Pretty cowgirls help beef up sales for seasonal cattle trader

Pretty cowgirls help beef up sales for seasonal cattle trader
Mr Doni hires pretty girls in tight jeans, boots and cowboy hats to draw in customers. The outlet (above), located outside Jakarta, is a used-car showroom for the rest of the year.

INDONESIA - Every Hari Raya Haji, Muslims who can afford it will buy a goat or cow for the ritual korban, or sacrifice, and distribute the meat to the poor as an act of devotion.

Now an enterprising businessman has injected a dash of fun into the process, hiring pretty girls in tight jeans, boots and cowboy hats to draw in customers for his livestock.

Over the past two weeks, seasonal cattle trader Romdoni, 48, has sold 6,000 cows - the most since he began using cowgirls to sell cattle in 2009.

"I found that female sales staff handle customers better, especially fussy customers," Mr Doni, as he is known, told The Straits Times in his small corner office at the Korban Animal Mall in Depok, a satellite city on the outskirts of Jakarta on Monday.

The rest of the year, the air-conditioned store is a used-car showroom.

Mr Doni first saw a market for cow sales in 2004.

Seasonal goat and cow sellers usually line their animals by the roadside to attract customers.

Buyers can also hike out to a farm or, these days, order an animal online.

"At first, they called me crazy when I turned this whole area into a cow farm, with the severe stench. I just laughed, but it worked," he said.

The media attention has helped draw customers. Mr Doni has also offered smaller cows, which have slimmer profit margins, so customers need not fork out too much.

The cowgirls are armed with iPads, bearing details of the weight, age and origin of the cows.

A cow can mostly fetch anything from 12 million rupiah (S$1,300) to 50 million rupiah depending on weight.

And customers find it entertaining shopping here.

Housewife Reni Jayusman, 28, who was shopping for a cow with her husband and six-year-old son, took a family photo with several cowgirls and cows.

"We will share it on Facebook," she said. " The facility is also nice - it's air-conditioned and has pleasant service."

The store has drawn a stream of celebrities, from TV anchors to top cleric Ali Mustafa Yaqub, the imam of Jakarta's largest mosque, Istiqlal Mosque.

But Mr Doni's creative marketing did not go down well at first.

Several conservative local clerics criticised his use of cowgirls as not in line with Islamic values.

"I told them some sales attendants at shopping malls wear miniskirts. Our cowgirls are much more decent, they are well-covered," he says.

"Besides, we are in a democratic country."

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