Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Golf Balls

This is a follow-up to "Cash Flow". When the imagination is put to work, it is capable of coming up with some unique ideas to help earn some extra money.

I was thinking about how I came up with money while in college. Sure, there were the odd jobs: working for a house painter, working for a landscape maintenance crew, janitor work in a doctor's office, the same in an insurance office, and the unusual job of janitor work for Swift Meat Packing plant. That job is a story in itself. First there was the smell from 1,100 cattle being processed through there each day. Then there was the smell from boiling all the blood to make it into fertilizer. My roommate and I would work there for about six hours, five nights per week. Our job was to clean the cafeteria, locker rooms, halls, offices, etc. There were other crews who had the job of steam cleaning the meat processing areas each night. Some of those guys looked like the bad guys out of some movie about human butchers. We went through the meat processing areas each night to get to the back offices. Can you imagine racks, all lined up, with 1,100 cow tongues, 1,100 livers, 2,200 Rocky Mountain oysters, 1,100 etc.? It was pretty amazing!

But, there was another way we made money. A few of us would swim in golf course lakes and irrigation ditches in the middle of the night looking for golf balls. We would cover the whole Phoenix metro area. We knew which golf course to go to if we were low on new, quality balls; and which one for average balls. There was a course in Mesa where we could count on getting 200-400 golf balls in one trip. The problem is that it was a cheap, public course and the players knew where the water hazards were. So, they used crappy balls and we had to throw away half of what we gathered. Then, again, we could go to a private course and come home with about a dozen new Maxfli or Titleist.

We inherited a golf ball washing machine from an upper classman. We mounted it on the stand for the gum ball machine that was in the hall. We swam at night, slept late, ate and then scrubbed and sorted golf balls. (Oh yes, and we were studying while we were doing all the rest of this.)

During a trip to Encanto Golf Course to sell balls, we learned a lesson. We had my trunk full of boxes of sorted and clean golf balls. They ranged from new, good quality balls to average condition balls for practice or use on water holes. Our prices ranged from $ .05 to $.25 each. My roommate and I spent about three hours trying to sell the balls. We had lookers but no takers. We were puzzled as we could not lower the price more than it already was.

Discouraged and lacking supper money, we went back to the dorm. That night I had an idea. The next day we went with the same balls back to the same parking lot and we sold all of our inventory in about 30 minutes. What did we do different? We doubled the price on everything. Our prices had been too low. Golfers thought there must be something wrong with our balls for them to be so cheap. When we charged more, they were more comfortable in buying them and we sold everything.

You do what you gotta do!

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