Life Of a Sticker Salesman
8:15 am (Durango, CO) - Breakfast Burritos
8:30 am - Cappuccino's from Bead Head Coffee....likely the best cap in all the four corners. Patrick the owner and the only person who works there re-made mine 3x's because it didn't "pull long enough" and would taste awful. Just go there, you'll be happy you did. No WiFi, just chess boards everywhere.
12:05 pm (Moab, UT) - Emily, Maybel and myself pull into the McStiff's parking lot, realize the Wake N' Bake is gone! We weren't there for Wake N" Bake but devastating none-the-less. It's our Moab cafe! With stickers loaded in my back pocket and extra's in Emily's purse we casually walk into Pagan Sports, immediately asking about the the Wake N" Bake's fate and thankfully learn they are just remodeling. Whew.
I ask for A. the buyer, he's been in Kalymnos Greece climbing for 40 days crushing over hung limestone and just happened to have returned yesterday. I've met him via email but wanted him to have a face for the "sticker guy". I gave him the latest Utah stickers at the start of the conversation but we continued to shoot the shit over climbing for 90% of the conversation.
Bry - "Hit me up when you you get to Spring buying, would love to work with you guys." I've been going to Pagan since I started climbing in the West so this would be a super rad spot to have something like our Indian Creek Rock climbing sticker.
Emily and I walk Maybel awkwardly to some grass near the visitor center on Main street, she hasn't been on a leash in quite a while. Emily also has to use the restroom and what do you know the visitor center says "gifts." I tie Maybel up and walk inside. I patiently wait at the unattended counter looking at maps. I nice women named K. eventually walks up "May I Help You...?"
Bry - "Yeah, I have an odd question for you, so I make stickers for the Utah area, they're really rad and I think they'd do great in here, I'd love to leave some for the buyer or just somehow submit them?"
K. - "Oh that's S., if you go south of town take a left on the road that's directly behind the Shell near the KOA."
Bry - "Got it, thanks so much! Would you like some stickers, these are the ones I was talking about."
12: 20pm - Departing the Moab Visitor Center we go to Desert Dreams for a pre-arranged meeting with C. and P. the owners of the shop. It's a beautiful gift shop directly on Main street that is perfect for stickers. I brought a ton of stickers with me in the truck and a sticker display just incase they wanted to buy some on the spot but more-or-less again just going to show my face to them and introduce myself hoping they'll buy for the upcoming season.
They want to buy right there so Emily holds onto Maybel while answering their questions and I literally run back to the truck and get all my stickers and the display, they buy BIG, enough to pay my rent this month. Amazing start to the day. If it was over here I'd be incredibly happy.
1:00 pm - Pulling into the parking lot for the office where the buyer for the visitor center is supposed to be and the name seems oddly familiar, the Canyonlands National History Association. It's a nice new stucco office building typical to the SouthWest and I again act like I'm looking at maps at the unattended front desk while noticing memorabilia for Arches National Park and a big conference room with 12 tall backed leather chairs through glass doors.
A. - "May I help you?"
Bry - "Yes, is S. here?"
A. - "Oh he happens to be at lunch, should be back in an hour or so. Would you like to leave a note"
Bry - "Nope, I'm going to go on a hike with my girlfriend and dog, we'll be back. Thanks"
A. - "What exactly is it you need?"
Bry -"Well, I make rad stickers for Utah and specifically Moab and would love to show some samples to S., he is indeed the buyer right?"
A. - "He does but actually B. approves the product first and then S. does the buying" This is when I realize B. is a women I just sent samples to last week, left a voicemail with yesterday and this organization is the same one that runs the gift shop inside Arches National Park as well as a hand full of others. Needless say it's a huge account and I should probably review my accounts better before going on trips like this.
Bry. - "Gotcha, I'll be back in an hour or so gonna go on that hike. Thank you."
Emily, myself and Maybel do just that and find a super cool short hike to Faux Falls and enjoy some time in the desert sunshine and cool off in the frigid melt water coming down from the La Sals Mountains. It's a glorious recharging afternoon for our body and souls. A truly nourishing time considering how cold it's been recently in Durango. We're all feeling pretty stoked on life and the energy is high.
2:40 pm - Pulling back into the parking lot, Emily decides to chill in the truck while I quickly show face to S., she kisses me and I load more stickers into my back pocket. Now, I know B. his co-worker already has my samples but I don't know if this guy has even heard of me yet and I want everyone here to know my face and see my stickers so I walk in... looking a lot like HuckleBerry Finn.
I have a complete disregard for formal wear and the notion we should dress to impress. I dress for utility and so therefor had my Chaco Sandals on from crossing the sandy rivers during our hike, my quick dry Prana pants still rolled up to just under my knees, one of my favorite t-shirts on with a few holes in it, a zipper-less jacket, badass sun hat and a scraggly looking beard of course. I expected it would be a simple 45 second meet and greet and I'd be on my way or I would have rolled my pants down. Maybe.
Bry - "Is S. back from lunch yet?"
E - "Yup, but he happens to be in a meeting, care to wait?"
Bry - "Oh yeah, thank you."
A few minutes go by and another dude walks in, a co-worker looking for S. and the receptionist tells this dude that he has a meeting so it'll have to wait and points in my direction. I look around ensuring she's pointing to me...when did this turn into a meeting I wonder?
S. eventually walks out and gives me a quick once over look, realizing indeed HuckleBerry Finn is in the building with red mud still on his sandals and hair freshly dried from the spring water, hat tipped back a little bit.
He invites me to come with him into the conference room, I sit smiling big in the dwarfing leather chairs realizing just how out of my element I am and truly loving the awkwardness. Moments like this are just amazing.
He already has the samples I sent last week! They were literally top on his desk. Another women named C. walks in, I needlessly pull more sticker samples from my back pocket to ensure he has all the designs and they continue to tell me they absolutely adore my stickers!! However, there's a ton of hurdles to go through still as each and every product must be approved by the National Park people or someone another and that it's going to be weeks before anything really happens.
Thankfully patience is a virtue I actively practice so this amazing news, I would wait years to work with these people but they encouragingly tell me they don't want to wait until next year to add these stickers, they want them this season.
We chat about hurdles like packaging, presentation in the stores and an informal non-compete they have with small business's in Moab to ensure they don't cross sell similar products. They hope we can get around all these or get an exception, I totally agree with their sentiment. S. and C. seemed genuinely excited about the originality of the illustrations and were totally welcoming despite my attire and difference in lifestyle. I felt by coming across genuinely they were even more excited that I wasn't some gumby salesman simply trying to make a buck but seemed to actually connect with this product.
I wasn't trying to be anything other than an adventure loving stickers salesman attempting to pay for rent, gas, the frequent breakfast burrito and occasional cappuccino. Who know's if you'll ever see my stickers in the gift shops at Arches but it doesn't really matter. Life will go on, I'll go on many more adventures and this is one of those memories I'll reflect on when someones asks....what's it like selling stickers?
- Bryant AuCoin