Sales are always a big accomplishment, especially to a child, when making his or her first dollar. Back in the spring of 1975, my parents had just sold our family restaurant and party store in Otsego, because they received an offer they couldn’t refuse. Whatever goods hadn’t been sold were stored in the bedroom, in the basement of our house. Being a curious little girl, I went into there were the goods were stored, and I was so happily surprised to see all the packs of gum left over, because they hadn’t been sold. Back then they were bigger, because the sticks of gum were bigger. I took a pack from there one morning with me to school, primarily so I could enjoy some gum through my school day.
I was 5 ½ years old, and in Kindergarten, at the time. I happened to be chewing some gum discretely, because gum wasn’t allowed in school. I was opening it in the doll corner, where at the time the play area was referred to. I thought I was alone when a little boy from my class caught sight of me putting some gum into my mouth, and said, “Where did you get the gum?”
I thought I was done for. However, I was upfront with him, and told him I brought it from home, where my parents have lots more gum from our party store stored.
He said to me, “I’m willing to pay you for a stick of gum. Any amount you want, within reason, of course.”
“How about $1.00?” I asked, while putting the pack of gum back into my pocket.
“A dollar sounds like a good bargain,” he replied while reaching into his pocket, pulling out the bill and handing it over to me.
We made the exchange. The both of us were completely satisfied with our transaction. I was proud of myself, because it was the first dollar I had ever earned. I thought to myself, This is a great business. I can’t believe it. I actually established a business.
Word got around the class room, and the rest of the kids of the class were approaching me about buying a stick of gum. There were only 30 sticks to a pack, and I only had one pack of gum on me that day. I sold 29 sticks that day in school, making a total of $29.00.
It would have been 30 sticks of gum sold if I hadn’t eaten the one. However, it was okay, because the stick of gum I was in the process of putting in my mouth was what started it all.
For the student’s who weren’t able to purchase gum on the day I brought the first pack, I promised I’d bring another pack the next day. On day two, I made $30.00. On the days following I kept accumulating $30.00 per day. Soon, I sold over 300 sticks of gum. It was precisely 329 sticks of gum, and by the end of the school year, I accumulated a total of $329.00.
My dad happened to go downstairs into the basement where the merchandise from our party store was kept, and discovered the packs of gum missing. When he asked me where they went to. I told him the truth, “I sold them.”
“What do you mean you sold them?” he asked sternly, not believing me at first.
“I mean I sold them and made money off of them at $1.00 a stick. Look!” I said while pulling all the bills out of my pocket, and handed him the money.
“There’s $329.00 here. You’ve done very good,” he said, while smiling and handing the money back to me, “You can use this money when you come with your mother and me on the trip to Greece.”
“It would have been 330 sticks of gum sold, but I ate the one from the first pack. This was how I got the business started. A little boy who was my classmate saw me eating a piece, and offered to pay for a stick of gum, because he want a stick so badly,” I explained with a disappointed look on my face.
“That’s alright. Don’t worry about the stick of gum you ate. Remember, that was the piece that got your business started. If it wasn’t for you to eat that piece, the other student wouldn’t have known you had any gum on you. That was how you sparked interest in him to want to buy some gum from you. I’m proud of you. Five years old, and you’ve made $329.00 in cash as a salesperson,” he said, while sending me out of the room.
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015