1. Making money is HARD.
We first set up shop on the avenue by our small street. We made a big sign that said “Toy Sale.” Tons of traffic cruising by. Grassy lawn full of kids. We laid the toys out on a blanket: beaded necklaces, a giant Spider-Man figurine, toy cars and trucks and a slew of Elmo DVDs they’d outgrown.
And we sat. And smiled. And watched cars drive by. And smiled. And organized the toys on the blanket. And colored in the sign to make it darker and more easily read by cars driving by.
Finally(!) a friend walks by with his 4-year-old son. Surely he’ll take pity on our already deflated egos and throw us a buck. Nope. “We have enough toys, thanks.”
Next a pack of tweens walk buy chewing gum and giggling. “What’s going on here?” a tenacious girl asks. “Toy sale,” we all say with a gentle smile. “Oh man,” she says, “We don’t really have any money.” (I believe her. They don’t give off any form of the “my parents give me a regular allowance” vibe.) “Can I have anything for free?” she asks. Looking at our massive spread of toys and no sale, I let them all take a beaded necklace. We have about 15 of them and as the day was going, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t sell any.
My son looks at me with giant green eyes. “Mom, have we made any money yet?”
“No,” I tell him, actually glad to be in the middle of this so far really challenging experience.
“Making money requires an extraordinary amount of effort. That’s why it’s so important that we value what we buy.” (Mom: check. Good lesson for the day.)
2. You have to go where the customers are.
I realized that we’d located in the wrong place. Just four blocks south was an area of our residential neighborhood with a coffee shop, a few restaurants and a Wawa (Philadelphia’s brand of 7-Elevens).
Now feel me for a second: Walking, while carrying a giant rolled-up sign, two giant bags of toys, while ushering a 4 year old and 7 year old across busy traffic after one full hour of failed, demoralizing sales, sucks. But I was on a mission to convert those damn toys to dollars. And so we pressed on.
We set up our used toy store (aka blanket) right outside the convenience store, in an alcove of an empty storefront. Suddenly, we had customers! An adorable tattooed man and his spiky-haired lady friend stopped with a huge smile. “We have a 2 year old at home and he would love this toy tractor. How much?” A dollar I said.
My kids erupt with joy. Wow, this making money thing can be fun. (Mommy lesson No. 2.)