Review 2005

Leah Penn

My name is Leah, and I am a vendor. Yes, I am one of those people that is alternately annoying and useful during a game at the sports stadium. I hawk cotton candy, lemonade, snocones, or hot chocolate, depending on the weather and my pick of the day. I've been vending for 6 years, and I've worked for the company for 8 years. To fully understand the vending goals I've achieved this year, you have to understand that vending isn't just my job. It's a family thing. My little brother also works at the stadium with me, and my older brother is the one who started the job at the Kingdome in Seattle and pulled us in. Even before that, my father and his brothers were vendors. In fact, my mother and father met while they were both working at the Brewers stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Vending is in my blood. By the end of the year, I will have achieved three goals in vending, and I've already got two down.

My first goal was a personal one; I wanted to work at every major stadium in Seattle. I began my career at the Kingdome (although I didn't vend there), and I began vending when Safeco Field opened up. I worked at the Key Arena (Sonics basketball) over winter break, even though the pay was fairly dismal. When Qwest Field (formerly know as Seahawks Stadium) was finally built, I also started there. I had four fields down, so Husky Field - the college football stadium - was my last challenge. I've been trying to vend there for several years, but I never lived in Seattle during the fall college season because of my own college studies. This year, I'm out of college, and I finally had the chance to work a game and achieve my goal. I must say that I was a bit disappointed; while Husky Field is beautiful and historic, it's not a great place to vend. Mostly, it's a combination of lots of drunk students behaving badly with the uneven, worn concrete steps and small aisles. Still, a job is a job, and I've done my job all over Seattle.

My second goal is one held by ever vendor in my company. We chart our progress my dollars made in sales. A typical day at the baseball stadium can be anywhere from $400 to $700 in sales for the average vendor, and it's a bit higher at football games (go figure - I'm not sure why either). The big benchmark is $1,000 in product sales. At 15% commission, that gives you roughly $150, though it is more like $140 after taxes. Still, it's a big goal, and I've never been able to achieve it. I'm 5'4", a bit pudgy, and not really athletic. While I do just fine vending, I've never been a top seller. However, just last week, I finally broke a thousand. I've been working out recently, which I presume has raised my stamina and speed while weighted down. Last Sunday, there were only three vendors at Qwest Field (normally, we have five), it was a cold day, and we were selling hot chocolate. The start was a little dismal, and I had to return to the vending room with a few unsold product. To make up for it, I began to take a few extra hot chocolates on each tray, and it ultimately added up to push me to $1,008.75 in sales. This was 269 hot chocolates in about four and a half hours!

My third and final goal of the year will be met today, on Christmas Eve. My brothers will be home for the holidays, and the three of us will finally have the chance to all vend together. We're worked together before, but we've never all been vendors at the same time. I'm quite excited to work with them.

Vending isn't my life, but it sure is a wonderful job. It has seen me through high school and college with money in my pocket and more in the bank. The money I've saved allowed me to study abroad in Europe, purchase a digital camera, and learn about wise spending. I'm not sure if I'll continue vending through graduate school (I suppose it depends on what city I go to), but I know I've learned a lot from my 8 years of work with my company. You can't be shy while vending successfully; and you can see how polite behavior, quick math, and speed all add up to greater profits. I definitely hope my children carry on this family tradition.

Leah Penn writes penn

For an introduction and list of contributors to Review 2005, follow this link.

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