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drwilson
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In my youth, I was #4.

Yours,

Paul
Michael J. Douglas
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This reminds me of a soap pitch written up in one of the earlier Tarbells.
Show the crowd a five in a bar of soap, throw it on the rest of the pile explaining there were more. However, this was a swindle, and no money was ever found. Smile
Michael J.
�Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.� --from Shakespeare�s �As You Like It�
drwilson
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Michael,

The soap pitch is a classic! Soapy Smith made a career out of this swindle. The difference with the prize candy is that if you work out the numbers (one bag in 25 has $5), you can really land a five in the hands of a real person. If we were using shills, we could hand out twenties or fifties, but that would be "working strong," and we wanted to be invited back to the event!

Yours,

Paul
KN_Magic
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Great pitch Todd and it's good to see Paul making some money out of this stuff too.

A few questions if you don't mind:
1)Could someone clarify what a jam auction is for me (is it similar to a run out auction in the UK, where people comeaway with boxes full of tat, thinking they've got a bargain?)
2)Paul, when you're putting prizes in bags, it's a numbers game, what sort of percantage do you aim for? (e.g. bags cost $3 to buy, £1.20 to make and 80c average prize, gives $1profit per bag). BTW/reading Todds pitch, you'd think that you'd always get more than you paid for.
3)Does anyone know of a wholesaler for goods to pitch (be it Svengalis or fortunetelling fish etc.)

There's a fad in the UK amongst the kids called Scoubido-ing. Essentially it's french knitting using thin plastic thread (http://www.scoubidou.co.uk/). If I were geared up for that sort of thing, I could make a killing, making up packs of them and selling them at markets and fairs. Keep an eye out in case it crosses the atlantic.

Kevin.
My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light!
Edna St. Vincent Millay
drwilson
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Kevin,

A run out auction sounds like the American jam auction. Todd was emailing out a terrific script a while ago if you requested one. Here's the jam auction thread.

We were getting about 100% return on the bags. Candy was $1.20, cash prizes averaged about $0.40/bag (1 bag in 25 has $5, 10 bags in 25 have half dollars). The rest of the prizes were free to us (discount coupons) or worth about $0.05 (Fortune Telling Fish). Notice that we don't put the Fortune Telling Fish in the bag; they have to go up to the Gypsy Fortune Teller and redeem their prize ticket, giving us a chance to pitch the Magic Dreamstone. Considering that kids spent the money prizes at our booth, return was better than 100%.

I knew that there wouldn't be huge crowds at this event. When we do this again, I'll look to spend less on the candy by shopping at a big-box discount store for it. If there were going to be more people for any given prize candy pitch, we could probably give out less money. That's the real science! In Las Vegas, the people who program slot machines know that a dribble of little payouts keeps folks playing until someone hits a jackpot.

At a ticketed event like Todd describes, an cash hit by an early buyer ought to create a frenzy. You could also have better candy and charge more for the bags at an event like this (Todd doesn't give the numbers in his post).

I don't get slum wholesale, but it is cheap enough that it might as well be. I like US Toy; I don't know who a comparable UK supplier would be. We also make a lot of our pitch items (fortunes, dreamstones, Two Card Monte, Svengalis).

Yours,

Paul
Harley Newman
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I recall one of the old soap pitches, that deserves to be brought up to date.

In the days when wagons were the mode of transport, many medicine pitchmen would take off a wagon wheel, a mile or so out of the town they were about to hit. They'd clean out the grease, and use a bar of soap to lube the axle.

in the middle of their pitch, they'd go over to the wagon, use a white handerchief to wipe "grease" from the wheel hub, and then demo how their miracle soap would make even a greasy handkerchief come clean.

Along with a pitch for tonic: A shill would fill his nose with custard, ahead of the show. During the pitch, he'd be coughing and sneezing, and he'd be asked to take a swig of the miracle medicine. Lo and behold, he'd blow his nose, and there was clear evidence, for all to see, that the medicine worked.

Beautiful!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Michael J. Douglas
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Rotfl - Harley, that's hilarious!! Smile
Michael J.
�Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.� --from Shakespeare�s �As You Like It�
Harley Newman
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Yes. I like the old medicine stuff.

Todd refers to the ability and inclination to stick things up one's nose as "blockhead-itis", which I think is a hoot. But even I stop at custard. Eeeeeauwww.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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poolos
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There was a circus in town last month that sold bags of peanuts like this. For $1 you could buy a bag with the possibility of winning a balloon. Every kid in the place bought at least one. Hell, I bought some for the kids and their mother….ok and one for me too. I wanted that *** balloon.

The circus made a killing!
drwilson
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The numbers would be way better with peanuts and balloons. A bag of peanuts probably doesn't cost them more than $0.25, and the balloons don't cost much either. But then, they pay the help...

I was aiming at a perceived value of the candy better than what you get at the concession stand in a movie theater.

Yours,

Paul
poolos
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I was sold. I wanted one of those *** balloons more than my kids.
Freak Prodigy
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I am new with this concept...could someone please enlighten me? Sounds great!
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KN_Magic
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Todds description of a Jam Auction is exactly the kind of thing I've seen in the UK. Although like Todd I had better sense than to get 'locked in'.

