A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 08, 2015
“If I could sell just one…” ("$30,000 pencil” sales joke)

A popular sales story is told about a beggar selling pencils on a sidewalk—for $30,000 a pencil. A man walks buy and tells him that no one will buy a pencil for that price. “Probably so,” says the beggar. “But if I could sell just one...”

The point of the story is not to price a good so high that no one will buy it. The joke has been cited in print since at least 1973, when it was included in The Mad Show: A Musical Revue Based on Mad Magazine.


Google Books
The Mad Show:
A Musical Revue Based on Mad Magazine

Book by Larry Siegel and Stan Hart
New York, NY: Samuel French, Inc.
1973
Pg. 31:
FRED. Hey, mister, want to buy a pencil?
DICK. Okay, how much?
FRED. $35,000.
DICK. $35,000? Are you out of your mind?
FRED. If I can sell just one…

Google Books
Television/Radio Age
Volume 27
1979
Pg. 189:
Putting together a rate card with these considerations reminds one of the beggar on a corner peddling pencils with absolutely no success. One day a businessman offered to buy a pencil, thinking it would be a dime or so. The beggar handed him the pencil and asked for $30,000. “What?” spluttered the businessman storming away."No wonder you don’t sell any pencils!” In his place stood the beggar muttering, “If only I could sell just one pencil.”

Wonderful Nightmare: A Dating Blog
The man with the $30,000 pencil: an analogy…
Posted on March 31, 2009 by wonderfulnightmare
(...)
My Dad used to tell this joke/parable about business. A man has a stand at a crowded outdoor market. A huge sign is unveiled in front of his table.

“Pencils. $30,000.”

A would be customer comes up to the pencil salesman and says, “Are you crazy? $30,000 for a pencil?”

The pencil salesman says, “Ah but if I just sell one.”

Ugly Hedgehog—Photography Forum
SharpShooter
Jan 15, 13 21:24:46
Gpa, there was this guy selling pencils for a million dollars each. A guy who needed a pencil asked, how much for a pencil? Million dollars was the reply. How come you want so much? Cause I wanna be a millionaire, replied the seller. Guys says, no way in h~*l you will ever sell a pencil for that. Seller says, yes, but I only have to sell just one!

Twitter
Jason Thibeault
‏@lousycanuck
Apple’s event reminds me of the old joke about the panhandler selling pencils for $10,000. “But if I could sell JUST ONE...”
12:57 PM - 9 Sep 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Tuesday, September 08, 2015 • Permalink