I’ve been meaning to write a blog post this past week, but wanted to wait till the hype of the event had past for retrospect.
So last week/weekend, for any UK resident or temporary resident was the Queen’s Jubilee. A event which although i’m barely monarchistic, but born in the UK, was a festive enough occasion to reflect on the royal family, engage in many things British or just plain take advantage of the extra two days granted to the nation as bank holidays.
For London it was the premier event for the city, and one that would see many people align the river banks of the Thames, in hope of a glimpse of the queen, amongst the million strong crowd and endless union jacks. As i said, the monarchy mean little to me, other than the heads of the commonwealth and what history has presented through them, but like many i could not complain for an extra two days bank holiday.
One thing did matter that weekend though.
Few events encourage such a frenetic energy in the UK, collectively as do royal sightings and this was of no exception.
A very good friend of mine, of whom is a qualified electrician and earning a handsome salary, suggested the idea, in a mid afternoon conversation two days before the jubilee parade, that him and I should, take the events-bull by the proverbial horns and have t-shirts made to sell to the public on the Sunday afternoon. I had no reason talk myself out of it. I had nothing else to do that weekend, we had access to a printing facility and it would be an excellent first taste of street selling. When ever i’d gone to a big enough event in London (usually non-royalty), I’d seen people selling memorabilia. This would be no different except for the masses of people on the thames of that particular weekend.
I jumped in an sourced some T-shirts from a supplier in the West of London, made a collection order and within 90 minutes had a box of 60 T-shirts in my hands. My friend that evening, picked up the raw tees from me and headed to the press to have these supposedly winning souvenirs made.
I had little to no idea what he would make, as all we had discussed was a basic idea of a souvenir tee, possible illustrations to suit the occasion and what we may not sell them for.
Twenty-four hours later, i received an MMS from my partner of a t-shirt. They we excellent, and from what little we discussed i knew we onto a winner. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t know my friend had such brilliant skills.
My friend arrived early on Sunday morning with half the batch of t-shirts (as we had ran out of printing film at production), which we bagged with 500 clear bags i bought from a packaging company and we headed down to the pandemonium of the Thames.
If we about to learn lessons it began from the moment we boarded the underground. People looked at the T-shirts we were wearing, asked us where we bought them, said they were “cool” and when we had said what the purpose of our wearing them was, one lady said, “your going to do well”. As we disembarked the tube, and headed on the embankment, fear and nerves began to set in. Many people we already donning outfits for the occasion, thousands waving flags, touts selling flags, souvenir stores selling, well, souvenirs but none selling T-shirts. Or at least exclusively.
We had no street trade license, no stall, no professional outfit. But what we did have was guts.
We initially set up in the middle of all the footfall, only to be moved on by officials. We walked further down the wide and human filled street, almost intimidated by the atmosphere and chaos of it all, until we came to an off road where the people only seemed to be coming down in one direction. There was no competition, but hundreds of people poured down the street like ice cream down a child’s hand. We took out all of our t-shirt prepackaged in clear plastic bags and lay them down with what neatness we could.
WE THEN PROCEEDED TO HOLLER FOR ATTENTION.
1. Price, we learned, is almost at the discernment of the customer. (Particularly when you are a nobody) We came down significantly on what we though we were going to sell at. SIGNIFICANTLY.
2. It was drizzling, yet i was shouting, “perfect weather for a T-shirt” and selling. Charisma/ Personality counts.
3. After my first sale, i stopped seeing people. I saw cattle walking down a streets. When you any response from a member of the public is an indicator of interest, perseverance and is the only drug you are running on.
We sold out in 2 hours & 45 minutes.
We were ecstatic. Counting our money in a coffee shop after our feat, and planning to sell the rest two days later in Hyde park for the last quarter of the four day event.
We did again, sell out.