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John MacKintosh
Chapter XII - Bazaar Expert


Mr. Mackintosh's organizing genius naturally fitted him to be a "Bazaar Expert," and he was recognised as such. He gave himself to this work without reserve, and everywhere achieved success but he laid no claim to originality in his methods. "I always work," said he, "on the same lines as my friend Mr. Sherratt of Lytham. It is really his scheme."

But the knowledge of human nature revealed in the carrying out of the scheme was altogether his own, and it is this that 'makes his instructions to bazaar workers of such perennial interest. He also knew the value of personal leadership, and he travelled thousands of miles in order that he might meet the workers face to face and cheer them by his presence. Even when physical weakness made him a prisoner in the sick room, he would write lengthy letters full of wise suggestions, which inspired the church workers and showed them clearly the road to success.

Here is such a letter :-

"You know the old style of working for a bazaar. The ladies of a church band themselves together and begin to sew, making pillow-slips, spending hours stitching and sewing, and at the end selling what they have made for a profit of fourpence each article. That is the good old- fashioned way of raising money; the coppers creep up into shillings, the shillings into pounds, and after months of hard work quite a nice sum of money is got together. I do not suggest that it is not a good way of raising money. I say, if you can only earn fourpence a time, by all means continue to do so ; but if you can get the whole pillow-slip given by adopting this new scheme, that would be better than spending time and energy in earning fourpence."

But how to get the whole pillow-slip given was a difficult proposition to most people. Mr. Mackintosh said that the cause of failure was indefiniteness.

I meet my friend in the street, and after the usual greeting I say, 'Oh, Mr. Brown, we are going to have a bazaar at our school. Will you give me something for my wife's stall? ' Mr. Brown has heard this kind of story so many times before that he is rather sick of it, and before I have well asked my question he is saying, 'Please excuse me this time. You are a worthy lot, and all the rest of it, but, &c., &c., &c.' My mistake is my indefiniteness. Had, I said, 'Will you give me just one article for our bazaar'? 'the probability is that he would have gladly responded. This is the main point of the scheme. Ask every fime for just one article. This makes it easy for the person approached to say, 'Yes.' The appeal is so moderate. Whereas ninety out of a hundred refuse when asked for 'Something,' ninety out of a hundred will readily promise when asked for one article. And you can take it for granted, from the experience gained in connection with two hundred and fifty bazaars already worked by this scheme, that ninety-five persons out of a hundred who are asked for 'just one article' will provide it, and that sixty per cent. of the promises made for ' one article' will at the finish produce a parcel.

'A gentleman in Birmingham had a truckload of potatoes given; another in Manchester had a load of coal; a third a live pig; others butter, eggs, &c. Everyone should be asked for an article; the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the milkman, the grocer; personal friends and acquaintances, fellow-workmen in shops and factories, and by all means friends in other towns and distant countries. At a bazaar held in Halifax, Yorks, goods came from Australia, South Africa, Canada, Germany, Belgium and India.

"Many persons attending the same church will be asking people whom others have already approached. Whenever this is the case, instead of feeling disappointed, always be careful to express your grateful thanks to the person to whom you have applied. It is all the same whoever has received a promise to help so long as it has been made, and if each person is careful to express thanks, even though the promise was made to another member of the church, the person approached, instead of being annoyed by being asked a second time, will say ''What nice people these are? They are full of gratitude and good nature."

"It sometimes happens that when a person writes to a friend asking for an article that no reply is received, but don't take no reply as a refusal. If you do you will make a great mistake. A month before the opening of your bazaar write a reminder to all, including those who did not reply. You will find that many of them intend to help you, and their failure to reply is often an oversight ; for how many of us are guilty of neglecting to reply to our friends' letters?

He saw all round the subject, the inside and the outside of it; and he made every allowance for the failings of human nature, generously claiming to be guilty of like faults to those he discovered in others. Any one familiar with his style would recognise the above quotations as genuine even without his signature. They are so characteristic of the man. He foresaw all possible difficulties, and turned them aside with a jest. The church workers who are wise enough to follow his instructions will find that their success is greater than their most sanguine hopes, and, in addition, they will win the pleasant verdict, "What nice people these are? They are full of gratitude and good nature."

Bazaars are often condemned, and the promoters come in for severe criticism, but in justice it must be admitted that there as never yet been devised anything to equal them as a means of raising money. But doubtless, the last day may be in more than one sense the best day. Here is one of Mr. Mackintosh's stories with the usual grace of humour. "A boy was apprenticed to a country grocer, who also had a drapery department on the other side of his shop. It is a convenience in a village to be able to supply all one's needs at the same shop. After the boy had been there a week, the shopkeeper thought he would like to know whether the boy was fitted to become a grocer qr a draper, so he said, "My lad, which part of the business do you like best?" To which the boy made the truthful but unexpected reply, 'Putting the shutters up.'" And it is a very delightful part of the business of bazaars when you have reached your goal.

When undertaking the organising of a bazaar, Mr. Mackintosh advised the workers to call a meeting and to arouse curiosity by hinting at something that would take place, but not making it clear what it would be, except that it would be in the nature of a surprise. At the meeting, "Have a number of collecting books ready, and in addition to the books, pencils should be provided ; and be sure to have them sharpened, as some people make excuses so easily, and their excuse for not helping might be that they had no pencil, or if they had a pencil it had got no point! You can buy these pencils 'very cheap now a days."

It was no wonder that he was successful as a "Bazaar Expert," for he foresaw and provided for all difficulties, and he never asked others to do what he was not prepared to do himself. When some British officers on board Sir Francis Drake's ship wanted only to give orders and then watch the seamen labour, Drake brusquely informed them, "I must have the gentlemen th haul and draw with the mariner, and the mariner with the gentlemen. I would like to know him that would refuse to set his hand to a rope."

Mr. Mackintosh found willing crews because he never refused "to set his hand to a rope." He was built for big enterprises, for he had a big brain and a big heart, and was the head of a big business. He travelled thousands of miles to serve the Church with his special gifts in this department; and when the workers saw him at their meetings and listened to his careful explanation of the working of his scheme, and then reflected that he was one of the busiest men in the busy industrial town of Halifax, and that he had travelled so far in order to put his business genius at their disposal, they were won before he formulated his plans. Other business men caught the glow of his enthusiasm and followed his lead with a will, and "The gentlemen drew with the mariner and the mariner with the gentlemen, and every man set his hand to a rope."

Churches were led to attempt, and helped 'to achieve, greater things than they would have thought possible, apart from the encouragement he gave them. Amongst his papers were many, letters of thanks from bazaar workers. One from Dudley, 17th October, 1910, contains the following passage :-

"Our bazaar exceeded our brightest expectations. Total, 1,250. We owe very much to you for having introduced your scheme."

Another dated from Berry Brow, near Huddersfield, Dec. 16th, 1911, reports 1,040 raised, and states that left to themselves they would scarcely have hoped to raise 300, and the good done was not all financial :-

"The business meetings have been love- feasts the unity, good feeling, and give-and-take spirit which have prevailed have been a delightful feature throughout."

And again :-

"Many thanks for your splendid services to 'Salem.' May time and strength be given you to do for others what you have done so wisely and so well for us."


 


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