I was one of the fortunate few invited to the opening of a brand new franchise, "Eye-Tooth".
The franchise of 12 shops are owned by Jacob Dereki, a successful mime artist from a village just outside of Giza, Egypt. The concept of the franchise is to allow the trading of eyes and teeth, but the most novel twist of "Eye-Tooth" is the sales method involved.
Money not welcome
The first thing I noticed at the London Eye-Tooth was a sign on the door. It said, quite clearly: "Money Not Welcome".
The sign defines the very business model of the Eye-Tooth franchise, and that is that neither money, cash nor moolah are a viable currency in an Eye-Tooth shop.
"We are a very different kind of shop," said Jacob Dereki who has a strong Egyptian accent but speaks remarkably good English "We sell eyes and teeth, and the only payments we accept...are eyes and teeth."
"So, if I wanted to buy a glass eye for my grandmother?"
"You could do that. But I would be needing another eye from you in return."
"Or a tooth?"
"No, we only exchange like for like."
"Right. How about if I tried to give you an eye...right...of a needle? Because that would be, y'know, a hole, really, wouldn't it?"
"Ha, ha. You are most enjoyable - humourwise. No, you could not purchase an eye for your grandmother by giving me a hole. No sir."
"Right. Right. Well, how about a cat's eye then - could I exchange that?"
"The eye of a cat would be fine. If, on the other hand, you are continuing to tickle me with your ribaldry, and are referring instead to the shiny devices on your roadways, then no. I could not accept that either. I see your mind is fizzing with the desire to think of an object using the word 'tooth' that is not really a tooth. Do not try. Only a true tooth could I trade with you."
Dereki is a smart arse Egyptian shop keeper. His business model is likely to fail, mostly because when it comes down to it - his exchange idea just does not work. It only causes resentment and hatred. I have already succomb to those feelings.
Eye-Tooth is now open in: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Paris, Hamburg, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Sao Paolo, Giza and Rome.