Mobile lessons from the Depression

A lot has changed ... a lot hasn't


In Pa’s case, that was quite literal. He’d bring home all the wilted lettuce, bruised apples and squished squash he couldn’t sell that day and his family would eat it. So he had to work extra hard to sell everything he could or he’d end up with more leftover than even a family of 10 could devour.

Which brings me back to the first point: buy smart. If Pa wasn’t careful about his purchasing, he’d end up with too much inventory or too many of the wrong items. And not only would that tie up his cash, his inventory would perish.

Your inventory won’t spoil, but it can become obsolete. So it’s important that you promote your products aggressively. And you need to really get to know your customers’ buying patterns so you aren’t stuck “eating” too much inventory, returns or a lot of skips.

In some ways, selling tools and equipment is much harder than being a street peddler in the ’30s. Pa never had to deal with receivables, shipping or computers. But there is a certain kinship of the “merchant on wheels” and a great freedom in being your own boss.

Someday you may find yourself telling your great-grandkids all your old mobile stories, too.

Phil Sasso is president of Sasso Marketing Inc. (, a technical marketing agency specializing in tools and equipment. Subscribe to his free marketing tips at

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