3. Being loud helps.
Juiced by our first sale, additional sales seemed imminent. Fortunately, this lesson I didn’t have to teach them: They rebounded to an extreme. “Toy Sale! Toy Sale! TOY SAAAAALE,” my son shouts to the pedestrians across the avenue, only to be joined in pierce pitch harmony by his younger sister. “Kids, there’s a fine line between effective self-promotion and being really grating and annoying,” I kind of mutter. But I bite my tongue.
Cars pull over, scan the loot, point and and throw dollars in our direction, which my kids enthusiastically collect in the exchange. I let them approach all of the strangers walking past us, all of whom were gracious and communicative, even if they didn’t buy. One stranger insisted on giving them each a dollar for their efforts even though she didn’t buy anything. I accepted, but won’t repeat that in the future.
4. Some customers get special deals.
A young man limped past, with a raspberry-blue slurpee in his hand, affected by what appears to be a serious physical disorder. “Toys for sale,” my kids yell enthusiastically in his face. He picks up a DVD still in a wrapper.
One dollar, says my son, already Willie Loman with locked eye contact and sparkle in his teeth. My daughter, who’s losing focus, is doing upside down flips on the bike rack by the curb, but comes running back when she sees we have a customer.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out 10 cents. I explain that it’s a deal. “But it’s a dollar, mom!” I smile and make the exchange. I explain to my kids that not everyone has the same means, but we can still make an exchange we can be happy with. Capitalism meets community engagement meets authentic connection at its finest.
5. Hard work reaps rewards.
By the end of the three hours, we’d made about $20, which I split evenly between their piggy banks. Breaking our first sale was exhausting, demoralizing and almost a complete failure, but we adjusted. We repositioned to be where the customers were. And we worked for hours to make connections with every customer and earn every dollar that came our way. The tweens got their free necklaces, the young man got a cool DVD for 10 cents and my kids made 20 new friends in our urban Philly neighborhood. My crazy idea worked.
I was proud to show my kids that earning money requires incredible effort and constant adjustments, but that success does come to those who are brave enough to shout at traffic.