A couple of Saturdays ago, on December 17, 2016, I held a small and simple book signing for my book, Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down the Barbeque Trail at West Side Perk coffee shop in Bloomington, Minnesota. On this day, it turns out we got hit with a double whammy. Minus 20 degrees below zero and a snow storm to boot. Fun!
I had doubts as to whether I should have proceeded with this signing given the weather, but decided to carry on like a trooper. Deb, the owner of West Side Perk, had a table and utensils all ready for me when I arrived. She explained they had electricity for only half her shop that morning, and that utility trucks were working on the situation.
I suspected there might be low turnout given the conditions, but I dutifully set up my table, complete with pulled pork from Mr. Pig Stuff in Shakopee, replete with their Kentucky Bourbon sauce. I had been up at 5 am to heat the pulled pork so it’d be nice and warm for those who stammered by my table.
This signing was to take place between 10 am and noon. That first hour there was a Dad and three kids in there. The only other person to show up that first hour was Professor Donald, whom I know from working out at Planet Fitness gym just down the road. Professor Donald is a retired University of Minnesota Professor who loves working out at the gym, and likes barbeque too! He had told me weeks ago that he would be there, and sure enough, he was.
Professor Donald left around 11 am, and only a handful of people showed up during the next hour. I got to practice my spiel. “Why are you here? Tell us your story,” they’d exclaim. So I gave it to them. All of it. I work at a school, I work with barbeque fanatics who brag about how great their barbeque is, and they brag that this place they know of in this city or that is the greatest ever…ever. I warned them, I surely did, I was going to go on a barbeque tour and find the truth, so I did, I don’t joke about stuff like that. This is my journey in my search for barbeque. It’s not a recipe book, it’s about my journey…
Hey, I made a sale! How exhilarating for me. Someone, someone I don’t know, stopped by, heard my spiel, ate my pulled pork, schmoozed, and bought. I didn’t make a million bucks, but I sure felt like a million bucks.
Slowly, ever so slowly other customers trickled in. Try the pulled pork I exhorted them, and sure enough, they did. Slowly the three pounds of pulled pork I had in the crock pot dwindled. And I made another sale!
Better yet, this person used a credit card. My first transaction on my Square. That little white thing that plugs into a smartphone for processing credit cards. I had the chip reader too! I punched in $15.00, the price of my book, got distracted a little, turned back to my phone and hit the transaction button. Nooooo! Gosh darn it. My little fingers touched the keypad on the phone when I was turned away and what got transacted was $150.03. Not good. Fortunately for me (I didn’t read the instructions that came with Square), I hit the little X in the upper left corner, and best I could tell it canceled the transaction. Whew! That was a close one…my first transaction. I carefully explained to the lady my blunder and subsequent fix, and urged her, urged her, to please check her banks account.
Before the afternoon was over I sold another book! And schmoozed! And my sister stopped by. And I ran out of pulled pork! I didn’t kill it that day, but one lady who bought my book was sending it to her Dad in Texas as a Christmas present. Hallelujah.
While yes, foot traffic that day was hurt by Old Man Winter, he couldn’t stop the fun, the schmoozing. Curveballs got known to the world, and to a Dad in Texas. That alone was worth it. And gosh darn it that pulled pork was good. And while I’m at it, Deb and her West Side Perk couldn’t have been a more gracious host. I finally left at 6 pm, four hours after I my scheduled end time.
Well, for all of you out there who missed my signing, you can get a copy of Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down the Barbeque Trail at West Side Perk in Bloomington, a mile east of Highway 169 and Old Shakopee Road. It’s a warm, friendly coffee shop where you can get a cup of Joe and curl up on a comfy chair and read to your heart’s content the trials and tribulations of my search for barbeque. Take care.