Two shoe salespeople were sent to Africa to open up new markets. Three
days after arriving, one salesperson called the office and said, "I'm
returning on the next flight. Can't sell shoes here. Everybody goes
At the same time the other salesperson sent an email to the factory,
telling "The prospects are unlimited. Nobody wears shoes here!"
Yep, mahogany. That's the secret to selling most anything.
When the new world opened up, one of the most prized, and because of
the shipping costs - most expensive, things brought back was this
wonderful new wood from the Caribbean. Royalty of course got first
dibs. Then the nobility wanted it badly, and had the money to pay for
it, and the desire for it trickled down from there. The rest is Louis
Anybody selling shoes in Africa would be wise to make a huge fuss
about presenting some dandy shoes to the tribe leaders (remember to
make them comfortable shoes or it's off with your head!), and limit
supply for a while until the demand builds.
O. Henry, in "Cabbages & Kings" tells the story of a man from Alabama
who sells out and puts all his money in shoes and goes to central
america to open a shoe store. After selling about 12 pairs to
expatriates he was very discouraged. A friend ordered 500 pounds of
cocklebur's from the states. He secretly goes out at night and
broadcasts them all over the little town. Shoe sales skyrocketed.
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