Trade show, spring 2009: Memorable customers

When you spend 10 hours a day watching, listening to, and talking to, people of all different stripes, you get some pretty memorable encounters. While at a trade show this spring, we had the pleasure of meeting some fabulous new customers, as well as reuniting with some repeat customers who now seem like old friends. There are too many to mention completely, but I’m making a special note of the following people who made my show experience memorable for different reasons:

1- Sharon, a double-sling owner, who was so kind as to bring me a yummy gift from one of the booths that was selling deliciousness. (Thanks, Sharon!) Through three shows, I’ve watched Sharon go from being 8 months pregnant, to mother of an infant, to mother of a now-one-year-old. It’s being able to witness the growth of a customer’s happy child that makes my job great.

2- The nice young man whom I call “Dragon Dude”—besides my husband, he is the coolest slinging dad I know, and it began before he even became a dad! Last year, he came into my booth, asked what these things were for, and caught his eye on the “Dragon” brocade. He promptly snatched it from the hanger and declared, “Oh cool, this is the one I’m buying. Wrap it up!” Not being used to such a quick, easy sale to new parents-to-be, I said, “Would you like to see a demo first, to see how it works?” He replied, “Nah, I just love the looks of it. I can figure out how it works later.” And here he was this year, proudly wearing his new daughter in the sling, and coming back to look for a soft change mat in “Dragon”, to match his sling. Slinging dads like him really make my day.

3- The young “starving student” mom who picked up an EcoLogic cotton sling for her soon-to-be born child, and who was interested in learning about many aspects of natural parenting, including elimination communication and bedsharing. I love it when young parents have their mind open to all kinds of natural, and non-mainstream, parenting choices.

4- Finally, the lovely older woman who was shopping for a baby gift for several granddaughters and grandnieces. She stopped by our booth, took a look at the wide selection of fabrics (declared “gorgeous” and “so many choices!”), had a chat with me about how these slings were different from the competitor’s, and then promptly and calmly ripped up the business card of the competitor, saying, “Well, I guess I won’t be needing this now!” That totally made my entire week.

On the other hand, there was one woman who stood out for a negative reason. From time to time, you still hear one of these people who wrinkle their nose up at the sling and declare that it’s totally unsafe and irresponsible to put one’s baby into such a contraption. In this case, it was an older woman who looked like she was in her 60s. When her friend touched the sling on display, and said, “Look at that,”, this other woman declared loudly, “I wouldn’t put a baby into one of those things; they’re so unsafe! The baby’s going to fall out!” Now, if you’re going to walk by my product and make such a statement, you’re asking to be challenged. So I looked up, and said in a cheerful voice, “Oh they’re perfectly safe, as long as you’re using them properly. Just like sitting in a hammock.” Well, didn’t she shoot me the meanest glare, and walk quickly away without a word! I actually enjoy it more when someone like that stays for an extra 10 seconds and has a short dialogue with me, even if they don’t agree with what I say, or never had any intention of buying one. Even if she didn’t want to be educated on the product, it would have been nice if she had stayed and listened to another view besides her own. But walking away quickly with a glare, and without a word, to me shows someone who can’t take the challenge of being challenged. Those customers, I wish would walk right on by without a word in the first place.