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Our First Sale

Owen and I had our first sale this weekend.  Yep, a garage sale.  And what an adventure it was.  I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to introduce him to commerce and it ended up being a learning experience for both of us.

The idea for the sale came up when my wife (Kathleen) and daughter (Malia) departed last Wednesday to WI for a few nights and left us guys at home.  I had been itching to sell or give away a bunch of stuff we had stored in the garage including a crib, several strollers and a mountain bike and thought it a perfect time to do so while the “boss” was away.  And when I mentioned the possibility of having a garage sale to Owen, he immediately jumped on board and even told his teachers about it that same day.  He also told our next door neighbor, which lead me to believe he was pretty excited.  There was no turning back now.

On Friday afternoon, we began pulling things together and it only took a few minutes for us to stumble upon our first lesson – the value of used goods.  As I began moving items toward the front of the garage, I realized I had no idea how I would price them.  Even though I’ve been in sales my whole life, I’d never been responsible for putting a price tag on anything.  Owen took the first shot and said, “I’m going to sell this car for $2.00.”  I chuckled to myself, as it was a matchbox and was missing several wheels and a door.  I asked him if he would pay $2.00 for the item and he agreed that he would not.  I encourage him to find some items that other children might interested in and he headed to the neighbor’s house as they were playing outside and having some fun.  Apparently, I was on my own.

I created a spreadsheet with all the items I had hoped to sell.  I then did a search on Craigslist and used it for guidance on pricing each respective item.  I also made a column for the lowest price I would accept as I assumed there would be some negotiations.  Owen came back shortly thereafter and we collaborated on creating a dollar bucket and anything we put it there could be purchased for a buck.  After he put a flat basketball and a big piece of yellow plastic (which I think was part of a toy) I realized that these things just take a little practice.

With the garage sale scheduled for 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (we had a soccer game to attend afterward) I was up early on Saturday morning making final preparations.  When I opened the doors at 6:50 a.m., we already had our first visitor.  Owen had stayed up late the night before as he was pretty excited, and now he wasn’t budging when I told him we had customers.  He finally woke up about 20-30 minutes later and immediately had a parent interested in buying some of his books.  He sold 12 of them at 25 cents apiece and had raked in $2.50.  Once again he ran off to play in the yard and I offered a deal to a mother who wanted to buy two toys from his dollar bucket (they were not in great shape so I told her Owen would love a dollar for the two items).

After a few more customers, it was getting close to 9:00 so we picked everything up and headed out to our next event.  I told Owen about the toy sale and we determined that he had made $3.50, which was the 2nd best sale he had ever made.  (He once sold me a telescope he had made for $5.00 which made me think he’s got a bit of entrepreneur in his blood.)  All in all, it was a fun event for the both of us and made for a nice bonding experience.  I should note that he has now mentioned he wants to buy an electric Jeep Cherokee he saw at a friend’s house.  I haven’t told him yet we’re still a few hundred dollars away.  Time to plan our next garage sale!

Next: Why Entrepreneurism?

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