One if by land. Two if by sea…

http://janhermbouwhuis.nl/blog/2018-3/15-januari/ Listen my friends I’ll tell the tale

order priligy Of a most unique and unusual sale

With apologies to Longfellow I recount one of the more memorable sales of my career…

It was Boston in the fall of 1993, and students were flocking to the institutions of higher learning that abound in the Boston area. This influx included a great many international students– some of whom were from middle income families, but many of whom were from families of great means and wealth.

I was a young sales associate at the esteemed M. Steinert & Sons piano store which is located on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. This historic 6 story building looks out over the famed Boston Common. On the day in question, the bell at the entryway rang, and in walked a family. They immediately proceeded to survey the pianos on the first floor moving around in a tight circle like a knot.

The Historic Six Story Flagship Building Overlooking the Boston Common

Historic Six Story  Building Overlooking Boston Common

I introduced myself and inquired as to their needs. The father informed me that his daughter had been accepted at Harvard University: in addition, she had been accepted as a student by one of the piano faculty at The New England Conservatory. “We are in need of a piano for her dorm room– a Steinway.”

We began our journey with a focus towards the smaller grands and uprights. Winding our way through the pianos in the various showrooms on all the floors, we eventually found our way to a recently debuted Model S in North American Cherry wood with a Hepplewhite furniture design. This piano was a first in what was to become a very successful—and well-loved–line of instruments from Steinway’s “Crown Jewel” series.

The Hepplewhite Crown Jewel Grand

The Hepplewhite Crown Jewel Grand

I pointed out the exquisite workmanship, the exotic veneer as well as the sublime sound and action. I asked the daughter to play. I told them of the uniqueness that is inherent in each Steinway. The journey each instrument takes during the thirteen months necessary to craft a grand piano. They were enchanted, thrilled, enamored… But…

In low tones they conversed in their native language which I had learned was Thai. The discussion became more animated and eventually the father turned to me and explained. “We love this instrument, but it is just too large for our daughter’s dorm room. We must look at uprights.”

We took the elevator back to the first floor, and I led them to a Steinway Sheraton upright that had accompanied the Crown Jewel S into our inventory. It was also an North American Cherry Hepplewhite design, and, in a matter of moments, was unanimously chosen to be the new instrument for their daughter’s college residence.

As I sat with the father preparing the paperwork, I mused out loud as to how unfortunate it was that the room could not accommodate the desired grand. How evident it was that they truly loved the sound, the look, the style. It was an instrument that was destined to become an heirloom for the family that owned it.

He looked at me, paused and then asked, “Can the grand piano by packed so that it could be transported safely by ship?” Why, “yes” I explained, “this is easily done.”   He informed that they had been purchasing some furniture and other items while in the states. They had a container that would be leaving from New York Harbor in about ten days to carry these items back to Thailand. “Can you have it delivered to the container he asked?” Why, “yes” I proclaimed with rising enthusiasm. “Well then I believe we would like not one, but two Steinway & Sons Crown Jewel instruments today.” “Why not!” I exclaimed!

He then handed me a visa and said, “charge it”. I looked at the small piece of plastic in my hand. I looked at the rather large number on the purchase agreement. I looked back at the small card in my hand, and slowly made my way to the credit card terminal. I swiped the card. I typed in the rather large amount. I waited for the “call center” or the “are you crazy” message, and was shocked when seconds later the approval code appeared and the receipt began to print from the machine.

I could not contain my curiosity. Mr. Pradipasen, what is it you do? (The card had cleared so quickly?).

“I am in banking,” he explained as he handed me his card. And indeed he was, for Mr. Pradipasen was, in fact, the Director and Senior Executive Vice President of the Siam Commercial Bank!!!

The City of Bangkok

The City of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River

So it was perhaps only a month or two later that from the harbor of Bangkok, Thailand there set forth a rider, perhaps not upon a horse, but likely on a bike as is so common in that country. A rider who rode through the streets of the city proclaiming “a Steinway is coming, a Steinway is coming”. Yes, sometimes it may only be one if by land, but if you are lucky perhaps it can be two if by sea.

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