had the fortune of running with her, and I caught the key line...

After her first song, she would appologise if it sounded a little flat, her flute had gotten wet, and she was saving all her tip money for a new one... :light:

I think psycologically this planted the word tip again, and it gave the people something tangible that their money would go to. Something that would later give other people joy, and something that would fuel her passion for music. She became a charity...

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but she could have bought a new flute every day with her tips.

How many ways can you use this basic Idea?

With the smaller rings...

Sorry for those of you in back, I am saving my tips for a bigger set?

The ones in front are more likely to tip, and they could care less of the smaller rings... The ones in the back could be motivated to tip because you were thinking about them...

I have wanted to try it, and still might... Maybe in a restaraunt...

Let me know if you use it.

Message: Posted by: Kamal (Jun 10, 2003 08:33PM)
These are some great ideas... keep them coming....
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jun 11, 2003 12:37AM)
The impossible link is the crash link while a single is already linked, right? I was trying that today and it's amazing looking in the mirror! I love that link. It wasn't too hard to do. Not easy mind you. I've got to practice it more. Did give myself a blood blister from getting pinched a couple times, but that's worth it for such a link! Thanks for turning me on to Capehart's moves.
Message: Posted by: Patrick McKeever (Jun 11, 2003 11:09AM)
Bro Dave
I worked a large flea market in Wimberley, Tx. this week end. It's a once a month deal and they really draw the crowds. So, I was extremly hopeful.
I had hope to establish a pitch near the pavillion where they serve food. Unfortunately that is also where the local bands set up. I have worked too many corporate parties and had to compete with bands. It ain't no fun. So I went out in search of a pitch.
The best spot I could find where I could draw an edge of possibly 15-20 souls was an unused stall that had enough room in front of the stall to set up and still leave enough room to draw an edge without completely obstructing the lane. the edge never materialized. I once again found myself catching people on the fly as they scurried from one booth to the next. Obviously not the most efficient way to earn a buck. I was saying to myself: "could Gazzo do any better under these circumstances." Probably. But, I wonder.

Fortunately there was a lady vendor next to me who gave me an unsolicited critique. She had lived at Venice Beach in California and told me she had seen untold street perfomers. She told me that my magic was as good or better than anything she had seen (we have all heard that) and that my solicitations to passers by were both delightful and charming. I told her of my frustration in my inability to build a crowd. She said that frankly she couldn't imagine what else I could possibly do without tieing them down. By the end of the day, she had seen my complete act. Piecemeal, because I ended up doing only a couple of tricks for each group of two or three, many of them from my close up repertoire.
Now, I am new at this street thing, but I am a more than competent magician; I'm a likeable guy who is not shy; I have a fairly ready wit;I talk to everybody who passes, and folks: I AIN'T GETTING THE COON.
I have definately drawn some conclusions from my now half vast experience. You gotta find a pitch where people are not hell bent for somewhere else. A spot where they feel it is o.k. to stop and take a breather. tourist towns must be great.
Dave, If you can find a pitch where people are chilling for a spell, say near food concessions and you have room to work without blocking traffic, you have a good crack at success. I personally, have learned my lesson about trying to work in a narrow lane.
One other thing: Something I read in Whit Hydn's booklet keeps coming back to me. If you can find a spot that yoou think has potential, just stake it out. You will get to feel as though you own it but most important other people learn that it is your spot. And if you are doing something entertaining in that spot, folks will come around to see the guy who does the really cool act. You become a landmark. Like Jeff Sheridan. I,m still looking for that spot.
Good luck, Patrick
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 11, 2003 11:48AM)
Many of the ideas here are not just for a fleamarket pitch, but reality for any busking pitch.

I have yet to get to do my full show outside due to the rain here, (Strange weather for June, but in Ohio we always say, if you don't like he weather here, stick around, it will change...) And I have no where else to go so I will stick it out.

I have been continuing my impropmtu practices and showing out wherever there is enough traffic to draw a crowd. It is great for practice and bcoming known.

James, that move just slays the audiences!

You clearly link a ring right through the top, while you already have a ring linked. They can see that between where you hit it, and the other ring is hanging, there is NO WAY to make that link but magic! But Capehart's stuff is very good, with some really nice moves. Glad you liked it.

I still ocassionally whack myself hard enough to get a bone bruise that takes about four days to stop hurting. Then I wake up, and am more precise in my handling. Eventually I hope to quit hurting myself soon and get it right from the start every time.

Yep Patrick, the perfect pitch is the goal.

My hope is that when I get well enough known, I can work out a deal with the Flea Market folks to work inside in a large common traffic area near the food courts during the cold weather.

