Tuesday, March 07, 2006

1998 must have been a good year in the Classie Corner vintage ratings. Here's another from the archives. At least one critic has been on my back to give datelines on these reprints but about all I can say is: Close your eyes, lay back and enjoy it; pick your names and places. The Classifieds are bigger than both (all) of us.

AN unusual headline in the Checkout Classifieds situations vacant section has highlighted the enterprising venture of a former Newcastle boy who has been on the Sunshine Coast since 1993.
The headline was certain top grab the attention of students of language. They don't get the chance to read "spruiker" all that often.
I recall asking my mum what spruiker meant after coming across it in a Henry Lawson story too many decades ago to list.
Mum's response was, "Ask your father." Which was puzzling because she was a keener reader than dad.
Dad quickly told me it was an old Aussie word for a man who stood outside sideshows to talk you into going inside. Fair enough, no big deal.
Today I found out why mum was so shy. I consulted Macquarie for a clue on the origin of "spruiker" and read the association with "stripjoint".
And since the term appeared in the Checkouts I have now learnt its most modern association, with retail stores.
Enter singer-guitarist Adam Truscott, who with wife Denise, diversified as a booking agent in 1996 to form Sumeo Entertainment. He says the agency now has 350 acts on its books and supplies entertainment for five Sunshine Coast shopping centres.
Last month he needed to find 14 spruikers for a promotion at Sunshine Plaza. His ad, saying "experience preferred", had about 30 responses.
Adam says one big retail chain attributes to spruiker-style promotions, including in-store demonstrations, about 30% of its annual sales.
A good spruiker in the 90s works the microphone well and can ad lib, he says. Generally the store presents the list of products and prices and the spruiker goes straight to work. At the Plaza the 14 dressed in the colours of the promotion."There are some very good spruikers on the Coast, including Narelle McCarthy, Celeste Fitzsimmons and Francis Leone," Adam says.
"One girl I recruited through the ad had never done it before but picked up three hours a day extra work for three weeks."
Spruikers aside, Sumeo Entertainment is working toward another big project, the second annual Sunshine Coast Blues Festival at the Sands Tavern on November 1.
Adam is pleased at having booked Melbourne headliners Louis King and the Liars Club and Papa Lips, billed as "Balmain soul".
FOOTNOTE: Dad may have been wrong in telling me that spruiker was a good Aussie word. The Macquarie says spruik comes from the German "spreken ".

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