Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Debbie Does Art (Meme of Fame 2nd Installment)

A bubbly 60-something blond woman, quite pretty, a little on the plump side, stood by the gallery door fingering the merchandise with her graceful hands. "Oh, how CUTE!!!"

The little bottle vases hanging on the door were cute indeed, but take it from me: the gushers do not buy. They expend their energy gushing, lead you around the gallery, toying with you, fingering the merchandise, gushing. They gush over your outfit, gush over the art, gush over your perfume. Oh, they might ask if the chairs in the back room are for sale, or the sales desk. (No, I'm not kidding.) They want to know the source of your accent, how long you've lived in Santa Fe, and "Where's a good place to eat around here, one with no tourists?" Then they walk out the door, headed to the next shop. And there you are--penniless, defeated, drained of life, drowned in bullshit.

This particular gusher was accompanied by four teenagers. One extremely good-looking fellow who looked like a very young Robert Downey Jr. One totally likable overweight guy who proclaimed the art in the gallery "awesome" (without gushing). With earnestness he confided he wanted to be an artist. Two gorgeous blondes, one friendly, one dripping with cynicism. The older woman--let's call her Debbie-- announced she wanted to buy a bottle vase for each of the girls. They just had to pick a color. The friendly girl happily chose a magenta. The cynical one frowned and said she didn't want one.

Debbie was becoming less bubbly. She INSISTED the young, cynical blonde choose a color.

"But I don't know what color I want to paint my wall," whined the blonde.

"For cryin' out loud, pick a color and let me buy you a bottle vase. It's not a big deal!" I was beginning to like this Debbie. She was evolving from gusher to customer. She was putting her dainty little foot down with Ms. Cynic. I was totally in her corner now. She was going to make a purchase! Ms Cynic relented and picked a yellow.

While I was totaling up the bottle vases, Debbie began walking around the gallery. She started gushing again, this time over a painting of chickens in a chorus line. " THAT IS SO CUTE. THAT IS SO FUNNY. I JUST LOVE IT."

I hung the painting in the viewing room for Debbie. I talked up the marvelous qualities of the festive headgear of the party girl chickens. Debbie was beside herself. I asked her if she wanted me to wrap the painting for her to take, or would I be shipping it.

"NO. I would hang it in my kitchen and I would never pay that for something to hang in my kitchen." She had gone from gushing to cantankerous in the blink of her big blue eyes.

"Okay," I said. " What would you pay?"

She low-balled me.

I tried to meet her offer at a respectable distance.

She wouldn't budge.

I tried again.

She was unflinching.

I coaxed.

She refused.

I cajoled.

She began walking away.

"Well, I'll think about it," she said, in a huff, swinging her hips, headed towards the door.

I'LL THINK ABOUT IT is the death knell for an art sale. Art purchases come from the heart, not the frontal cortex.

I ran after her.

(This is a trick I learned through the years, a skill I've lovingly honed, a skill to which I attribute my longevity in the business. That trick is: When they're walking away from the deal, run after them, pleading. It is such a tremendous ego boost to certain people. I mean who doesn't enjoy someone running after them, begging? Especially when family members are watching?)

"OKAY. OKAY. You are tough! You are tougher than me! You win! Have your price!" I said.

"She's tough," I reiterated to her youthful entourage. They looked at the floor.

She beamed and handed me her credit card. I have a habit of reading the name of the person on the card. It said Connie Stevens. Yes, the Connie Stevens. That tough kitten had been around the block. Connie signed her Visa receipt with a flourish, said she wanted to return to the hotel but that someone would pick up the painting later. I wrapped it in bubble wrap and printed a bio of the artist. I placed the bio in an envelope with the name CONNIE in large letters, and I embellished it with a big red heart. I wonder if she appreciated my little gesture.

Later that day I entrusted the painting to the Robert Downey Jr. lookalike. He told me he was Connie's nephew and acknowledged it was "pretty cool" to be Connie Stevens' nephew. I acknowledge: It was pretty cool to sell a painting to Connie. I only wish she'd ponied up a bit more.





