Wined and Dined

Saturday and Sunday past I spent four hours each day manning a mostly-invisible table that did not provide food or drink for a population of folk who surged into the winery reception room when the doors officially opened at noon armed for both and nothing else. Armed: verb intended–they didn’t have a free hand to carry a book if they’d wanted to. Even so, some books sold, several good contacts made who invited me to speak to their women’s/rotary/book club in Stuart/Danville/Raleigh et cetera. And I learned a thing or two between day one and day two about the dynamics of working with this particular setting and crowd; each of these various events I’ve been involved with since the book came along are classrooms, and I pick up pointers that I hope make me more effective in getting the word across effectively.

Saturday mistakes: no name tag. Table information too detailed and busy. Table display did not immediately link me to Floyd County. Vendor sat or stood directly behind table, intimidating some would-be customers. Nothing offered to draw people to the table, even though hundreds streamed past in line for the white wine table.

Sunday corrections: Name tag. Oh, you’re Fred First! Simplified table display, simply the poster with book title, County of origin and “memoir of place” with my picture and name. I stood back-left of the table or fully away from it, and only approached if someone picked up the book, a sample note card or a bookmark. “So are you a reader? or “Did you find one you like?” if they picked up a card. AND, due to a little problem with the packaging of the first set of 150 packs of note cards, I ended up with some free copies, so (aha moment!) I offered a free sample with envelope–a winning idea! Four times more people stopped than Saturday, and I was engaged in conversation for most of the four hours.

The cards were appreciated. Several folks asked if they were paintings or photos (which I took as a compliment.) Others asked if there were any snow pictures; or dogs; or nature close-ups. So of course, that makes me think of future projects. A couple of realtors and also some B&B folks were interested in bulk orders to use in correspondence with clients to the area. Great idea, I thought!

I go back again this coming weekend, and the old dog has learned a few tricks.

The note cards, by the way, are nicely repacked and ready for shipping. See sidebar info. Order today!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Congratulations on your successful and educational weekend. I am really envious of what you’ve been able to do. I’m glad it is working out for you and putting another spark in your obviously fulfilling life.