Great advice, and good comments guys! Thanks!

Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jun 11, 2003 04:26PM)
Per the impossible link, I find that moving the whole shabang downward, that is it ends up lower than at the start of the crash link, helps me. The ring that I link stays pretty much at the same altitude, but the other two rings end up lower. And I freeze! Holding the just linked ring in the middle of the key. The moving down helps, I think, because it tends to keep the already-linked ring from falling off. Know what I mean? How much is the Capehart video? Is it on DVD? Where can one get it? Thanks.

Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 11, 2003 07:59PM)
That definitley helps on that move. I did that link on Saturday, and I just flat missed the link on it, (Loud clank, ring against ring, lots of noise and no link..) and I looked down, and then looked the spectator in front right in the eye, and said, See, I told you it was impossible! Did you really think I could link this one here, while this other one was in the way? And then I hit it again, and linked it slick as a whistle, and you could see the guys jaw drop. ;)

Man, I love these rings and those moves!

The DVD has that move on it, and all of the rest, and is definitely worthwhile from the perfomance standpoint.

However it doesn't give near enough detail on things like that move, and even the unlink is almost ignored. However the combination of the Stars of Magic booklet and the DVD closes the gap on it.

I got my DVD from Chris at a Lecture. It was $25 and had the obvious benefit of not having to pay for shipping.

The quality of the video is good and it shows him in perfroming (In a living room...) and then goes though the moves on a stage where the backdrop is very good to see everything. I like it a lot, but as I said earlier, I think it lacks some teaching detail that I would have found helpful.

Chirs has a web site http://www.chriscapehart.com which has some contact information for him. (Nothing much else, though so don't get your hopes up.) I think he is traveling right now, and he said he would be at the Chicago Buskers conference, so I don't know how quick he will be able to respond. But he lists a phone number as well as a street address. Consider the prices for a lot of DVD,s I thnk this would still be a good deal even paying shipping.

Message: Posted by: MagiUlysses (Jun 11, 2003 08:50PM)
Greetings and Salutations All,

Bro is correct, although I didn't realize it until now, the two together are a good combination to learn the routine. I'm a visual learner, and I just wasn't getting the whole thing from the book, but once I had both, both made sense, if that makes sense. Ah ha, I have it, they complement each other.

I discovered that it was just easier to call the number listed on the web site. I actually talked to Chris for a few minutes ... very nice guy, and also talked to his wife, Cheryl, who, I believe, arranged the workings for my transaction.

They only charge a couple or three bucks for the shipping, and I think I got it in less than a week after they received my check -- no muss no fuss.

I also got his lecture notes, on which he covers aspects of working on the streets (and a selection of card and coin effects) -- nothing earth-shaking or new but a different point of view from a guy who has been on the streets.

Hope this helps. Have fun playing on the streets.

Hey, James, how was your trip to the Magic Castle? I thought I read a couple of months ago that you were taking your girlfriend there for her birthday? Very clever!

Joe in KC

Live a great adventure, make magic happen!
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jun 12, 2003 12:06AM)
Very clever exactly! My girlfriend and I were laughing about it all night, how I was throwing this great bday party for her by taking her to the castle--but it was really a present for myself as well. We had a blast. We had about 8 people with us and most had never seen live magic before. They were blown away. Especially by Whit Haydn! And, of course, the highlight for me was meeting Whit and watching him perform. He killed us. His humor is quite unique. He was gracious enough to sign a couple of his books for me that I had brought with me.

About Capehart's lecture notes, does he talk about making his money pitch etc., a la Cellini's video? Or is it just about the effects?

How're the fairs going, Joe? I'm supposed to play a fair this Sunday.

Message: Posted by: MagiUlysses (Jun 12, 2003 09:14AM)
Greetings and Salutations James,

Glad to hear you had a good time at the Castle, and that your girlfriend is willing to share presents ... you're a lucky man.

To be honest, I can't remember him mentioning a money pitch, but I've only had time to buzz over the material. Like I said, I don't recall anything ground-breaking, but I always like to get multiple viewpoints, and it deserves a closer read than I've been able to give it.

Did a little rope and rope-and-ring action at the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Festival during past month, hawking for my game booth, but that faire has run its course and is done for the season.

My girlfriend and I have a couple of business interests at that faire which keeps us hopping for about six months, so the magishing has taken a back seat, temporarily.

Once I get through July I'll be hitting it hard, working on some rings, and the cups, of course, to play with while I do some occasional hawking for a friend of mine at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

Enjoy your upcoming faire! Do you have a regular show worked out, doing a street act, or walking around?