Connie, circa 1963.














Connie, one tough kitten.















Connie, the businesswoman. She now owns a beauty products company and a spa, and recently directed her first film. She also heads an organization which awards scholarships to young Native Americans. And she will gush whenever and wherever she pleases, thank you.

140 comments:

Hilary said...

Well you described her really well because Connie Stevens is exactly who I pictured after I read the first paragraph.. only older. (She'd have to be at least 70 by now)

I'll bet she gushed over the heart. ;)

San said...

Oh, Hilary, I hope she did!

Kim said...

San, you are my hero and this story is priceless. Ooh, just between you and me, I never did care for that Connie Stevens...

San said...

Kim, we'll keep it our secret.

:)

The Gossamer Woman said...

As a Dutch woman, I'm trying to remember just what Connie Stevens did that made her famous and I can't for the life of me remember. The name rings a bell, but that is about it. Gushy women don't score high with me anyway. They think they're so entitled.

Sparkling Red said...

My goodness, what a striking woman! I wasn't familiar with her before this post, but those photos tell the tale. I love that she bought a painting of dancing chickens. Obviously she has good taste! ;-)

Leslie Avon Miller said...

*Loved* this story!

~Babs said...

I always thought she had the most incredible eyes,,who'd have guessed the guts part? I mean, she always seemed so soft, kitten-ish.
In my mind I can see you running after her,,and I KNEW you had the guts!
I never realized I had guts until I found myself begging Willie Nelson for a hug,,but that's another story,and this one is better anyway.
So fun,,,"see San run".

david mcmahon said...

I remember her!

What a great post, San. I guess you have an honorary degree in psychology, after dealing with all personality types in your gallery.

We have an eight-letter word for people like her, San .....

Tightwad.

SandyCarlson said...

Small crazy world, San! That's amazing. I love your honesty and spirit. And I am glad she had the sense to buy your work.

murat11 said...

Did that feline know just whom she was talking to?

I think not.

I like that you "hid" her under what was clearly a Debbie Reynolds mask, no?

Is that her thigh under that fur?

I think so.

Great story, you sly begga. Bring on 3-7!

Out.

Lori Skoog said...

What a fun post. I used to watch Connie Stevens when she was on tv. Happy to see that you had a minute to communicate with us. I hope the snow has melted and all is well.

Katherine said...

San that is a very funny and very Santa Fe story. Takes all kinds!

Artist Unplugged said...

What a fascinating story......your description was uh, er, priceless, sorry, couldn't resist...oops, sorry again. You held me till the end and way to go on that sale!!! I hope she noticed...

San said...

Gossamer, Connie was what they called a "teen idol." She made some hit records and I believe she also starred in some beach movies. Then she had a regular TV show, etc. A singer and dancer. Pegged as a "sex symbol."

San said...

Spark, the painting suited her to a T.

San said...

Thanks, Leslie!

San said...

Babs, you really must post about your begging Willie Nelson for a hug. I'll run right over to read that!

San said...

David, I have an actual degree in psychology. Magna cum laude as a matter of fact. But my experience selling art is where my true education lies.

Mary Ann Wakeley said...

What an awesome story !! :-)

San said...

Sandy, I wish I could claim that painting as my work. I left the artist's name out because of the circumstance of the low-ball sale, which is pretty unusual. It was a painting we'd had in stock for a while and I knew the artist was ready to sell it, as was the gallery.

San said...

Paschal, you got the Debbie Reynolds mask--I should've known you would. Weren't both Connie and Debbie married to Eddie Fisher? At different times of course. And while we're thickening the plot, Carrie Fisher, daughter of Debbie and Eddie, once walked through the gallery in San Francisco. I wasn't sure it was Carrie, so I said, "I guess everyone tells you you look just like Carrie Fisher." Her reply: "All the time." In an unmistakable Princess Lea voice. With a sly smile.

San said...

Lori, our snow melted in a matter of hours. Sunday, Monday, and today have been true Springtime. Sigh.

San said...

Katherine, it is kind of Santa Fe at that. They don't call it the City Different for nothing.

San said...

