Adventures in Marketing: Week 298

I’ve picked up a few new “Friends” who may need grounding. So, every morning, I sit in a café with a selection of my books and a “Buy Bob’s Books” sign. I keep a record of my sales and of interactions of significance with the public. Then I write about them.
Like this.

One sale.
An I Will Keep You Alive went to a fellow, via my web site, with whom I’ve been corresponding since he began commenting on pieces of mine at First of the Month. I think it’s his third book.
Café business has been slow. Covid. Cold weather. University on vacation. (One business that’s booming is the tattoo/piercing parlor on Telegraph, across from Moe’s. We were up there, trading in books at Moe’s, and it must have had 40 young people lined-up outside. Ben & Jerry’s did about that when it was giving out free ice cream.) But I had a couple conversations stood out, and some readers enjoy those more than my business ups and downs.
The first was with “Albert.” It didn’t really come about because of my books. We’d already introduced ourselves some weeks before when I’d passed along a Chronicle I was done with. Albert is about 60, white-beard, well-groomed and well-spoken for a guy with most of his belongings strapped to a grocery cart. But on this morning, he was dripping wet, and I asked how he was doing. “Not so well,” he said.
“You sleep outside?” I said.
“Not always, I stayed inside libraries for about 20 years, until the university shut them down. Now they’re closed. Cafes are closed. And last week, somebody stole my cart.”
“Jesus,” I said. I had a $20 I planned to give another fellow and I offered it to him.
“Oh, no.” He waved it away with a smile. “I get a pension, $950 every month. I’m fine.”
There’s more to his story, I figure.

The other conversation was a couple days later.
“Cleve” was a big, blonde surfer from Santa Monica, now living in Indonesia. An illustrator, pen-and-ink from what he showed me, he had been drawn to my table by my sign (art by J.T. Dockery). He knew Rick Griffin’s work (“Rad”), and Robert Williams’s (“The master”), and Crumb (“The greatest.”). He didn’t know Wilson, and when I showed him my Checkered Demon sign, he marveled at the easy flow of the line. “Like graffitti art,” he said.. Then I brought Vaughn Bode into the conversation. He said he would check him out and I said I would check out Craig Stecyk, whom he recommended.
Then he became the 122nd person in a row who took my card and said he’d be in touch and wasn’t.