So when it finally stopped pouring and degraded to a summer shower, the traffic in the neighborhood started to trickle in. My-Sugar-Na and I started parking cars around 2:00 PM (In contrast, by 11:30 AM on the first Saturday in 2007 I already had about half a dozen). We had ran a couple of errands in the early afternoon, and though Mitten did park one car, there really wasn't the crush of traffic that I had expected.
Because it just didn't look busy, My-Sugar-Na decided to start parking cars at $5 instead of the standard $10 on Saturdays. And let me tell you how brilliant that was. It was still raining steadily when we started, which felt great as the temperature and dew points were rising. We had parked 13 cars (our yard capacity) by 3:30 PM. In other words, 90 minutes, out and done. Meanwhile, the neighbors were sticking to their $10 charge and weren't getting very many.
My-Sugar-Na, Gooey (who had been helping) and I went into the nice, cool, air conditioned house while everyone else was sweltering. They were kinda nice about it, though (as opposed to other years when I would chage $3 versus their $5). They suggested that we should have been patient, but we extolled the pleasure of recirculated air.
So about two hours later, two of our cars had left and we went out to fill in the holes. Everyone was still at $10 and were starting to fill up, but the whole situation was quite sluggish. We decided to fill our empty spots at $5, and even at that price it took us another 90 minutes to fill-up.
So as I enter this post around 8:30 PM, I took a quick look out side. I only have two spots that could be filled, and I see lots and lots and lots of unfilled yards with neighbors who have been outside all day. The neighbor one door east (who stuck at $10) had a total of five cars all day.
So today's James car park tally is 16 (33 for the first three days of the Fair). And we made more money parking 16 cars in three hours of work than our neighbor did in about six. Sometimes in retail, when you have inventory, selling volume at a lower price can be better than trying to maximize revenue.
And sometimes (like for us today), it is just dumb luck.
Around 6:00, when we were down to one last spot to sell, a mid-20s couple with a small, wilted child had walked back to from the Fair to their car (which was on the neighbor's lawn). They were from Chicago (though I didn't hold it against them) and had come back to the car - but didn't leave. They said that they didn't know the carry-in policy and had a cooler full of beer and soda, as well as some schnecks. They were quite pleasant, even offering the three of us a soda from their cooler. The spoke of coming back again later in the week (without the child) as the State Fair was far more than what they were expecting. They weren't specific about how different it was, but they seemed overwhelmed with the size and the offerings.
Whilst chatting, My-Sugar-Na and I asked them if they had tried the chocolate-covered bacon on a stick, or (my alltime favorite) the deep fried Snickers bar. The looks on their faces was priceless. They did ask if we had tried the macaroni and cheese on a stick (we haven't), but now I wonder how much time they spent looking for these delicacies.