Unplugged, I appreciate your "priceless" comment.

I'm glad you liked the story. I enjoy remembering it all.

San said...

Mary Ann, thank you for visiting. What an awesome profile pic!

Carol said...

That was great.

I don't know if I could do the "running after them" bit. You're my hero for that one!

C.M. Jackson said...

San--

I don't know how you do what do...I have watched this dance and have been appalled...but you made the sale..great job and wonderful story!

best
c

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

San, I really thought it was a "tale" until the end.
I guess once a "diva" always a "Diva".
I guess the fact that she thinks it is a waste to spend money on a painting for her KITCHEN probably means she has never been in it.

Maggie May said...

That was a mighty interesting post.
Maybe one of the reasons that I don't have my own art studio is that I could NEVER have pleaded with anyone to buy a painting! (Another is that I don't paint well enough to sell! LOL!)
You meet some interesting famous people!
In the end you have the last laugh! Good for you!
Hadn't realized that not only do you have to be a good painter but that you have to be a hard & canny saleslady as well!

Shrinky said...

Sheesh, you are a better woman than me, Gungadine! It was "only" for her kitchen? Speaks volumes of her values.

May the good Lord preserve us from pushy Dames, eh? I love how you always see the humour of the situation!

Moannie said...

Hello San. I have come to thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment [always a thrill for me] Reading your profie I see that we have a lot in common [except our ages, obviously]. I am a Virgo, had an Art and Antique shop so know all about gushers, and the 'We'll think about it' scenario, though I only bargained down when buying and stuck to my guns when selling-shamelessly using the 'if you can't afford it then why are you asking' look-especially to the gushers.
I hope that someone will be able to put me out of my misery because your story about Connie Stevens has stirred my old memory bank and I wont be able to rest until Iremember the TV show she was in way way back when. I think it was a show about a PI with a guy named Eddie something; he had a quiff and was a bobby soxers delight...it's so frustrating.
I will be back now that I've found you. Love your blog.

Hilary said...

Insomnia + Moannie's question + Google = Hawaiian Eye. I don't always trust my math skills, but my Googlefoo is usually dependable. ;)

self taught artist said...

that is a fantastic story, glad you sold more than a few vases too!

lime said...

you
are
my
hero.

you rock. and that's not me gushing. that's me in awe (i have no sales ability at all)

Celebration of Life said...

San,
You are definitely the "Diva" in this story! Very funny, thank you for sharing!
Jo

andrea said...

Too funny, San. You weave stories like a master. (I have also learned that the online gushers are like the bricks and mortar gushers. :) And celebrity or no, you are a remarkably versatile woman to be able to play both the artist *and* the businesswoman. (A better woam than me, that's for sure!)

Dianne said...

I was thinking Debbie Reynolds until you revealed Connie Stevens!

I usually can't afford anything in an art gallery, I tell the owner I'd like to look but can't afford to buy unless they have something under whatever $$ amount I can afford

most appreciate that

jsd said...

wow - is there a lot of good practical life experience in this post.

San said...

Carol, it's in the job description. All in a day's work.

San said...

C.M., it's only money. You just have to decide how little is too little and mark your boundary, trying not to invest overmuch in the pride quotient. Yes, it can be hard.

San said...

Janette, it's not the first time I've heard the argument "too expensive for the kitchen." I always wonder if they shop for their appliances at the Salvation Army.

San said...

Maggie May, I believe that much success (in any field) is a result of sheer determination and just plain work.

San said...

Shrinky, if I didn't look for the humor in this way of eking out a livelihood, I'd be setting up my easel in a padded cell.

San said...

Moanie, thanks for returning the visit. I am GUSHING with delight over your comment.

Yes, you are right about the Ed (Kooky) Burns connection. "Kooky, Kooky, lend me your comb." 77 Sunset Strip. Sound familiar?

San said...

Yes, Hilary, she was in Hawaiian Eye too.

I hope you had sweet dreams after your late-night googlethon.

San said...

Paula, I was glad about that too!

San said...

Lime, you sell me every time I read your words. You have a way, babe.