Have fun playing in the streets!

Joe in KC

Live a great adventure, make magic happen!
Message: Posted by: Jesse Dains (Jun 12, 2003 05:59PM)
I am new here but not new to pitching. I have made a living at it for over 30 years.
And reading this forum has to say the least been confusing.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 12, 2003 08:06PM)

Maybe you could start a new thread and tell us what you find to be so confusing here.

Your message is deep into this thread and may be missed by some people. But with your thirty years of experience, I would be interested to hear what you have to say.


James, he really doesn't talk about the money pitch on the DVD.

And as for the Lecture Notes, they are 25 printed pages and include;
1. A two page [b]Intro[/b]
2. one page on [b]Choosing A location[/b] (he speaks about PHI, NYC, CHI, LAX, SFO, NWO, DC
3. a paragraph on [b]Appearance[/b]
4. The rest of the page - [b]Gathering a crowd[/b]
5. one page with [b]What to Carry[/b], and [b]Length of Show[/b]
6. one page on Money Made on the Street, descriptions of his work and the tip
7. about 2/3 page on [b]Collecting the Money. [/b]

That is the performing info other, and then there are the 6 individual effects.

Then there is one page showing how to make the Ones to Fiwes gimmick, which although he does not credit it, is Patrick Page's gimmick. His handling is a bit different, though.

And one page showing pictures (obviously multiple generation xerox copies - so the quality isn't the greatest) of moves used in his routines, like a page with Bobo's Click pass, a page with a couple of card moves, and apage with his continuous coin moves.

All in all, the lecture notes use large type giving about 30 lines per page, and only enough detail to convey the basics. But it is still has a number of good elements in content.

Message: Posted by: Jesse Dains (Jun 13, 2003 10:38AM)
Let me first say I am new to this site and it looks great and I can see I will be able to learn a lot here. And hopefully I can be of some help to others.
There were a couple of things that confused me in this thread, first was the term in the header, “setting up a pitch”. I just don’t know what was meant by that. I do know what it means to set up a pitch joint.
I am finding it very hard to put this in words on a screen, without it sounding like a braggart.
Let me try this angle. In my world to pitch magic you need the right equipment. Not just a trick to sell. You need what we refer to as “the joint”
How you present the pitch is as important as presentation in any magic trick. In a sense I would say the most magical thing about any “trick” is the presentation. Take your favorite trick ….when you perform it, its amazing and entertaining… give that same trick to some one who has never performed it ……and you will get….well not much. The difference is in the performance. The difference in making a lot of money (to me the whole idea of pitching) and not doing much (blanking) is the presentation.
As a magician, if some one came to me and said tell me how do a magic routine.
……….I would tell them to watch magicians every chance they get, read books and watch videos. Talk to working magicians; learn to perform something that interests you. Practice your new routine at magic club meetings or before other magicians.
When you can do it with skill……you are ready go public.
As a pitchman if someone asked me how to do a pitch……..I would say basically the same thing read books, watch videos, watch and talk to working pitchmen..(they are thick at most any county fair). Learn to pitch something that interests you…
When you understand how a pitch works…..how to build a tip….how to set a tip….and how to turn the tip….. how to frame your pitch joint. And what makes a good location. Then you are ready to start pitching.
The easiest way in my mind to learn this, is to work with an experienced pitchman until you learn enough to go it alone.
I can’t teach anyone to be a pitchman in one posting on line. It would be like you trying to teach me your magic routine and timing and booking skills in one posting.
However if any has any one has questions that I can answer, without writing a whole book, I would be happy to do my best.
There is good money to be made pitching in flea markets if it done right.
One last thought about being a pitchman….Pitching is a business, to be successful, treat it like a business.
Hoping this does not offend any one…………………Jesse

Well don’t I feel stupid. I just read that in buskering …Pitch…can mean your location….I know nothing about buskering….and I guess that is what the thread was about. …sorry I’ll try to keep my mouth shut.
Message: Posted by: Patrick McKeever (Jun 14, 2003 12:40PM)
Now that you have been properly chastised...Many of us on this thread are interesting in pitching and would be very interested in your input. Do you by any chance know Gregg Gibson, an excellent magic pitch man? He has been hitting pool tournaments, lately, pitching his wares. He also does some street work. For that, he simply does his pitch. Woeks great.

Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 14, 2003 06:52PM)
Yes, Jesse. I agree with Patrick, I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Eventually we will all learn soemthing new.

I certainly wasnt offended that you were confused. So was I when I first came here!


