When I returned home from Kansas City on New Year’s Day, I thought I had my plan laid out for 2011. Step 1: Continue to go door to door until I cover every house in Jackson. Step 2: Get radio play. Step 3: Plan a tour for next fall. Step 4: CD Release Concert/Birthday Bash in the Michigan Theatre on October 15, 2011. Step 5: Record Deal.
All of those steps are still in place except for Step 1. Even though I wear outlandlishly stylish winter apparel, I can no longer justify trudging through the snow covered streets of Jackson, MI in sub zero temperatures while my fingers freeze, and my face begins to look like I put it into a tanning bed for way too long. I thought about doing door to door when I got back from K.C., and I kept thinking about it. And then I’d think about it some more. My over analysis was a sign of procrastination, which was a sign of dread. I don’t like Michigan’s cold weather, and the thought of voluntarily spending five hours a day walking through it had lost its sex appeal.
So, I did what I normally do when I come to a road block. I prayed, and God slipped a thought/picture into my mind of me in Elder-Beerman playing “My Valentine” for the make-up department. “No, I don’t wanna play in the mall” was my obstinate reply. But one day later, I was hauling Jacopo, my guitar, through the aisles of Elder-Beerman and into the Westwood Mall of Jackson.
It went surprisingly well! My facebook post from the first day reads, “Sold 8 cd’s so far in Westwood Mall… 1 in Payless Shoes… 1 in Rogers & Holland… 2 in Bath & Body… 1 in Christopher Banks… 1 that I can’t remember where… 1 at Andy’s Pizza… and 1 at my favorite store in the world, PACSUN… Got a show set up in Hot Topic for Feb. 4. Also, had an elderly lady give me the “Come hither” eyebrows… Woah.”
After the first day, I decided to go back and try again… This is the next facebook update: “Sold 9 cd’s today in Westwood Mall… And my cd’s are now being sold at “Cool Beans” in the very center of the mall… Thanks Jennifer (the owner) and Taylor (her daughter)! Taylor saw me perform at Western Middle School for an assembly, and she bought the ninth cd today!”
Day 3: “Sold 9 cd’s today in… Comerica Bank, Wendy’s, Burger King, Aeropostale, and Jason Caldwell Studios. Met Andy and two high flyers from Napolean’s cheerleading team… Got to know the security guard and Mall Manager, who ended up being super nice. I also got 15 orders for cd’s that I’m going to fill tomorrow. I love Westwood Mall:)”
Day 4: “Sold 19 cd’s today!… 2 Comerica, 4 Walden Books, 1 Payless Shoes, 1 Gold Pro’s, 2 to some girls, 2 Trade Home Shoes, 1 Christopher Bank’s, 1 American Eagle, 2 Kay Jeweler’s, 1 College Den, 2 randomly. Also played in VICTORIA’S SECRET for Greta… There’s nothing more uncomfortable than playing in a store with pink bras and panties… Eh, whatevs…”
Day 5: “Sold 14 cd’s today… 1 at Elder Beerman… 1 at Campus Den… 2 at Jimmy John’s… 3 at a makeup shop… 2 at Medawar Jeweler’s… 3 at Roger’s & Holland… 1 at Jason Caldwell’s Design in the mall… 1 at Mcdonald’s plus a ten dollar tip from Wanda… Wanda, Nancy, Carrie, and Kristin were awesome! Cd sales are splendid! Thanks all!”
Obviously, Westwood Mall went great! I wanted to see if Jackson Crossing, the mall across town, would have the same results.
Jackson Crossing Day 1: “Sold 23 cd’s today! Got hired by Caron and Mary at Fashion Bug to play a surprise song after their friend’s wedding… Also was hired by Tony at Citi Trends to play a birthday gram for his wife. Played at Agape Books, Koney Island, Deb, Men’s Wearhouse, Foot Locker, Claire’s, Fashion Bug, BoRics, Famous Footwear, Bath & Body, and Artistic Designs. Woah! God has given me favor. I’ll write about it in my next blog! :)”
Day 2:”Sold 9 cd’s today and got a great big tip! Thanks so much Artistic Designs Hair Salon! Kristen and the rest of you ladies are great! If you don’t know of a good place to get your hair done, check it out on W. Monroe in Jackson! It’s legit! Also sold a cd at Claire’s and at the coffee shop in Jackson Crossing… Great day!”
Day 3: “Sold 16 cd’s today… so far… 2 in Famous Footwear… 1 in Agape… 1 in Things Brewed… and 6 more all over Jackson Crossing Mall… 4 in Artistic Designs Hair Salon… and 2 in another awesome hair salon that Stephanie Burbo invited me to sing at. If you have a place for me to sing during the day, let me know!”
Day 4 & 5: “Sold 7 cd’s and played a paying show yesterday… Sold 1 cd today to Tom at a Best Buy in Lansing after randomly playing a song in Best Buy. Sold 12 cd’s today in 2 hours at Jackson Crossing Mall and Fazoli’s… Also got two substantial tips! I took it easy today, but still sold 13 cd’s… Hmmm… God’s favor? I think so.”
As I played for the workers in Westwood Mall and Jackson Crossing, a light bulb went off. The reason it works so well is because nobody shops Monday- Thursday during the day. The workers are either folding clothes, stocking shelves, or just plain bored. They’ve never had a 6’6″ guy with a guitar show up, smile, and say, “I’m here to serenade you!”
At first, I thought it might be the Lord’s way of humbling me, but now I realize it’s a brilliant plan! That’s why I’m announcing my “Michigan Mall Tour 2011.” If you have a better suggestion for a tour name, please comment or facebook me.
Before I decided to do this, I gave it a trial run in the Crossroads Mall of Portage, MI. Here are the results.
Day 1: “Sold 10 cd’s at The Crossroads mall today in Portage, MI… 2 in Motherhood… 1 in Chico’s… 2 in Roger’s & Holland… 2 at Kala Silva… and 3 in other places… Also I’m staying with the Ben & Allie’s tonight!”
Day 2: “Sold 12 cd’s today in Portage, MI… 5 in The Crossroads Mall… Then got asked by security not to play because of “Mall Policy…” Sold 4 in Biggby on Westnedge… 1 in a nail salon… and 2 in Fazoli’s. I already have 13 orders for cd’s tomorrow… Also met up with my friend, Nicole Keith! and made a new friend, Jess Hall.”
Day 3: “Sold 16 cd’s yesterday in Kalamazoo… My mall tour in Kalamazoo was a huge success! I sold 41 cd’s in three days. I’m looking to get a Michigan Mall tour together. If you have suggestions of malls or venues, comment below! I’m starting to plan for it this weekend.”
It worked! It turns out that most stores in any mall don’t have customers during the day, which means that when I’m able to provide a smile and some entertainment, people really respond. Not only am I selling cd’s, but I’m providing a service, which was my goal all along.
This winter you won’t see my footprints on the snow paved sidewalks of Jackson, but you will see my business cards laying on the counter of every store in every Michigan mall. My path to a record deal has taken an unexpected turn, but I continue to trust that as I plan my adventures, the Lord directs my steps.
During this time of transition and planning, I need houses across Michigan to stay in, suggestions for good malls to go to, and other venues to play at in the evening when the malls close up. Any suggestions are appreciated. Please feel free to facebook me, comment on this wall, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you got a place that you think I need to play at, get ahold of me! Thanks for your prayers and encouragement!