Friday, November 04, 2011

You only have three seconds

In my continuing occasional series about entrepreneurs, I present this gentleman, a shoeshine guy at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 47th Street in New York City.  Street vendors often engage in hawking to attract business, but this fellow is a master.  As people walk by, he turns from the current customer's job, makes eye contract, and offers a pithy phrase that is meant to draw business.

"When are you going to do something about those shoes?

"Don't you love her?  What about those shoes?"

"Are you selfish?  Think of those shoes."

When I remarked on how effectively he segmented the market, (i.e., how well he seemed to understand what would work with different folks) he said, "You only have three seconds to make a connection."

It worked on me.  As I walked by, all he did was to shake his head from side to side and say, mournfully, "Those shoes . . . ."


76 Degrees in San Diego said...

The eye contact, smile, and humor is a refreshing reminder of our shared humanity.

Wendy said...

You should also check out the shoe-shine guys in the St. Louis airport sometime -- they're fabulous!

George said...

Thanks for this piece. I'll be on the look-out for him in my scruffiest shoes the next time I'm in NYC.

Tory Wolff said...

Paul -- Completely agree. I met him this weekend. I was with my two boys and he shouted out "look at those shoes! You got to set an EXAMPLE!" He did mine and those of my boys (and won a bet one boy offered that he wouldn't succeed in making them look like knew). It was great to see someone turn a job into a craft and be able to watch a craftsman at work.

Brian Gardam said...

The same guy said to me as I walked by: "This isn't Pittsburgh. You are in NEW YORK CITY!"

Paul Levy said...

Love it!