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Reflections

Watermelons Teach Basic Sales Lesson

By Charles Cooper


Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  
Since I’m one of those readers that hasn’t been getting my paper on time, I just learned of the death  of Mike Crews. My condolences to the family. We lived across from them when Mike was only a toddler. His dad, Vernon Crews, was in the process of building the house that lasted until it was destroyed in the 1984 tornado. In those days the Boyd and Lafayette Street folks were like one big family, visiting in each other’s homes and looking out for each other.
Mike’s grandfathers were Mr. Will Crews, who ran a North Central store for years; and Guy Baddley, who worked as custodian at the high school. He was a loved figure with the students and literally died on the job one day.  
Mike’s dad, Vernon Crews, was a skilled home builder until he was disabled with a respiratory disease that made him an invalid for the rest of his life.  
Mike’s mother, Frances Baddley Crews and my mother were first cousins and after Vernon became disabled, she became a working  mom at Rice-Stix, later Big Yank, until her retirement.  
Mr. Will Crews was strong on family ties and  not only provided oxygen  for Vernon, but also gave Pat and Sylvia part-time jobs at his store. I think that family is a classic example of the American work ethic that overcame adversity and  and built this country. I’m proud to be related to them.  
By the time you read this edition, we’ll be two weeks away from the Watermelon Carnival. This year, instead of writing the story of it’s beginning, I’d like to focus on personal aspects that were crucial to its success.  At the corner of Third Street and Crump Boulevard in Memphis is a vacant lot that over the years has hosted farmers  with a truck and trailer full of watermelons.  
We’ve bought from them each year and they are some of the best, even if they’re from southern Missouri and not from Water Valley. As I shelled out eight dollars for a beautiful melon, which turned out to be delicious as usual, it brought back memories of going with Papa Badley as a 10-year old kid on selling trips.
As I recall, we got 50 cents for an average melon and seventy-five cents for the bigger ones. Papa never sat up at Railroad park, but preferred to go where the consumers were, door to door. I went with him on the first calls and then begged to go on my own. Little did I realize this was the beginning of a lifetime sales career. One lady made the mistake of telling me she would take one to help me out. Being a cocky ten year old I said, “You’re helping yourself out because you’re going to  eat this watermelon.” She still bought the watermelon. Little did I realize that I had just learned the basic rule of sales, always control the interview,  but not  quite like a smart-mouth ten year old.
I never told anyone about that but Papa soon let me make all the house calls and our sales were always good.  
Next week I plan to cover other aspects of the watermelon season and I hope you enjoy them. My email address is cncooper1@hot mail.com or write me at P,O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and your input is always welcome.  
Have a great week and I hope to see many of you at Watermelon Carnival.

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