Officially the grounds opened to the public at 10, but everybody told me not to expect many customers until 12 when the carnival opened, and most people don’t come on Fridays until they get out of work at 5. That hundred dollar break-even point was worrying me, so I smiled brightly at the five or six people who passed my tent that morning and inviting them in for a massage, and they all said no thanks. Jerry had told me that she had charged $10 for fifteen minutes and never had a problem getting paying customers, but judging from the snort I kept getting when I told people my price, they thought $10 was way too much money to spend on a massage.
Since I wasn’t making any money anyway, I spent quite a lot of the day visiting my new friends and asking if they had any advice. It was Shawn who suggested offering a free one minute massage so people could judge my work, and that did get several people to stop. But they all said the same thing; “Man, did that feel good, but now I don’t need a massage,” and they would walk off to buy a t-shirt. It took about three times before I got it, and the next one got one hard squeeze on the top of each shoulder. It was just enough to start relieving their muscle pains, but left them wanting more, and my success rate jumped to about fifty percent.
Sander gave me another good clue. He said that this was a little country festival in the middle of nowhere. Most local residents didn’t make much money, or have a very exciting life, so this festival was one of the few things they splurged on during the year. They spent their money taking their kids to the carnival and buying them elephant ears and candied apples and corn dogs.
When they went through the vendor’s area, they were looking for cheap clothes or Christmas presents, and a lot of people just go through to fill their time, never intending to buy anything. From that perspective, the ten dollars they’d have to pay me for a massage would pay for quite a few carnival games, where they had a chance to win a giant purple bunny. I took his hint, and decided I’d rather make five dollars, than none.
Lots Of Peanut Butter Starts Tomorrow