San said...

Jo, I must have I have never thought "me" and "diva" in the same moment. Thank you for making my day!

San said...

Andrea, so the "online" gushers are as bad! Horrors!

I'm not that surprised actually. At the gallery we get our share of internet abuse at that.

San said...

Dianne, gallery owners do appreciate that. I would rather have 10 honest, courteous people walking through than one energy-draining pretentious individual any day.

San said...

JS, I'm glad you think so. I do too, but my outlook is a little biased.

:-D

Raven said...

You are such a good story teller. Even from what I remember of Connie Stevens when she was young - this seems exactly how I would have imagined her to be. Glad you made the sale.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Great story!!! What a fun place to do business...in Santa Fe!!! A beautiful place!!! Love it! Thanks for visiting my blog, and for your witty comments...I enjoyed your visit immensely! And now I've had a terrific time at your place...Thanks for leading me here!!!!!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Delightful tale, San! You know, in my youthful dreams I once contemplated owning an art gallery or maybe working in a museum. Part of that was a preference for dealing with beauty rather than people. Sooooo, your story reminds me that even if one is surrounded by beauty one still has to deal with people and even the "beautiful people" can be a pain in the ass.

Alex told me that you had been by my blog before coming to his. Thank you for the comment on the spring pics.

Alex says to tell you "Happiez Earff Day! OK?"

The Things We Carried said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the way you took me through your sale! What a fun read that was, and to have Connie Stevens at the center of it all! Well, I was shocked and delighted for you. She sounds just like I would imagine her to be. I tad spunky, indulged, indulging, but completely lovable in the mix.

I also was amazed to hear you ran after her. Good for you! It made the sell and that is what you are in the business of doing. I would never have guessed it would be such an effective ploy!

San said...

Raven, she was as I'd imagined her to be, especially the bubbly factor. And she is VERY attractive.

San said...

Sniffles and Smiles, we will have to make a habit of these visits!

San said...

Nick, I believe dealing with people--the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful--is a part of almost any job. You've been there for sure.

Thank you for passing along the Earf Day greeting from Alex.

San said...

The Things We Carried, had she not decided to buy, I guess I would have felt a little foolish after the chase. But I've chased down a variety of people. With varying results.

Cestandrea said...

What a story:) Thanks for introducing me to Connie Stevens, well, gush, she is VERY blonde:) And also, thanks for letting us know that running after a "customer" has not necessarily to make us feel bad....

vicki archer said...

Wonderful story - just the right amount of gush! Shall be back for more, xv.

Sarah Lulu said...

The story was gorgeous ....and I have not thought of Connie Stevens for decades! Even in Australia back in the day she was a bit of a star really. I like Carrie Fisher much better.

Merisi said...

Hilarious tale from the sales floor!

I would love to buy all the art works that I like, but don't have the funds to do so. I hesitate to enter some galleries and prefer looking from the outside, knowing full well what gallery owners think of people who only come to look and not buy.
The problem is that sometimes temptation to have a look is too great, and when this happens the gallery owner or sales person who accepts the fact that not every person who enters can make a purchase is very much appreciated.

I once happened to notice some collages by Robert Rauschenberg in a gallery in New York and stood there, mesmerized. The owner came to the door and asked if I would like to see more Rauschenbergs, which he kept in a large chest with many shallow drawers. Even though I explained that I would not be able to purchase, he insisted on showing me his treasures, dozens and dozens of them. I shall never forget the kindness of that gallery owner. I only wished I would have had the three or six thousand Dollars that the lowest prized works were going for back then, alas, I did not.

Andrea said...

Excellent story! I found you via authorblog...and am so glad I did! You have a tremendous gift with words...I'm looking forward to exploring your site further! :)

indicaspecies said...

I loved the part where you described the way you handle prospective customers. Yea, you indeed are a great story teller.

I'll be back for your encounter with another personality.:)

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Oh my gosh! This is hilarious!! Well told.

And congrats on winning Authorblog's post of the day :-)

indicaspecies said...

