Each year for work I attend a couple of the Mother Earth News Fairs. If you’re unfamiliar, Mother Earth News is a 40+ year old magazine covering how to live a sustainable, eco-friendly, back-to-the-land, healthy lifestyle. The fairs feature dozens of exhibitors ranging from healthy organic food companies to tool manufacturers to book publishers.
My favorite exhibitors are anyone who is a great pitchman. Yes, just like the guys on late night infomercials, they’re the direct descendants of those state fair guys and Ron Popeil. Fast talking, hokey, funny and charismatic. The ones at the Mother Earth News Fairs aren’t too far removed from those guys, especially the ones hawking cooking ware.
There’s always a knife guy or the no-stick frying pan guy. I love watching them because it’s a performance. They’ve got a script, they hit the high points, keep the audience and cook, too.
Doing this at these shows is not easy work! Over a weekend, they might do seven or eight or more demos each day. They’ve got to get people to their booth before the demo and hopefully convert the spectators to buyers. Each time they do their demo they have to be enthusiastic and not sound like their going thru the motions.
My favorite of late is the Suhi Maker guy. The Sushi Maker is a horizontal plastic box where you pack your rice and other ingredients inside and compact it down with the top. There’s slots on the side where you slide your knife in and out and voila! Perfect sushi! (a patent – pending version of the knife the guy invented is also available). I was mesmerized as he said now sushi at home can cost as little as 50 cents! What I love is that he wasn’t Japanese and he kind of had the demeanor of a hack nightclub comic. The family watching was mesmerized, too. The dad was stone faced and would not crack anything close to a smile, no matter how many jokes and a puns Sushi Guy threw is way.
Got to give it up for these pitch folks. They’re triple threats – entrepreneurs, sales people and performers.
And I came real close to buying the Sushi Maker.