Some people could sell a sugar cube to an engorged honeybee in a honey bound hive–their salesmanship abilities are that good. Others of us struggle with selling.
I remember the first time I ever sold anything at the farmers’ market. In eastern NC, where I grew up, collards were big business. It seemed like every small town had a collard peddler, who before Thanksgiving and New Years would park at a gas station with a truckbed overflowing with freshly-cut collard heads. There, in the parking lot, the collard king would hold court, a big folded up wad of cash in his hand as he bestowed the honor of buying his freshly cut collards on his followers. And followers he had. There would be a genuine traffic jam in the parking lot from people clamoring to fork over cash to the collard king.
Thus, I aspired to be–only I aspired to be a collard king in western NC, where I settled once I got married. I grew a quarter-acre collard patch, tended them with gentle loving care to maturity, then spent a Friday evening picking my first batch to take to the farmers’ market. Nobody was selling collards at the farmers market, and thought I could establish a niche. I had also done my salesmanship research and read that produced piled high draws people’s attention. The saying was, “pile it high and watch it fly,” a metaphor meaning people would surely buy my collards so fast they would fly off the table. But the only thing that flew were my collards, literally, as they parachuted down due to periodic wind gusts. It was a chilly, windy November morning, and in the excitement to get to the market that morning I had forgotten my coat. I froze for five hours, made 30 dollars, and returned home with a pickup full of collards to give away to neighbors. One neighbor said, “We never ate many collards growing up around here. Seems like most folks here ate turnip greens.”
And that’s the problem with farming. You can grow the world’s most beautiful collard greens, but if you live in an area where people eat turnip greens, good luck.