Rice Krispies Weather—and How I Got My Hat Trademark!

By on 15 December, 2010 in Sandra Nickel with 1 Comment

It was below 20 degrees last night in Montgomery. And perhaps colder than that in Midtown since our heavy tree cover — a real blessing in the hell heat of summer — may have shaded our sun-absorbing hard surfaces like streets and sidewalks.

So what’s the big deal, you say? Well, my team and I call this “Rice Krispies weather.” If you listen closely on bitterly cold days and nights, you can just about hear the snap … crackle … and pop of pipes bursting!

It was in weather even colder than this (single digits, I seem to recall) in early January 1982 that I as a new REALTOR decided to canvass my neighborhood to introduce myself and see if anyone was thinking about buying, selling or investing in real estate. My husband and I had been in our Garden District home only a year, and we had not met many of the folks on our block.

Because we had returned to Montgomery from the frigid North, I still had a heavy winter coat. So I donned it, a muffler, my fur-lined gloves and set out down our street. Even in the early 1980’s, most households in our middle-class neighborhood were dual-income families, so it took awhile to find someone at home. Finally, a gentleman — Ken Teasley was his name — opened his door, took one look at me and motioned me inside.

“What in the world are you doing out in that cold,” he asked incredulously. “Just getting to know my neighbors and letting them know I sell real estate,” I replied. “Well, you just stay right here,” he instructed me. Then he disappeared for a few moments and returned with a brown tweed Fedora-style hat — almost a perfect match for my brown tweed wool coat.

He plopped that hat right down on my head and implored earnestly, “Now you just keep that hat on your head until the weather warms up. Otherwise, you’re going to get pneumonia and die, and no one will care that you sold real estate!” So off I went down the street, hat on head.

The winter of 1982 was particularly raw, and it was many weeks later before truly warm weather returned to our normally temperate city. And in the intervening weeks, a funny thing happened: My office reported receiving calls from folks who said things like, “I don’t remember her name, but I was to speak to that lady in the hat.”

I was not nearly clever enough to have conceived what has been a very effective trademark. But I was smart enough to realize that I had accidentally — thanks to the late Ken Teasley — come upon a terrific marketing device. And so is the story behind the Hat Lady and her hat.

Rice Krispies, anyone?

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 29 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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  1. Jay Croft says:

    Aha! Your secret is revealed!

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