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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Five Types of Sampler

First off, apologies if you got the last post eight million times. There was a little problem with the HTML link and it wasn't apparent until after I'd hit the little publish button. What can I say? I'm a pastry chef, not an IT whiz.

I promised a more in depth story about chocolate sampling at the Weaver Street Market. After five(ish) hours of standing face to face with shoppers, I think I've identified a few distinct types of sampler.

The Enthusiast: approaches the display with gusto, intent on procuring a sample; tastes, appraises, responds accordingly (about 98% positive, in my case); proceeds to discuss all aspects of chocolate making, eating and buying.

The Frugal Nibbler*: tentatively tries a very small piece; quite surprised to actually be enjoying it; looks at the price and scurries away. (* there are two types of frugal nibbler, the one who checks the price and smiles while quietly backing away, and the one who checks the price and loudly declares "too rich for my wallet" or "I'll just stick to the samples!" and makes an exit)

The Multi-Sampler: walks up, tries one of each piece, and continues with shopping; approx 5-15 minutes later, reappears and attempts a look of innocence while trying two more pieces; upon making eye contact, the multi-sampler will often cite a child/friend/significant other on the opposite side of the store who just "has to try this" (it's ok, it's flattering, really)

The Analyst: before sampling, or while the chocolate is melting on his/her tongue, the Analyst will ask questions and inspect the ingredients list; my favorite analyst was a woman who said, "does this contain sugar?"

The Ghost: actually not a sampler at all, but an apparition-like shopper, intent on making only the pre-ordained purchases and getting out; the most notable thing about the Ghost is the ability to avoid eye contact, distractions, or the allure of chocolate.

As a lone chocolatier, I don't have a large group of people with whom I interact daily. It's pretty much just me and my infinitely helpful assistant/grandmother. Five hours of people watching was very much an information overload, but it was also lots of fun. I hope no one reads this list and finds it cynical - that wasn't my intention. Every single person who took the time to stop, sample and interact with me deserves some thanks. I realize that they were getting quite a payoff - free chocolate - but they were giving me the opportunity to share my business with them and potentially make a new client. The more contacts, the more sales, and the longer I get to keep doing what makes me happiest.

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