achalander (ah-sha-lohn-day) verb
1. to get shoppers to come in and browse
bien achalandé(e) = well-stocked (store)
achalandage (m) = clientele
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word achalander:
Ce n'est pas acheter qui instruit, mais vendre.
It is not buying that teaches, but selling.
A Day in a French Life...
At Vincent's* restaurant in Phoenix where the parking lot is transformed into an authentic French market each Saturday from 9-1, Jean-Marc and I set up our tables beneath a canvas tent. While my husband lines up his Rhône reds and Provence rosés, I hover giddily in front of my own table, one that Vincent's wife, Leevon, provided me. "You can pull it forward if you like," she hints, offering a helpful sales tip on how to stop traffic. Almost before she's finished her sentence, I'm yanking the table toward the center of the aisle.
I prop up two laminated poster boards displaying my forthcoming book and begin stacking the no longer in print editions. As I fret about presentation, Penny from the légume* stand walks up and introduces herself. Her warmth and vivacity both calm and inspire me. She fans out the books for a more inviting presentation, breaking up the serious stacks which had screamed "no sampling!"
"Maybe that's too much," I say, pointing to the extra poster board.
"No, it isn't," she says, pulling the glossy promotional affiche* forward.
With my table bien achalandée,* I stand and wait, a hopeful look on my shiny face. Potential clientele, or 'achalandage,' pass by and eventually stop to browse.
"No, it's not French recipes!" the woman with a sack of strawberries says to her friend, tossing the paperback to the table. Another potential buyer in a warm-up suit approaches my stand. He holds an iced tea in his hand and I watch in silent torture as condensation from the cold drink collects on the cup's surface eventually to fall, drip by excruciating drip, onto the books' covers. He takes a sip from the straw and turns to leave.
"I'll be back to buy one," one woman says, snapping her gum and putting the book down. When she walks off, Jean-Marc puts an index finger to the skin beneath his right eye and tugs. French body language for "when pigs fly".
While some hesitate to buy, others zoom up, grab a book and hand me crisp bills before rushing off to discover the next stand. Meanwhile Jean-Marc serves up red and rosé, chatting all the while about French wine. He is thoughtful in directing his clients to my stand. "That's my wife!" he says, pointing to the woman now sitting on the stairs, just beyond her table. "Those are her self-published books--soon to be collector's items!" he adds, tapping the glossy poster board, ever-enthusiastic.
When French pigs fly, I think to myself and go on to tug the skin beneath my lower right lash. But instead of reaching for the bag beneath my eye, my hand redirects itself to a book which it picks up. Next, my mouth flies open to add--
"Only fifteen dollars, tax included!"
References: Vincent's: http://www.vincentsoncamelback.com ; légume (m) = vegetable; une affiche (f) = poster; bien achalandé(e) = well stocked
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