Message: Posted by: Jesse Dains (Jun 14, 2003 08:19PM)
Thanks for not discounting me as a complete idiot.
I have trained a lot of pitchmen, well maybe not a lot, quit a few is more like it ….OK …OK a few….. The number one mistake I’ve seen, believe it or not, is they don’t ask for money. I watched a pitch-person at a state fair last year who even had a register set up with a second person to take your cash …check…or credit card .
They got to the close and didn’t ask for money! I walked away in disbelief. The only reason I can think of that a person would not ask for the money is that they are uncomfortable (scared) asking for money.
I am sure if I asked the pitch-person why they didn’t ask for money she would have called me a liar. Most of the pitchmen I trained felt that way at first. The reason they think they asked for money is because they told them the price……” I sell these for $20.00”
That is a statement, that is not asking for money.
Here is an example of asking (maybe telling is a better word)…….

”Folks you have seen these on T.V. and on Ebay you know they sell for $60.00 to $90.00 each and they are worth every penny. Right now …today ….I am authorized by the manufacture to sell a limited number of these for just $39.00 if you can use two get two for just$75.00 or 3 for a 100 dollar bill. Please don’t ask for more than three we are here to advertise not to set up dealers. (We still haven’t asked yet…..here it comes.) Reach into your pocket…..your purse…..your wallet….your sock…..or the hills of home….wherever you keep your money…pull out your cash and hold it up in the air, so I can see you and I’ll wait on you as fast as I can. You want one over there….one down here.’
“ Yes we takes credit cards, checks whatever is easiest for you……those of you who haven’t seen it yet….hold on just a second…I’m going to do the whole thing over again as soon as I wait on these nice people…they are giving me money and I appreciate that, but you can relax, you don’t have to.Those of you who already have seen it…step up behind the people getting them now….I will wait on you as fast as I can. Yes I can change a $100.00 bill…..I can change anything but your last name. Thank you sir, who is next?”

Well there is more to asking for money………for now I’ll stop here. Let me know if you want me to keep going. Or change the subject.
Message: Posted by: cfrye (Jun 14, 2003 09:05PM)

This is great stuff, because asking for (and getting) money after busking is one of the toughest parts of the enterprise.

There was a great show on the Discovery Channel a few months ago called Infomercials: The Art of the Pitch (or something like that). The show featured interviews with Ed McMahon and other experienced pitchmen.

I'd love to hear more from you about your techniques for creating an attractive presentation and getting the money at the end.
Message: Posted by: John Smetana (Jun 14, 2003 09:14PM)
Hi Jesse,
Really glad to see you here. As you've probably noticed you certainly have our attention. If possible could you give us a bit of background on yourself? How old are you..how long have you been pitching..what type of merchandise do/did you handle..where do/did you work? Etc.etc.

Best thoughts,
John Smetana
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jun 14, 2003 11:25PM)
As a long time salesman, sales trainer, and developer of sales training courses, I can tell you that the hardest thing to get a new sales person to do, is to "Close the Sale".

It is easier to get them out knocking on doors, and talk to people they have never seen before, than it is to get them to actually summarize the benefits, and then to ask for money.

I cant tell you the number of times, a salesman talked and talked and talked, and then simply walked away, and never once asked for the order.

Our new friend Jesse has hit on one the major issues that relates to busking. And he has provided an excellent example!

If you don't tell people what you expect, they won't know what you expect. So if you expect to be counting money, instead of sorrows at the end of the day, you had better be asking for it. And most people have a lot on their minds, so if you wnat to get through to them, you need to ask more than once, and tell them what you want them to do.

I love the line from Celliniin right in his opening, (My paraphrase) "People ask what does he do? He does magic and amazes, and confuses and confounds. Some people ask why does he do it? <Pause> Money.... <Pause> No one's laughing now..."

Like the old sales strategy that goes; "close early, and close often", I say ask early, and ask often.

Thanks again to Jesse for bringing up a key issue.

Message: Posted by: Jesse Dains (Jun 15, 2003 01:15AM)
Thanks for the response it helps me to hear from you, it lets me know you are reading this.
I would also like to know your stories about asking for money when you are busking.

Curt, I just spent about 18 months in Portland, I have family there. I wish I could have met you while I was there. I have been here in Texas less than 2 months. I will be up there (Portland) for a few days sometime this summer, maybe we could chat over a cup of coffee.