Oh yea, I got back to congratulate you on winning David's the Post Of The Day...and well deserved.:)

Blue Eyed Tango said...

I just came on over to your blog from the Authorblog. I so appreciate your little story, not because it was Connie Stevens (I'm not easily impressed) but for the mere fact that I have owned an art gallery (murals & hand painted furniture) myself and can really identify with the type of customer you described so well! LOL! Very true!! I'll return! Luanne

San said...

Andrea, I thought you might appreciate the rigors involved in the chase! How nice to see you here again. Thank you for visiting.

San said...

Vicki, I look forward to your return visit. And I want to call on you too.

San said...

Oh, Sarah, I'm glad you visited and enjoyed my story. Don't know if you saw this in another comment, but Carrie Fisher walked through our gallery in San Francisco, years ago, before we relocated to Santa Fe. Small world.

San said...

Merisi, I enjoyed your story of the kind art dealer who insisted he share his treasures with you. Most people are in the art business, which is a demanding one, because the pleasures outweigh the challenges. Usually. Kindred spirits don't always have the money to make an acquisition, but their sincerity is much appreciated.

San said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you found your way over here. Let's stay in touch...

San said...

Celine, you are back! I have to see what gorgeous travel stories await at your place...

San said...

Thank you, JAPRA. I'm glad you wandered over. Love your moniker.

San said...

Thank you for that, Celine!

San said...

Luanne, then you know exactly what I'm talking about! You poor thing. :-D

Thank you for visiting. I've enjoyed it.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Great story. It is something a customer talks about isn't it, having the shop keep run after them to seal a deal. I love the way to tell it from a different point of view.

CJ xx

Cath said...

At last San I have got my lazy (for that read "too busy to sit on") ass over here.

I love how you tell a tale and I was standing there watching it play out in front of me. I admire your courage - running after her. Dunno if I could. What a great gallery owner you are, doing that for your artists and getting the sale!

Off to read the first installment now. And congrats on POTD. As always, so very well deserved...
(You craft words just as well as you do paintings.)

ellen abbott said...

commenter #81...late to the party as usual.

Funny story, you have a new devotee in me.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Perfect! You so deserve POTD!!!! Congrats! ~Janine XO

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Oh, This is rare indeed...you are good...you are very good!!!!
!

Tessa said...

HOOT! A perfectly described picture of Blond Bubbles Gushing Madly...and the denouement is a corker!

I owned a shop back in Uganda where I sold clothes, bags and home furnishings made from the gorgeous, handwoven local cotton...and it was there that I came across many of those gushers!

So pleased to have found you via David. Many congratulations on POTD. Fantastic blog - I'm off to read more!

Cheffie-Mom said...

Great post! Congrats on the Post of the Day Award!

Akelamalu said...

Connie's a cheapskate!

You were too sweet to her m'dear. x

chewy said...

I LOVE THIS STORY!
It would lose all the dramatic quality if you recognized her right from the start.

Anna said...

San I love your story, and I love your sales techniques, lol, you are something else, lol. Excellent 2nd installment of the meme. Anna :)

San said...

Crystal, I haven't seen you in a while. Thank you for visiting!

San said...

Cath, I believe you would be able to run your too-busy-to-sit self after the right opportunity. I'm confident of it!

San said...

Ellen, I'm really pleased you've come to the party. You are welcome any time!

San said...

Janine, thank you for your enthusiasm!

San said...

Mary Ann, you are a rarity. Indeed.

San said...

Tessa, I'm pleased to make the acquaintance of another business owner with the gusher radar.

I'll have to get over to your place...

San said...

Cheffie, it's great having you here. What are you serving?

San said...

Akelamalu, like I said, that "sweetness" is the secret to my longevity in the art business.

San said...

Dar, I believe you're right. And when the incident occurred, it did take me a while to recognize her. At one time I was thinking, 'This is Connie Stevens,' but I wasn't sure until I read her name on the credit card. That was fun.

San said...

Anna, I always enjoy your visits enormously. Especially since you bring Matthew.

murat11 said...

San: I dig your Carrie Fisher story, particularly your sly flush: I'd say it makes for Almost Knew Me #3.

