Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How to make money with rhododendron leaves!

This post at Get Rich Slowly reminded me of my own entrepreneurial spirit as a kid. I don't remember this myself, but my mother says that when I was about four, I plucked some leaves from a neighbor's rhododendron and drew faces on them with a Sharpie. Then, I peddled my creations round the neighborhood for five cents each. That's a lot of money for a four year old! I probably sold pretty well since I was so cute. *wink* When I got a little older, I made paper accessories like hats and purses, decorated with Steelers stickers from my grandfather, for a toy rabbit that I had, and sold them to my neighbors for ten cents. Why I thought my neighbors would like to buy a paper purse for a rabbit they didn't own, I have no idea. But they did buy them anyway.

One of my most memorable experiences in selling was when I decided that I would sell some of the chives from my humongous chive plant in my part of the garden. (The garden was divided into four small plots - theoretically one for each member of the family, but my father and I each had one and my mother and sister's were taken over by sunflowers.) I put up a sign on a streetlight post that advertised one ounce of chives for 25 cents. I thought that was pretty good, and I would get several customers from my chive plant. Unfortunately, I didn't actually check how much an ounce is - and you may know that chive stems are hollow. So for my first customer, I pretty much decimated the plant getting up to an ounce on the kitchen scale. Oops. You could chalk that up as a lesson in accurate pricing.

I also ran a lemonade stand frequently, and one time I got really lucky - the people across the street were selling their house (which was GORGEOUS) and had an open house. Over 100 people showed up on that one day, and of course most of them bought lemonade from me as I was conveniently situated right across a one-lane street. Although the lemonade sold for ten cents, most of the adults gave me a quarter and some even gave me a dollar and told me to "keep the change." WOW!! That's a big ROI if I ever saw one. (Of course, my parents bought the lemonade mix, but who's counting.) That was definitely the most exciting day of my lemonade-selling enterprise. When I was older, I drew up plans for a wooden, folding lemonade stand with a sign and counter and everything - it would have involved a lot of hinges and probably would have weighed 100lbs. I settled for using house paint to make a "Lemonade 25 cents" sign on scrap wood which my father later hung in the living room as pop art.

When I wanted money to buy something, my parents tried to give me options for earning it, instead of simply handing it over. Once I held my own little yard sale (mostly of my parents' old things - I think I sold some records) in order to raise $20 to buy a Troll doll. (Gimme a break, I was probably seven or eight!) I also came up with my own chore chart of chores outside of my normal routine, for which I negotiated a quarter. The chart was quite specific about how many times a month I could do the chore (such as washing the dog once a month) and whether my sister could also do the chore. I don't think my sister was terribly excited, but in a few weeks I had done a couple dollars worth of (extra) chores and my parents put a halt on that, lest I come up with new and exciting chores like reroofing the house.

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