At a benefit auction this spring, a man approached me at the dessert buffet. He’d noticed I’d switched from my flats into heels before I started the program on stage.
“You’ve gotten taller,” he said, checking out my shoes. “Nice! What size shoe do you wear?”
Before I carry on with this story, I should share another story from 20 years ago.
When I moved to D.C., one of my part-time jobs was working as a fragrance model in department stores.
I’d work a four hour shift promoting Calvin Klein fragrances, and then work a four hour shift promoting Givenchy.
During one long shift, a young, compact guy wandered in. He needed to buy a gift.
Presumably he was buying a gift for his girlfriend.
Presumably he liked to give more personal gifts that she would wear, such as perfume, clothing, or shoes.
Presumably she really liked western boots.
“Boots!? You’re in the wrong state to buy boots,” I told him, thinking of all the stores back in Kansas that had large selections.
After a much too-long conversation with this guy, he got me to slip off my flats so he could look at my foot for a size comparison to his presumed girlfriend’s foot.
And upon seeing my foot, he quickly left.
The conversation was a bit surreal, so a few minutes later I mentioned it to one of Macy’s full-time employees.
“OH GOD THAT GUY,” she rolled her eyes. “Call security. That dude has a foot fetish. He’s been floating in and out of here for a couple of weeks.”
That explained it.
Back to the original story.
When this auction guest asked me about my shoe size, those old memories about the foot fetish customer surfaced.
I warily told him my shoe size. “And why do you ask?”
“I have some shoes I could sell you,” he said confidently.
“Really!?” I said, “Are you a shoe salesman?”
“No. I just own a lot of shoes,” he said, “At one time, I had over 1,000 pair!”
I must have looked puzzled, so he cleared it all up for me.
“I’m a cross-dresser,” he confided, “But when my wife and I bought our condo and moved in together, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I still have too many shoes.”
We exchanged numbers for a possible sale, but I have a feeling his heel height is going to be greater than what my hips comfortably allow me to wear. And if I’m being honest, I’d rather spend my money on gardening tools over shoes.
Yet many people love shoes, so here’s a great raffle prize focused on them.
The gala chair of this event secured this high-value donation from a luxury department store.
Once a month for a year, the raffle winner would receive the following:
- A pair of designer shoes valued up to $1000.
- A facial or makeover featuring one of the product lines sold in the department store.
- Lunch for two in the store cafe.
- Value? $14,000!
Instead of selling this as a singular package in the live auction, the client opted to make this a raffle prize.
We sold 52 chances at $250 each, thereby generating $13,000.
With ~250 guests, this gala wasn’t particular large, but it had the right people attending. The raffle sold out, even with its premium ticket price.
- Not every community is going to have a luxury department store making this type of donation.
- And not every person is going to be keen on shoes or makeovers.
But for the right group, the prize is attractive and different. You can adjust the price point to match the value offered.
- Are you chairing a ladies luncheon auction?
- Is your Junior League organizing an event?
- Are you running a golf tournament, boutique bash, or working women’s-styled fundraiser?
- Most importantly, would the prize appeal to your guests, whomever they be?
If so, put your best foot forward (get it?) and approach a department store for a similarly-styled prize.