Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives On

Yesterday was gorgeous. My peeps were happily playing with a bucket of water and some rocks while I laid, bare-belly to get some sun, on our outdoor swing with my eyes closed for a few precious minutes.

Then I heard planning.

Addie: "Let's sell our rocks!"
Ryan: "Yeah! A rock stand!"
Addie: "How much should they cost?"
Ryan: "Uhhhhh, I think $2 is good."
Addie: "No. Let's make them $10. $10 is better. People buy things for $10 usually."
Ryan: {sighs} "Ok."
Addie: "You take the rocks over there {points to front yard} and I'll go make the sign! Oh, and Ryan?"
Ryan: "Yes?"
Addie: "Get a box too. We need a table!"

So Ryan grabs a moving box from the garage and takes their rocks to the sidewalk in front of our house. Meanwhile, Addie is inside making a sign to tape on the box stating that they have "Rocks for Sale $10 each".

Meanwhile....I'm over on the swing, trying as hard as I can to keep from busting out laughing.

You see, as my children are having this hysterical conversation and are working up their excitement over all the money they're going to make selling brown rocks from behind our garage, a certain memory from my own childhood arose in my mind. At about the same ages (8 & 10), my brother Brandon and I got the brilliant idea one summer day that we needed to sell empty rifle casings as "bullet whistles" to the people driving down our road. We just knew people would think it ingenious to use the metal rifle casings and blow into them like a coke bottle to make a whistle and that everyone who drove by was sure to buy from us. (Granted, our bullet whistles were 50 cents apiece, I think; not $10 like my children's overpriced rocks.)

Brandon and I gathered up our bullet whistles, some lawn chairs, and our sign and hauled them down our country lane to where our lane met the road. In the miserable summer heat, we sat there for hours, just waiting for a car to pass by.

We sold one whistle and quit.

After Ryan and Addie quickly sold their first rock for $2 (not $10), they became discouraged after a while for lack of business.

Ever the optimist, Addie tries to up their business by offering their customers an incentive: free water for washing their rocks.

Grabbing the mop bucket they were using before opening their rock stand, she fills it with new water and then goes back in the house to make yet another sign to tape onto the bucket: "Free water for washing rocks!"

She set this up next to Ryan and the rocks on the sidewalk and they continued to wait.

They never sold another rock. With long faces, they came inside to get ready for supper. They were so sure this get-rich-quick plan was going to work. I did, however, encourage them that they were each $1 richer than when they started, which seemed to ease the pain a bit. ;)

What is it about our children that makes them want to earn something the way their parents do? As a young girl, my mother was probably rolling in the floor, laughing at my brother and I for believing we could turn a profit selling bullet whistles. She knew the idea was ridiculous, yet she didn't try to stop us, just as I kept my mouth shut and didn't even attempt to tell my kids that selling rocks, clean or not, was not going to take them very far.

But why? Why do children want to do what they can to earn money? Lemonade stands, rock stands, bullet whistle stands...all are a means to what our children see (and we as children saw) as fantastic ideas of owning our their businesses and making their way in the world.

Entrepreneurialism and the free market live on.


Becky Dietz said...

I love their optimism!!

Lindsey Shaklee said...

Hi Lindsey, your post is adorable! I had to comment and tell you my name is also Lindsey and my Brother's name is Brandon. Just thought it was crazy- but the names do go well together I suppose:)