Thursday, 12 January 2012

Too many irons, or not enough fire.

Sometimes I overload with activities. I have too many things on the go and too many deadlines to meet so I should not be embarking on something new. Can't help it, I just have no control when I get interested.

I saw a part time job today as a buyer of tat for a local shop. You know, the person who actually chooses the meaningless and pointless impulse-buy trinkets that fill the side shelves of newsagents and garden centres. It had never occurred to me before, but it must be someone's job to decide what goes on the tat-shelves and they must know where it all comes from.

Now, as a frequent buyer of useless crap myself, I was intrigued by this. A job was vacant and it was a job I didn't even know existed. I won't get that job, I have no sales experience and if I showed the results of my somewhat dreadful attempts at marketing books, they'd laugh. Even so, I have absolutely no idea where those trinkets come from, and I have to know. So I'll apply and hopefully get as far as interviewing them about this mysterious and shadowy position of Head of Useless Stuff, and maybe find out how they persuade us to buy stuff nobody, anywhere, has ever even imagined they needed and which could only have been created by a madman.

It's dangerous, I might find the source of the tat and that is not safe for someone like me to know. Then again, I have always wanted to know who actually makes those musician figures out of welded nuts and bolts, those glass animals, the wooden things that I can't quite identify and all the rest of it. I would also like to know how they go about selling that stuff to the Head Of Pointlessness and how he/she manages to con saps like me into handing over money for it.

As part of this new book-writing business I must learn about marketing and if someone can sell a wine-bottle-holder that appears to have been roughly slapped together by a bored scrapyard worker after some serious drinking, then they must be great at marketing. I must meet these people.

I just hope they don't sell me anything.

I wonder if they'd be interested in stocking books by a local author on the tat-shelves? That would actually be a better outcome than getting the job.


Rob F said...

In the newsagents I regularly stop by at on the way to work, they have um...'smoking paraphenalia' in the front window and Manchester City keyrings near the checkout (which I can understand, as I work in Manchester!), but also SA80 airgun replicas and Justin Bieber posters.

Who said "Hey, Tutzy (free advertising for them there), don't you think we should clear some space for some air rifles just in case someone comes in for some M&Ms and then decides that they'd also like to buy a fake SA80"?

How do they come to these decisions?  It boggles the mind....

Legiron said...

I had honestly never thought about it before but apparently someone is paid to make those decisions!

mrs.raft said...

A friend does that job for a small tourist attraction/museum.  Every now and then someone gets uppity about the grade of the goods they sell in the inevitable gift shop.  Posh stuff round the shelves, fridge magnets in the middle.

She says that it is the fridge magnets/pencils/badged biscuits and chocolate that are the profitable items because every child through the door has £1 spending money and wants something to remember the visit.  A key ring, a booklet, a badged pen - anything like that, but you have to aim for 99p because that's what they have been given to spend. 

The best one I ever got was for little girls - a paper fan and a sheet explaining how to do the Victorian "language of the fan".  For £2 each it kept them busy flapping at each other for hours. The 99p plastic binoculars for staring a church ceilings was also pretty good.

And yes, the local author books always go well.  The late J L Carr was the author, printer and distributor of those little books which sit by the till.  They are sold by his estate - The Quince Tree Press - to this day and always feature in promotional and giftware catalogues.

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