I really like my crockpot (I’d say I “love” it, but I’m pretty short on love these days. I’ve been damaged enough by life where I don’t toss that word around much anymore – Frank is pretty much the only recipient at his point. But I digress …)
So I am a bit chagrined that after spending about 5 hours yesterday on detailed space planning, I’ve come down to not having a place for it … unless Frank wants to use it as a car seat! My brother has made a great suggestion via a comment to Friday’s blog entry about using the “Space Bag” vacuum storage system for my clothes, blankets and other compressible items I’m packing. But how do I re-pack them on the road? The portable deflators listed in the “other users who bought this item also bought …” section on Amazon’s Space Bag page all got mixed reviews. I’ve contacted Ziploc (who makes the Space Bag) asking for suggestions. I’ve also contact Coleman about one of their products to see if it’s Space Bag compatible. But I need something small … it would defeat the purpose if the bags only create enough room to carry the pump, right? And by the way, the air mattress I’ve chosen has a built-in pump, so I wasn’t needing one. Until now.
But on to other things …
That particular air mattress is on sale this weekend – marked down from $110 to $80. I contacted the Amazon dealer who’s selling it because they didn’t list its dimensions when deflated. To my surprise, his storefront had a phone listing (which you know is rare if you’ve done much shopping on Amazon). As an aside, this guy has great reviews for customer service, which went hand-in-hand with his willingness to post his phone number.
I called, thinking I was going to get a recording, but it was picked up by a live person. And not just any live person … Patrick, who happened to be the guy who owned the company. And he wasn’t just the retailer – he was the one who came up with the design! (I’m sure he sweeps up at the end of the day, too – your typical small business entrepreneur.) Patrick was still at home, getting ready to go in to work in his Los Angeles store. We struck up a conversation during which I told him of my plans (at this point, I’m telling people I’m retiring and taking an extended camping tour of the U.S.- no need to go into what got me there, I suppose). I told him of my intent to do the blog, how I had a number of folks on Facebook that I hoped would follow me and that I was trying to turn the blog into a bit more. Perhaps doing reviews of campsites and camping gear and the like.
He flipped! He loved it! We had a 20 minute conversation about pretty much everything EXCEPT the mattress (but he did give me the specs). Another aside – I’ve not shared this idea with a lot of people, but I’m amazed at the number of them who actually like the idea and have expressed a certain amount of envy about my journey. That stuns me! You actually want to be driven into homelessness by a life of bad decisions that has left me short of money and paralyzed to the point of not being able to work? If there’s any envy here, it’s me being envious of “normal” people who’ve been able to save for an easy retirement and have a loving family situation. But again, I digress. I do that a lot!
Anyhow, Patrick wished me luck and I thanked him. I then started thinking about whether the $30 savings was worth buying the mattress now since I’m short of cash and have to put down deposits on campsites and the like.
It’s been about 15 minutes. The ADD element of my PTSD had taken over and my mind had moved on to about 10 other non-related things when the phone rang. It was Patrick calling me back: “Jeff, I was thinking about this while I was taking a shower. We have a new product that I’m hoping will be ready by the time you set off on your trip. It’s the same as this air mattress except it’s going to have inner coils.” He explained that the coils would also be air-filled, which would provide more support than discrete air pockets but would still deflate down to the same size as the mattress I was going to buy. “It’d be cool to be able to post on my Website that our first customer was taking it on a cross-country camping trip. We could have photos of it in your tent at various places, whatever. It would be a pretty good advertising!”
My need to shell out the money this weekend was alleviated by his next comment. “Hold off buying your mattress this weekend. I’m not sure the new model is going to be ready by the time you leave, but if it’s not, I’ll still let you have the current mattress at the sale price.”
Once I got past the weird feeling I had after he told me he was thinking of me while showering, I said I loved the idea and thanked him for making the offer. We exchanged email addresses (we’ve already sent each other a test email), and I promised to be back in touch as I got closer to launch.
So now, I have to figure out how to do something I’m not good at – asking him to simply give me the mattress in exchange for doing the “promotional tour” for him … or perhaps even provide a small stipend to cover some of my blog costs. I’ve never been good at selling. So between now and then, I have to figure out how to do that. I know at a head level that this would be worth it for him, i.e. cheap advertising that would probably result in a few sales. But at a visceral level, I feel like I’m scamming him. I’ll have to work that out, I suppose.
That’s it for today. I’m going to hold off writing about packing the car until I hear back from Ziploc and/or Coleman. Tomorrow, I think I’ll go over where I’m at with my campsite reservations.