I was out shortly after sunrise on a day when the air was partially liquid. You couldn’t exactly say it was raining, but water dripped from everything.
I had been working in the Menomonee River Valley on a series of photos of the Marquette interchange, which I will post soon.
I wound up at Miller Park, and saw the signs. “CAR SALE”.
I arrived about an hour before it started. There were a few “lookers” – Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros and a smart car - parked up front, but even from a distance, I could see that these were just not very interesting vehicles. I was immediately approached by a salesman. Taking advantage, I asked him if they had any coffee in the tent. He happily invited me in, and I gratefully drew a short cup of coffee, my first of the morning.
About 25 salesmen were milling around inside the tent, looking limp from the dampness. The man in charge called the morning meeting. I decided to stay.
“Good morning! Don’t worry. None of you are sweet enough to melt!”
He introduced the sales managers from the several dealerships that were participating, pointed out the key board, and proceeded to read the rules of the event.
“There are no splits here, there are no splits here, and there are no splits here.”
“There are no splits here.” “If you drop your customer, you lose them.”
“There will be a Greeter stationed at the tent door who will ask for their first name, zip code and how they found out about the sale. From then on, it’s up to you.”
“You must accompany on every test drive. Put the car back where you got it. Do NOT park them up here near the tent. Return the keys to the board. Keys are either in your hand, in your pocket or in the ignition. DO NOT lay keys on the desks. We do not want to waste time running around looking for keys!”
“We have a $3,200 Push, Pull or Drag on trade-ins, and we’re matching cash down up to $1,500. They have to put down 15 to get the 15. If they put down 5, we match 5. There’s a $200 coupon on the Internet. Don’t tell them about the coupon if they don’t know about it.”
“There are “star cars” here. One, two, three, up to six stars. Each star is worth $50. If you deliver a six star car that’s $300.”
“Do not negotiate or make any promises without consulting with a manager. We do not want someone coming in to the store on Tuesday morning saying that the salesman said they would put four new tires on the car. Just bring them into the managers. They will make the delivery.”
“All right, let’s get out there and have some fun!”
A small cheer went up. It was from the crowd at nearby Helfaer Field, a Little League park that occupies the site where the old County Stadium once stood.
Of course there were no customers yet, and on a wet Wednesday morning, it was likely to be a while before any showed, so most of the salesmen began to gather in small groups near the tent where they talked about golf, cars and golf umbrellas.
A few began to walk the lines of vehicles, making a mental inventory. Opening doors, reading stickers, getting wet.
Eventually, prospects began to trickle in, most slipping in gaps in the snow-fencing around the lot rather than entering through the tent, apparently attempting to avoid detection by the salesmen.
The men got to work, attaching themselves to every person as soon as they appeared on the lot. As they will for the next four days of the “Thriller at Miller”.
I hope the weather gets better.
All words and images copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2009