A firend of mine almost got done by one of those cheap holiday scams. He sat through a two hour presentation, was given free drink (to loosen wallets no doubt), and thankfully remained sceptical. When the guy presenting suggested their booking for the conference room had run out and the marks had to leave their cars behind and get in a minibus to the company HQ (i.e. to be held hostage in the 'middle of nowhere'), alarm bells started ringing and he left.

Thanks for the info on percentage returns from 'games' Paul. I hadn't missed the subtlety that you give vouchers for money off your own merchandise.

My wife and I often give homemade sweets etc. for presents and had thought about selling them at markets. The thought of turning them into 'prize candy' is appealing. I haven't worked out if the recipies would be profitable yet, but if anyone's interested PM me and I'll see what I can do.
My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light!
Edna St. Vincent Millay
drwilson
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One caution on Prize Candy. In Texas, a law was passed at the height of the Prize Candy craze at the circus that it was actually a lottery, and hence couldn't be done, or at least was subject to the laws governing lotteries. If you are just giving out toys that all have about the same value, or if the prize isn't worth much (a circus balloon), you'll probably be OK. Check your local laws or wear running shoes and practice your handcuff escape.

Yours,

Paul
ringmaster
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There's a little book with the catchy title," Captain Wm. "Bill" H. Tippitt's recollections piloting the Crown Hill and Showboat Golden Rod : or The reluctant showboater : with some of his other Mississippi River tales," that has a great story abou the candy pitch as it actually worked.
Ricky Jay made the candy pitch a high point of his show and always sold out , working for a YARD.
One of the last living 10-in-one performers. I wanted to be in show business the worst way, and that was it.
rossmacrae
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Quote:
On 2005-08-16 15:30, drwilson wrote:
Here's a site of carny lingo by Wayne N. Keyser:

http://darkepurple.us/karnival/karnie.html



You wanna see the original, often-updated carny lingo list (always something more to learn, so I have to keep it up to date) see
http://www.goodmagic.com/carny

I gave darkepurple permission to use my stuff (in case you're wondering, Wayne Keyser is my birth-certificate name, Ross MacRae is the one I give the police)
drwilson
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Here's an update on my Prize Candy activities.

First off, after thinking about how to make the bags more colorful, it finally occurred to me to use clear bags! OK, how much of an insight was that, but I did it the other way a few times before my brain kicked in. I had picked out very colorful, attractive candy, so these look way better. I use ziploc bags that I get very cheap from overseas, these are the same bags that I package slum magic in.

The prize (or a slip of paper indicating what the prize will be) is packed in a #1 coin envelope that everyone can see through the bag. For the prizes at a charity auction last night, I had some business-person items (day planner, calculator, pen set) and also some carnival plush. It's odd seeing a happy customer in their sixties walk around with a plush toy, beaming, all night, but I guess there's a kid in all of us.

At the end of the auction, I announced that we'd do one last thing. I had five bags of Prize Candy on the counter without any envelopes inside. I held up a twenty-dollar bill and told them to come in close. They did! I folded the twenty and sealed it in a coin envelope, then sealed four one-dollar bills in four separate envelopes. I mixed them up and put them in the bags, then asked someone to bid on a bag. I got a five-dollar bid right away, then waited until I had five bidders. I raised the bid to six and they all stayed in. I let people pick their bags, but made them promise not to open the envelopes until they had each picked a bag.

When the last bag was picked, they all tore into them. Four people found a dollar bill, and one person found...an empty envelope! I had to play the part of the smoother to the person with the empty envelope. I told them that now they had a story that they could tell at dinner parites for the next couple of years, and it had only cost them $6. They had a pretty good laugh over it, and of course the folks with the dollar bills, who would have thought of themselves as losers, were now the winners.

Yes, it's the old soap pitch, the game that made Anchorage the town that it was.

Prize Candy is a great way to loosen up the audience if you are ever playing an auctioneer. It gets the money flowing, and people really like winning stuff. For a charity auction, you can do the soap pitch as the closer, because now people are used to the idea of cool stuff in the candy bags. I wouldn't go higher than a twenty with the crowd up here, but in the big city you could use a fifty, and at a black-tie event, maybe a hundred.

Yours,

Paul
Todd Robbins
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Paul,
That's great.

I have done a bit of auctioneering at charity events and it puts to use the skills I have learned talking the front of shows.

I did an event a number of years ago to raise money for scholarships to a very ritzy private school in LA. The room was filled with the wives of show biz industry folk and a number of rock star spouses that had just too much money. There was big time jockeying for status in the room and I made good use of that. One of the wives had recently discovered her hubby was playing around on her. She was getting ready to leave him and wanted to spend as much of his money as possible. Oh, how I helped her with that, and shamed all the other ladies into keeping up with her when she bid big. It was a beautiful night.

Two weeks ago I did another fundraiser event for an organization that trains and provides service dogs for the disabled. There was one item to auction off. It was the honor of naming a puppy that would become a service dog. In the past they had gotten 7 grand for the right to name the cur. I pulled in $100 grand for the organization. I got two heavy hitters to each kick in $50 g to provide one of two names for the dog.

Barnum would have been proud.
thegreatnippulini
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What was the end result of the dog naming? If it's a male, I believe "Mark" or "Rube" would be nice.
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Todd Robbins
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They agreed on one name...Horace!
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