Kirti said...

congrats on post of the day...GREAT story...

Pouty Lips said...

Congrats on Post of the Day from David at authorblog. I can always count on him to point me to the best posts.

Chris said...

Great post! That's really one way to make a sale too! If you've been haggling in China and other countries you'll find that what you did is exactly what the shopkeepers there do. :)

Meg Wolff said...

San,
Pardon my gushing, BUT, you sure can tell a story like no one else I know! I certainly enjoyed this one. :-)

San said...

Paschal, it would make a rather brief #3, but hey, who's counting words?

San said...

Thank you, Kirti. I've enjoyed your visit.

San said...

Well, Pouty Lips, thanks to David for pointing you over here. I hope you'll return.

San said...

Chris, I wonder if I moved the gallery to China if I would suddenly become wealthy. Something to ponder. :-D

San said...

Meg, shucks.

murat11 said...

Quality of the intersect, mija. That was quality...

The Moody Minstrel said...

Connie Stevens...now THERE'S a name I remember from my childhood and haven't heard in a while! What a great story, too!

How many celebrity notches does this put in your belt, San? ;-)

Sandi McBride said...

Ah the indefatigueable Cricket! How I have always loved that little tight wad! Thanks for sharing San...and thanks for all the love and warm wishes you sent my way while I was in Hospital!
hugs
Sandi

Dave King said...

Great story. Great post. Well done.

San said...

Paschal: "Quality is as quality intersects." Who said that?

San said...

Moody, I believe I'm a notch on Connie's belt. Not exactly a celebrity one however.

San said...

Sandi, I'm glad you remember Cricket Blake. And I'm even more glad you're up and about after your hospital stay. Welcome.

San said...

Thanks, Dave. That means a lot to me.

Jameil said...

i have no idea who that is but wow you're amazing for the running after her trick. i have too much of an attitude for that and would probably lose sales repeatedly as a result.

Daryl said...

Oh so cool ...

She was born August 8, 1938, in Brooklyn, New York

Lynette said...

Omigosh, San I was so enthralled with the story, it just totally shocked me when you said the gusher customer was THE famous Connie Stevens! She does have the most beautiful blue eyes. What a great post, I enjoyed every word!

Angel... said...

San, I love the way you describe everytime. It's very wonderful story. I am glad you sold some..Congrats
Love always, and thanks for being here all the time.
Angel

jc said...

Wonderfully written - I REALLY enjoyed that

TheElementary said...

I love your stories. I've missed so much. My life got derailed, but I'm back, and catching up as best I can.
Love this daily dose.

San said...

Jameil, I'm sure you would turn some sales by sheer Attitude.

San said...

Daryl--a lioness from your neck of the woods. How cool is right.

San said...

Lynette, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. "Enthralled." What a great word.

:-D

San said...

Angel, thanks for visiting. I hope you're having a better day today.

San said...

JC, thanks for visiting. I want to visit you too.

San said...

The Elementary, I'm glad you're back on track and blogging. It's great to see you again.

Ro Bruhn said...

What a great story, if you're as rich as Connie you probably don't know where your kitchen is.

Todd said...

Love this story, San!! Hasn't the weather been glorious!!??!!
Paz.
Todd

San said...

Good point, Ro. Good point.

San said...

Todd, it has been perfect, hasn't it?

~Babs said...

Hey San,,,,
If you're there,,,,
I posted for YOU today.
#:-D

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Yeah but if sheez that suksessfol she shud hav paid the reel price an been nicer. That's wat I think, enyway.

:@}

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Great writing, I felt like I was there.

Anna said...

Hi San, just dropping by to say hello! Hope all is well. Anna :)

Lori Skoog said...

Where are you San???? We are out here waiting for more of your unique posts....

Angel... said...

San, I JUST stopped by to say Happy belated Mothers Day.Where are you. We all miss u here.

Angel... said...

Anna, Happy Mothers day dear. Hey how come I can't leave a message on your blog. Please let me know.

sukipoet said...

a great story. I hadnt recalled CS was so lovely.