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Thursday, September 06, 2012

First Eleven Dollars and Thirty Cents

It was a blazing afternoon, one of those rare dry-hot summer days we get here. Only so much of splashing about in the little inflatable pool helps, after which, a compulsory shutdown happens when the body just wants to vegetate.

Not the mind, though. There was a sizzling of energy as a virtual light-bulb flashed its existence over Ana's head revealing the determined look of a girl with a purpose.

Step stool and basket in hand, she went to the backyard; ten minutes later, reappeared with the basket full of plums, minus the step stool, and proceeded to meticulously sort and wash the plums, pat them dry, and count them.

"Wow, I can make 28$ if I sell each plum for 1$", she squealed, puffing up with the exuberance only a child can muster.

Bursting her bubble was a tad bit heart-breaking, I admit, but needed to be done - there is no point in raising false hopes and removing the reality. "I wouldn't pay one whole dollar for one of those tiny plums, Ana, and I don't think that is a fair price for it."

Finally, from 28$ for the basket full, the young mind shifted enough to accept $2.80, if only she can spread the word and make the sale.

A driven young girl disappeared into her room for a while and came out with a scrap piece of paper with the words, "Home Garden Plums 10c each", requesting some help with making a bigger sign to put up on the street corner.

Scary though it may be, being tough and strict comes rather easily to me at times (especially with my little girl) so I drove a hard bargain: "I'll draw the picture for the sign, but you must make the rest of the sign. And if you make at least 15$ from all your sales, 5$ of it must be set aside for charity." And we discussed a few options of which OHS (Oregon Humane Society) was settled upon as the beneficiary, if at all.

Chalk pastel plum tree came about in 5 minutes as I sipped tea, and the suggestion to throw in "Organic" and "Italian" was dutifully incorporated, and the sign was ready within 20 minutes.

"We can make a copy and put it in our front yard too!" cheeped the happy voice, eyeing the sign with a mixture of joy, hope, and pride.

How to canvass the buyers?

Not being business-minded (would have had an etsy store by now if I was), Papa was brought in to counsel the budding entrepreneuse. "Diversify. Sell apples and plums, give people a choice."

After nailing the sign on a tree on our street, a copy of it was pinned to the home-made felt board and placed strategically in our front yard.

Of course, living on a quiet street does have its disadvantages in situations like these. Not much foot traffic. Not many eyeballs on the sign. But, the girl persevered, waiting patiently under the umbrella for about 2 and a half hours, with home garden plums and Jonagold apples.

After which, I felt sorry for her and suggested to leave the signs out but close up shop. "People would know to knock on our door and ask for it if they want it", I added reassuringly.

And so it was, that the next day, when she was out attending camp, an anonymous buyer stopped by seeing the inviting sign and bought 10 plums and 2 apples for $1.30. (No points for guessing this anon. buyer.)

Her first sale! And she wasn't even there. (Thankfully!)

As luck would have it, in a few days, her uncle stopped by - first time in over a year - with no inkling of any impending sales pitch, hoping to drop something off for us to deliver to somebody else. He generously bought 10$ worth of plums that she had restocked!

(The said uncle, of course, had disposable income having recently won a few hundred dollars in video poker, but, he could've easily bought just $1 worth and left it at that.)

So, there she was with her first eleven dollars and thirty cents from her little enterprise!

A short vacation intervened and sales dropped abruptly. And then, school started.

So, finally, a few days ago, the sign on the tree was reluctantly pulled down knowing there won't be many more buyers, or many more plums for that matter.

I could sense a mixture of desperation and euphoria as she clutched the beautiful sign - desperation to reach the 20$ goal she had set for herself and euphoria at having made a whopping 10$ in one sale (which seemed a highly unlikely scenario when she set out.)

I hope next year when you see a young entrepreneuse or entrepreneur with a hand-made sign and wholesome goods to sell, you'll be moved to encourage their passion.

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At 6:03 PM, Blogger sandhya said...

Lovely! The first earnings are always special, aren't they? I'm reminded of my daughter's lemonade stall this summer.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Sandhya:: Thanks! You are so right - first earnings are special, particularly when she has already spent the expected earnings on some lofty plans - in her mind, of course :)


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