I’ll be 56 this month; I started doing magic when I was in high school. I did a lot of card stuff like everyone else. I also did escapes, ropes and straight jacket mostly. I also studied short cons. I was really drawn to confidence games. In my early twenties I testified in court as a technical witness against a pair of short change artists. A few years later I was asked to give a lecture, at the University of Oregon, on the physiology of the conman.
Afterward a group of the students sent me a letter saying that my lecture was the most intellectual and entertaining lecture they had attended at the university. Made me feel good.
Right after high school I joined a carnival working in games, this was a great opportunity to meet con artist and I learned a lot from them. I ended up getting stabbed three times one night; I kind of stayed from the rough ones after that. But I stayed with carnivals for quit a few years. I owned a variety of games.
I wanted to get away from the show lot and get onto the independent midway. I had become friends with Jack Waller, Jack was a showman, He had sideshows and pitched the wonder mouse, I talked him into breaking me in and I’ve been pitching ever since.
The mouse was my favorite item to pitch. After several years I learned that there was a lot more money to be made pitching more expensive items.
Through the years I sold a variety of items some magical and other items as well. Here and there I slipped some different things, Like Promoting home shows and concerts. When I promoted an event my pitch agents always got the best locations of course. I believe it was in 1978 I met Don Driver while I was pitching in Baltimore. I caught his act ….we became friends…and he taught me the Blockhead routine. Don posts here and he is a truly great guy, a long time sideshow working act and a magician as well as a pitchman.
I think he has a post in this thread.
It’s getting late here, I’ll add something else about asking for money then close for now.
When you are pitching you have to stop people before you can talk to them. I imagine it’s the same with busking. Sometime it’s harder than others, so when I am finishing the turn (taking the money) when I think I have the last person that’s going to turn, I wont let them go . I won’t even take their money, I will say something like” I know you missed the first part of that, let me show you this first before I take your money, just hang onto it for a minute.” Trust me it confuses people when you won’t take their money, and they will wait and listen and watch. (notice I don’t ask them if they want to watch it again I tell I am going to show them again…If you give them a choice they could say no.)It is much easier to build a tip if you have the first person standing there. You now have an automatic stick this time when you ask for the money, they will be ready, they want to get it and get out of there . They don’t want to see it a third time.
I will leave it to you to decide if you can change that to fit your situation.
A quick story and I’m out of here. Once I watching an agent, who worked for me, finish
a turn, except for one man who kept asking question after question, after
4 or 5 of these questions the agent looks at this guy and says “ Let me explain to you how this works, It’s my job to sell them and it’s your job to buy them, I’ve done my job now it’s time for you to do yours.” The man nodded his head and
reached for his wallet. That agent was a little crude but he understood what his job was.
No matter what happens ask for money, if a car drives by and the tire flips up a rock, it hits you in the head and you are bleeding, make a quick judgment of how long you think it will be before you pass out then use that time to ask for money. I mean that, some of my best turns have been when I was bleeding. If the trick goes wrong……if you break a prop… if you have to stop for any reason …ask for money! Those people have your money in there pocket and if you ask them right (tell them)they will give to you….Really.
Good night friends………………….Jesse
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Jun 15, 2003 11:15AM)
Hey Jesse...thanks for your kind words...
I learn a two step thing when pitching to get money when I worked the JAM in Vegas.First get it out of their pocket...than get it out of their hand.
It goes like this."who came to have some fun...everybody take out $5.00 and hold it in the air...don't send it up,just hold it up.I'm going to count you in or out
I can do this for about `10 people ...theirs one over their...one over here... I'm not sure if its 10 people or not looking from up here..but from the back,it looks like a stick up in a beer joint. Who thinks this is thirsty work,don't you know it...who enjoyed my show well enough,thinks I worked hard enough,they would buy me a cold drink...Young man...go around to all thoses people and get $5.00...folks don't expect a thing in return for your five...but it might be the most important $5.00 you spend today....I want to thank you one and all...
IT works.... Have a nice Day,Don
Message: Posted by: Jesse Dains (Jun 15, 2003 11:22AM)
Thanks for addition, that is a really great and I know time proven money getter,
I have seen it done, it is amazing how eager people are to be part of the fun. Can’t wait to hear more from you.

You are so right…….about sales…..just like you have to sell them the idea that the coin really vanished……..you have to sell them on the idea that they want to give you their money.

Message: Posted by: John Smetana (Jun 16, 2003 01:56PM)
Ahh...Pitching..Carnivals...Sideshows...Flea Markets...Busking...Money, (not necessarily in that order)..all the things that make life worth living..Is this a great country or what?
Seriously, thanks to all of you for keeping this thread alive and a special thanks to Jesse and David for their insights.Hope they will keep 'em coming.

Best thoughts,
John Smetana :kewl: