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Topic: Pitch Venues for a newbie.
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 25, 2009 09:43PM)
Hey all,

Thanks so much for sharing so much information in this forum. Everyone is very supportive and knows their stuff. I've emailed back and forth with Don a few times this weekend and decided to buy his DVD. I just got engaged and am looking for a way to supplement my income so that I can avoid incurring any sort of debt from our wedding (no comments about the implausibility of this, I'll be darned if I'm starting my marriage in debt). So anyways, I have until the end of May. I am up in the Cleveland/Akron area. I am looking for any advice really, but my main question is where do I start pitching? It's cold and dark up here now for the next 5 months. What do I google? What do I look for in the papers? How do I find my venues to keep myself busy? Thanks so much.


PS-I'm sure Don covers some or all of this in his DVD, I'm just trying to get a head start. Also, anyone in Ohio know what kind of vendor's license I need? Thanks.
Message: Posted by: B Hackler (Oct 25, 2009 10:47PM)
In my area we have flea markets that are inside which works out pretty good during the cold months. You could see if there is any flea markets that are indoors in your area.
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 25, 2009 10:55PM)
Car shows,Boat shows,Christmas shows.Call the local civic center or where ever they hold shows like that in your area and get a list.

I already found this: http://www.clevelandautoshow.com/ and


Now you go find more.....

Also the local fair grounds hold some shows,call them etc.

Your DVD went out today.

Thanks for your business...Don
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 26, 2009 08:25AM)
Jeff -- Look for Christmas bazaars at the churches in your area. Check the [i]weekly[/i] papers, they are much more likely to list upcoming fleas, bazaars, special events, etc.

When you are working a show, ask the other vendors about upcoming shows; since you are likely the only Svengali pitchman in your area, they will not view you as competition and should be glad to help you out.

In the beginning, you will have to hustle a bit to get started, but after a while, it does get easier. Good Luck! SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 26, 2009 10:11AM)
Thanks all.

Another question. If I want to hit the ground running, should I just stick to the Deck and a TCM kicker to start off? I've never worked with a squirmle.
I imagine it would keep me more focused on perfecting one pitch and also help me keep my overhead lower to get started. Thoughts?
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 26, 2009 10:39AM)
Good question!! I started with just the deck and added the worm about a year later. Then I was sorry I hadn't added the worm sooner, because at least for me, it is a tremendous crowd puller and a very good seller in my venues (I now sell about four worms to every deck).

On the other hand, if you have never worked with IT before, it will definitely take about 2-3 weeks to get up and running with the Squirmle, and probably a few more months before you stop breaking a lot of gimmicks during your demos. (I still carry about a dozen pre-tied spares, just in case I have a bad day.) There is a knack to working with IT that cannot be taught, it must be learned by doing.

You also need to become comfortable enough with the gimmick that the animation looks completely natural. I have plenty of people guess that the worm works by magnets, static electricity, gravity, body heat, friction, conduction, and so on. But those who don't know almost never guess the actual gimmick, because the handling doesn't suggest or lead to that conclusion. When you can make the worm move up, down, sideways, and forward or backward in different dimensions, and also jump through hoops, people are thrown off the scent. Practicing in front of a mirror can be very helpful in this regard, so that you can see what the crowd sees, and work towards getting and enhancing that effect (it's really quite amazing from the other side!!)

But I will say that pitching the deck and the worm together is an unbeatable combination. The worm attracts the crowd and sells to kids who may not be quite old enough to handle the deck. Then you can pitch the deck to teens and older folks who have little interest in the worm.

So in my experience, pitching both is a desirable goal, but you certainly don't have to start out doing both. I'm sure it's better to have one pitch down completely, so you can do it in your sleep, than to have two mediocre pitches and not be really familiar with either one. Maybe one answer is to figure out who will be your primary audience and start with that trick, then add the other one later. SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 26, 2009 12:09PM)
Thanks Seth. Good advice. I've spoken with Don and I'll be ordering a few gross of each to get the ball rolling. I will also be putting my own TCM together. Where will I get the best prices on the DB, DF decks? Thanks.
Message: Posted by: B Hackler (Oct 26, 2009 12:45PM)
Funinc.com has pretty good prices.
Message: Posted by: sescarny (Oct 26, 2009 12:57PM)
Here's a little tip I learned long ago. When you are starting out, try to video yourself practicing. In front of a mirror is ok for working the gimmick, but video is great for the whole presentation..
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 26, 2009 01:42PM)
To hold down shipping costs (and also meet your minimum wholesale purchase requirements), I'd suggest getting your TCM card stock from wherever you're getting your Svengali Decks from. I think both Robbins and FUN, Inc. carry them, not sure about Loftus. SETH
Message: Posted by: Bill Beach (Oct 26, 2009 08:22PM)
Hi Jeff,

Good sound thinking on your part not to go into debt when starting your marriage. I just moved to the Cleveland area last year and have done only a few outdoor flea markets, my day job has prevented me from being very active the past few months.

If you do a quick Google search for Ohio Vendors License you will find the information on what you need. It's a transient vendors license (since you will not be doing business from one sole location). As I recall, it costs $25.

Also, if you do a search here at the Café, you will find sources in previous threads for banners, attention flags, canopy parts, tarps, and most anything you will need in putting together your pitch joint.

I'll second Seth's recommendation on Squirmles, they are a great tip builder.

PM me when you book a show, I'd like to stop by and make your personal acquaintance.

Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 26, 2009 09:56PM)
Thanks Bill. I'll let you know when I pitch. I'm more in the Akron area, but obviously I'll try to cast a pretty wide net.
I tried to get ahold of Carl today for the squirmles, but had no luck. I just wrote him an email and will try again tomorrow. As soon as I get some inventory, I'll get going.
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 26, 2009 11:27PM)
Bill, send me your contact info. partywithjeff@yahoo.com
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 26, 2009 11:44PM)
Carl is in China for a few more days but someone should be in the warehouse.

Message: Posted by: Rod Pringle (Oct 27, 2009 04:38AM)
Hello Don:

Hey thanks for this info, I can't reach Carl either, I was wondering what was going on?

Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 27, 2009 07:29AM)
Jeff, if you are going with Squirmles, I strongly suggest that you also get some good IT for your demos.

In my experience, the best IT for the worms is the Kevlar IT from James George's Sorcery Shop. He sells a 40-foot piece for $15, and it must have 50+ strands in it. Since you will only need about a 26-inch strand for one gimmick, there is enough IT there for at least two lifetimes of demos. It's not pre-stripped, but it's very easy to remove one strand at a time with just a little patience and some practice; the instructions explain how to do it. Click [url=http://themagicwarehouse.com/cgi-bin/findit.pl?x_item=SP5128&x_return=/cgi-bin/newsearch.pl&keyword=KEVLAR]HERE[/url] for more info.

Kevlar IT is about 20% stronger than regular nylon IT, and it is also smoother and more slippery, which is great since the gimmick needs to run through and over your hands. Unlike regular IT which just snaps and breaks, the Kevlar IT stretches very slightly just before it snaps, giving you some warning that it's under too much tension. The Kevlar IT might be slightly shinier than regular nylon IT, so you still need to be careful about light sources (although people cannot see the IT, they may see the reflection of light off the IT, which is just as bad). But if you work in the shade under a tent with this stuff, or stay away from bright direct indoor lights, anyone further than 24 inches away (the width of your pitch table) will never see a thing.

Also, get yourself a $3 container of Johnson's Baby Powder (the cornstarch-based kind, NOT the talcum stuff). If you dust the palms, sides and top of your hands before each show, you will have far fewer broken gimmicks, because the baby powder drastically reduces any friction or drag caused by rough skin or perspiration (if you're outside on a hot day). SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 27, 2009 02:45PM)
Seth, thanks for all the info. I have probably about 20-30 feet of the stuff sitting in my close-up drawer. Not sure if it's kevlar or nylon, but in either case, I'll probably kill all of that before I get something else.

Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 27, 2009 03:27PM)
Just talked with the Squirmle warehouse. Ordered 2 cases. Guess I should find a venue to pitch them. Haha!

I got called to Substitute teach today, so I couldn't go grab my vendor's license, but as soon as I do I'll order my cards from Loftus. This isn't 100% certain, because if they don't sell DF and DB decks then I might go elsewhere.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 27, 2009 03:48PM)
You may be able to get that license online and save yourself a trip. SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 27, 2009 04:01PM)
I've seen mail-in and walk-in. Didn't see online. It's a pretty short trip, just need to find time to make it.
Message: Posted by: Bill Beach (Oct 28, 2009 11:28AM)
Jeff - I e-mailed you - Bill
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 28, 2009 01:01PM)
Thanks Bill.

Hey all, what's the etiquette for talking wholesale prices on the forum? I don't know if it'd be a good idea, but I definitely want to have the conversation.
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 28, 2009 01:28PM)
I don't think its a good idea to talk wholesale prices in an open fourm.

Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 28, 2009 03:49PM)
Didn't think so. Just trying to weigh the pros and cons of the different deck suppliers.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 29, 2009 06:53PM)
If you are ordering a lot of product, you may want to go with the wholesaler that's closest to you for speedy service and savings on shipping charges. Magic City and Murphy's are on the West Coast, Fun, Inc. is in Chicago, and D. Robbins is in New Jersey. Ideally, if you run out of something over the weekend, you need to know that if you pick up the phone on Monday morning, your order will be at your door before the following weekend. If I order on-line from Robbins on Monday, the box is on my front porch Wednesday afternoon, without fail. That's important.

Also consider that most folks carry some other companies' stuff. For example, Robbins also carries the "Royal Magic" Svengali Decks made by Fun, Inc. I like those decks, but I get other stuff exclusively from Robbins, so that's who I use for the bulk of my orders. Price is important, but it's not the only consideration. SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 29, 2009 10:07PM)
I'm considering Fun over Loftus. I think Fun has the edge on proximity and price.

In other news: I have my first venue. I will put about 12 hours in at a 100+ exhibitor Christmas craft fair at a big Catholic church in downtown Akron on the 14th and 15th of November. I just got my worms and Don's DVD today. Still need to order my decks. Wish me luck!!
Message: Posted by: B Hackler (Oct 29, 2009 11:06PM)
Fun inc also sells the worms as well as the decks and double facers for the two card monte effect.
Message: Posted by: sescarny (Oct 29, 2009 11:35PM)
Break A Leg and G.T.F.M.!!!! Let us know how it goes. Just remember, practice and then practice more, but above all, be yourself. people won't buy from someone who is obviously fake. Have fun!!!

Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 29, 2009 11:44PM)
The two most important things to remember.

1- Move the tip up close.

2- Ask for money.

Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 30, 2009 10:44AM)
Best of luck to you, and please let us know how it goes! SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 30, 2009 05:06PM)
You guys rock. Thanks for all the support.

I am correct to assume that the Loftus SV-0001 Svengali Deck is a viable "worker?" Or do I need to pick up a different deck to sell these ones?
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 30, 2009 05:08PM)
They are workers

Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 30, 2009 05:31PM)
Thought so. Thanks Don.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 30, 2009 06:09PM)
I saw a sample Loftus deck a while ago and was very impressed with it, especially for the price. Good instructions, too, which helps to prevent walkbacks. SETH
Message: Posted by: Picard_1114 (Oct 30, 2009 07:11PM)

I was wondering about the worm.

Seth talks a lot about using IT for it even though there is a lot of breakage.

I was under the impression that a grafter would just use fishing line, or at best the thread that comes attached to the squirmle in the blister packs. I wouldn't think a real grafter would have time for all the fiddling with IT. It's not really a magic show -- its pitching.

Am I wrong?
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Oct 30, 2009 07:31PM)
Yep you sure are.I have learned a lot myself about the squirmle and how to best pitch it in the last few years.They wern't around when I was out pitching the Svengali deck everyday for all thoses years.Only the magic mouse was a pitch item.I never liked the mouse because all you could get for one was .50 cents at the time.(thats retail,remember this was the early 70's)

You really need to use IT with the squirmle to pitch it.I just worked the New York state fair and every night Alex would tie up about 15 for the next day.(I'm too old and blind to do it)keep them in a single layer fishing tackle box with all the square compartments.

If the marks figure out how it works they won't buy it.

Message: Posted by: Bill Beach (Oct 30, 2009 09:22PM)

When we get together, if you'd like, I can show you an alternative hook-up I've started using for the Squirmle. It's worked well for me the past few times I've been out pitching.

Remember, also, the type of shirt you wear is also important. It serves as the background. Seth has some wise thoughts on the subject here:

Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Oct 31, 2009 02:14AM)
I'm always willing to learn Bill. Thanks for offering your wisdom.

I used to mess around with IT levitation and definitely appreciate the need for a "loud" shirt.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Oct 31, 2009 02:20PM)
[quote] On 2009-10-30 Picard_1114 wrote: Seth talks a lot about using IT for it even though there is a lot of breakage. [/quote]
There is some breakage, but in my opinion it is unavoidable and it's not that big of a deal. If you are pitching and demoing the worm for 6-8 hours straight, sooner or later it is going to get tangled up, wear out, or you will reach for something when you shouldn't, etc.

Some shows I have gotten through on just 2 worms, others I may need half a dozen or more. I have better luck at inside shows, where there's no wind and it's not hot (moist hands create friction and drag). I did six hours at a flea today and went through three worms --- not too shabby. Once you get the knack of working with IT, you should be able to tie a worm in 2-3 minutes, so we're not talking about a big investment of time here.

Even though it's sometimes a pain in the neck to use IT, I feel the benefits definitely outweigh the extra work. With a 2-foot wide pitch table, the specs cannot see a thing, and if you work your lighting well, there won't be any reflections off the IT either. I have found the Kevlar IT to be the most durable and useful, even if it is very slightly shinier than regular IT. It's about 20% stronger than plain nylon and thus well worth it for worm workers, in my experience.

Like Don says, get a $3 plastic fishing tackle box at KMart and pre-tie 6 or 8 worms, so you will be set for whatever happens. I use a paper clip for the anchor to my shirt, and I store the worms in the compartments clip first, then the IT, then the worm on top. This helps to prevent the IT from getting tangled in the worm, or in another worm's IT. SETH
Message: Posted by: sethb (Nov 1, 2009 11:57AM)
[quote] On 2009-10-30 Jestnjoker wrote: I am correct to assume that the Loftus SV-0001 Svengali Deck is a viable "worker?" Or do I need to pick up a different deck to sell these ones? [/quote]
I was confused when I read this, because I always thought a "worker" was carny slang for a trick that is different or set up differently than what is being sold. For example, a Squirmle tied with IT is a "worker," because it is not the same setup used in the packaged Squirmles. And if you were using a Bicycle Svengali Deck as a demo to sell those cheesy Chinese knockoff Svengali Decks (sold as "1847 Decks"), that would be a worker, too.

But if you are demoing the same thing you're selling, that's not a worker, at least as far as I understand the term. Don, can you chime in on this? SETH

P.S. Although I don't generally support using "workers," I have no problem demoing the Squirmle with IT. That's because in the instruction sheet I give out, I explain that "the gimmick supplied with the worm is mostly just for practice. Once you understand the handling and get the hang of doing the moves, you can replace it with a very fine black thread if you like." But I would guess that most kids are satisfied with the original gimmick anyway, and never bother to change it anyhow. SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Nov 1, 2009 12:40PM)
That is what I was asking Seth. I wasn't sure if the decks held up under the rigors of pitching. I wanted to know if it was a worker or if I needed to use another deck that would perform/hold-up better.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Nov 1, 2009 02:55PM)
OK, I see we are talking about the same thing, it's not a big deal.

But to me, if you are demoing and selling the same deck, there's no "worker." The "worker" would be the other deck you describe that "would hold up better." Maybe I'm confused! SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Nov 1, 2009 03:52PM)
I get what you are saying. A clearer question perhaps would have been, "Can I pitch with the same deck I am selling or will I need to use a worker?"
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Nov 1, 2009 04:08PM)
Years ago when pitchman would order kitchen gadgets like choppers or slicers etc. the first thing you would ask the wholesaler was "Are they workers" The wholesaler would always say "They are all workers" Meanning they were all good stock and you could do the pitch with any of the stock you ordered.

When the stock would get to the spot,fair etc.and the pitchman open the box there would be a bag on top of the stock with several in the bag.Writen on the bag in big letters would say "WORKERS".By than it was too late to send them back because you needed stock to open.

I heard that story so many times...hahaha...

(No Jeff,there won't be a bag on top of your stock,they really are workers)
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Nov 1, 2009 04:35PM)
I guess the wholesalers had the same philosophy as the pitchmen, their "parking lot" was just a little farther away.
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Nov 2, 2009 10:03AM)
I just bought from Loftus. Their price break after 2 gross was nice. Then I went into kid-in-a-candy-store mode and bought various things for my magic show. I then threw in a rubber chicken for good measure.
Message: Posted by: sethb (Nov 2, 2009 11:35AM)
I think you will be happy with the Loftus decks -- and so will your customers. If you return to the same spots year after year, I think it's important to sell something half decent, and not a piece of crap. For $5-10, nobody is buying something that will last forever, but it should certainly last beyond the parking lot (apologies to Don on this one!).

I demo the Royal Magic decks (FUN, Inc.) and find that they will hold up for about 5-6 shows (if it's not too hot or damp), which is pretty good. From what I have seen, the Loftus decks are on a par with the FUN decks, and the price is better, too. I would get the Loftus decks myself, but I generally only buy about 4-6 dozen at a clip and I think the minimum for Loftus is a gross.

Good luck to you, Jeff, and let us know how it goes; here's hoping that it rains "Franklins and Jacksons" on your pitch table!! SETH
Message: Posted by: Jestnjoker (Nov 2, 2009 03:51PM)
Yeah, the prices were pretty comparable till the 2 gross break. I'm ok with sitting on some inventory while I get my feet wet.

Thanks for the well wishes.
Message: Posted by: Jon-O the Great (Nov 6, 2009 11:23AM)
I've tried Adams and Loftus. Adams is thinner cardboard than Loftus and (for me) hard to use. And they cost about the same as Loftus. Problem is, Loftus isn't always in stock. Which is why I used Adams once. I was very happy to get rid of THAT gross.

I can use the Loftus deck for several shows (depends on inside or outside) AND I've found that I can put the dirty ones away (I have about 2 dozen now), take 'em out in a month or so and use 'em again for a while. I guess the sweat evaporated. Still kinda grungy-looking on the edges, tho.

In TCM cards, I've found you get what you pay for. The Zodiacs are "sellers" (and only $1 a deck) but the ones from HH of C (Ask Don) are "Workers", but cost, I think, $5 per hundred. Much better than the Zodiac. I can usually only use the Zodiacs for, maybe 4-5 demos before the friction takes over. The others will usually last at least one whole show. Dunno what the dif is but there is one.