Thursday, April 22, 2010

The entrepreneurial force is strong in this one.

This one.

This one has an entrepreneurial spirit.

This one would sell snow to a polar bear.

Or at least he'd try.

Three years ago when he was five, I found him in his bedroom, sitting cross-legged on the floor, a pen in one hand, and my mini Post-It notes in the other. A small pile of toys, mostly Matchbox cars, were scattered before him. I could see that he was writing numbers that resembled price tags and taping them to the roof of each car.

"Sweetie, what's up?"

"I've decided to sell some of my toys, Mom."

"Who are you going to sell them to?"

"Just the kids in the neighborhood. Can I set up a stand in front of the house, so when people drive by, they can stop and buy something?"

I didn't have the heart to tell him, "No," yet. I got down on the floor with him, and picked up a Matchbox car that had surely seen better days. The paint was chipped off the bumpers from having been "crashed" many times. In his best pre-school level handwriting, he had written, "1.50$" on the price tag, misplacing the dollar sign in the cutest way possible.

His face eagerly looked up at mine, waiting for the OK. I hesitated before speaking, my brain working overtime, trying to find the right words that would not crush his fragile spirit.

"Um...sweetie? Um...why did you decide to price this one at $1.50? Did you know they sell them at the store for about 89 cents?" I asked carefully.

He looked at me with a sort of "DUH" look, and I swear I saw the tiniest hint of pity for me in his 5-year old eyes. It was the kind of look that said, "Must I explain EVERYthing to this woman?"

Then he spoke. "Well Mom, if I sold them for the same price we bought them for, then I wouldn't make a profit, would I?"

Oh. Duh. Silly me. Profits.

Impressed, I asked, "How do you know about profits?"

"Daddy told me."

I was rendered momentarily speechless as I looked into his big brown eyes. I did not have the heart to teach him other, slightly more spirit-crushing words such as, "current market value" and "depreciation". That lesson in economics would have to wait.

"Can I have a toy sale, Mom? Pleeeeeeeeeaaassssse?" he begged.

As I often did when I didn't have the heart to tell one of the kids, "No," because their intentions were pure, or when I just didn't know the answer to something, I said, "Well let's see what Daddy thinks when he gets home."

Daddy. He'll have the answer to this situation.

Fortunately, by the time Daddy got home, the question was forgotten and never asked. Out of sight out of mind. A few days later, however, my boy came across his toys with the price tags. He asked again if he could sell his toys to gullible neighborhood kids who were willing to part with $1.50 from their piggy bank, in exchange for a beat-up toy that they could buy new for much less. I don't remember exactly what I said at the time, but I am fairly certain I used some excuse like, "Well, it's raining today, so why don't we talk about a sale when the weather is nicer?"

You know, some less entrepreneurial spirit-crushing answer than a flat-out, "No."

Fast forward to two days ago, Tuesday afternoon.

I was sitting at the desk in our home office, and I was about to make a photocopy. I lifted the lid to our small copy machine/printer/fax machine, and I found this.

My little entrepreneur is at it again.

If you have a difficult time reading a child's handwriting, allow me to translate. "toy sale at [our address]. we have legos, video games, and more. everthing $50 or less so Bring Your friends Bring Your Famliy."

The more I looked, the more copies of this flyer I found. I have no idea how many copies were made, nor how many copies may or may not have been distributed to unsuspecting neighbors.

First of all, no. Do not bring your friends. Do not bring your families. The contents of our playroom are not available for a bargain basement price of $50.00.

However, if you want to add a couple of zeros to that number, we can talk. Like my son, I know a thing or two about making a profit, and I also don't care about little things like current market value, or item depreciation.

I'm kinda ruthless that way.

I asked my boy about this latest moneymaking venture.

He simply answered, "I'm saving for a Super Mario Bros. game, and it's $50."

Oh. Duh. Again. Shame on me for not realizing that selling the entire contents of our playroom would be the perfect answer to this dilemma.

Fortunately, he was able to sweet-talk his two brothers into pooling all their money. They cracked open their piggy banks full of crumpled allowance money, and gifts from generous grandparents, and they came up with the $50 needed for Super Mario Bros. Galaxy or Party or whatever-the-heck-the-brothers-Mario-are-up-to-these-days.

By the way, as a side note, do not pronounce the above as, "Super Mario BROTHERS". I have been told many, many times that it is pronounced, "Super Mario BROS (rhymes with PROSE)". And smack your mouth for thinking anything else. You, as an adult, may have some book-learnin', but you know nothing about the correct pronunciation of abbreviations. Apparently.

If I can get my act together in time, which is doubtful, I will be participating in our neighborhood's garage sale in a few weeks. I have never hosted a garage sale, but I think I'm finally ready to unload some junk awesome stuff.

Please don't be surprised if you stop by our sale and notice that there is a table set up with a little boy manning it. If you look closer, please also don't be surprised that he has priced a pair of used tube socks for $6.00. Or a sea shell for $3.00. Or a ratty t-shirt for $5.00. I might not have the courage to break his little entrepreneurial heart.

Who knows? Maybe someone will fall for his schtick. His big, brown eyes might tug at their heartstrings too, and they'll say, "Can I offer you $5.00 for the tube socks?"

It could happen. As P.T. Barnum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute."


  1. Good for him! He's definitely going places!

    My favorite thing to say when approached with an impossible request is "Not today!" Works like a charm every time because it implies that the possibility is still open. :)

  2. I am a total sucker. I fall for my kid every time.

  3. Mary Beth HolycrossApril 22, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    I'm sure my little boys will have a similar table at the next garage sale: "one man's trash is another man's treasure....and it will be priced accordingly!"

  4. SO cute!!!!!!!!! I could totally see my girls doing that too. Yesterday Ash asked if she could sell all her stuffed animals so she could buy a real rabbit.


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