Entrepreneurial Beginnings

my siblings and i were entrepeneurs at a young age. i don’t know what made us think there were riches to be had among our own ranks, but that didn’t stop us from focusing our money-making endeavors within our close-knit circle.

not only did we play marbles voraciously on the floral oriental rug-covered parqet floor in the entryway, favoring the large, shiny spheres (as opposed to the smaller, cat’s-eye specimens); we also rallied on the royal blue rug under the dining room table and traded Easter candy, approaching the bartering of items with a solemnity almost laughable considering it was mere sugar at stake. Ah, but when you have a chocolate crispy coin paired up against a white chocolate cross, the uniqueness and almost collector’s item-aura of the latter beats out the former, demanding a raise in the offer (say, three chocolate coins with different centers and pictures on the foil wrappers, or a different candy altogether – mini jelly beans being the weakest of offerings).

as early as five years old, ranging all the way to age ten among the five of us, i remember assembling in our basement at the time. the exact layout escapes me now, as most of our childhood was spent in another home, but i vividly recall that each one had his or her own station – much like at a flea market – along one or two couches. there we amassed all manner of items to sell, our favorite wares being our beloved stuffed animals. these went for five or ten cents each, although i’m sure on more than one occasion my older siblings tooks advantage of my young naivete, giving me a solitary dull penny for a delightul furry creature what was worth at least a nickel. i always felt sad after such an exchange, knowing i’d hurt the feelings of my inanimate friends, and purposed to retrieve them on the next round. if we were so unlucky as to have empty pockets on sale day, or thought perhaps better judgement would rear its ugly head and we would later regret a purchase, we were allowed to adopt an item.

thus ensued a constant trade and circling of our stuffed animals, a theme which would remain popular as we grew older. one day a number of years later, my twin brother and i decided to have a yard sale. the poor, unsuspecting folks who happened upon our measly sign and were able to find our house at the end of a long driveway would be met with a lounge chair (not for sale), on top of which were laid out a number of rather shabby toys. oh, would that i have known what utter embarassment was at the time! one lady who drove up was – in hindsight – rather miffed at our interpretation of a yard sale, but proceeded nonetheless to buy something. success!

one of my most notable financial escapades was “sweet treats,” involving what would eventually become a life-long vice: candy! we rode bikes a lot growing up, and one of our favorite destinations was what we called the corner store. i don’t know if that was the official name of the establishment, and since then it has been home to a number of different venues, but at the time it was a convenience store of sorts. there was a fridge in the back that offered bottled soda (mm, birch beer), and a front counter behind which was displayed all manner of candy. we spent our hard-earned money on bags of said confections (pink canadian mints, fire balls, malted milk balls, jolly ranchers), rolls of mint chocolate hubba bubba gum, and bonkers. upon returning home, i would empty each type of candy into separate bowls or containers, displaying them on a tray table right in the kitchen, near the door leading to the basement – a veritable hub of activity, bound to attract business. i put little signs next to each candy noting the price, and tried to snag every unsuspecting body that walked by. more often than not, i ended up sitting there by myself, methodically sampling the wares.

as we got older, we were allowed to do chores for money, and eventually had to learn that some tasks needed to be done without reimbursement just to keep the household running smoothly. the unfairness of it all! but that’s life, and i like to think some of those earlier lessons instilled a curious, creative, responsible foundation that prompted some of the more legitimate undertakings: focusing on my studies, making jewlery, decorating wedding cakes, and taking my work seriously. although i still enjoy sitting back with a bag of easter candy all to myself – the black and red jelly beans now a favorite.