Friday, April 13, 2007

Raising money: kid style

'Maybe we should have a garage sale,' I mused to F, as we ambled our way home from the milk bar.

While I was in Mexico, his father had taken him to the pub and set him up as a busker, raising money for his World Vision child. His father has also, in the past, taken him to the local newsagent and encouraged him to ask them to sell his hand-made comics for $2 each. And then ask the newsagent every week if they had sold any yet, or ask why they're not displayed on the counter. (The Husband felt so sorry for the newsagent - who was across the road from his bookstore - that he snuck in there one day and bought the comics to give them some peace.)

So, I wasn't surprised when F announced that he was going to sell the seashells he found on the beach yesterday for $2 each.
'We won't find any customers on our street' he told me. 'You'll need to take me to the pub.'
'I'm sorry, but no one will buy those shells for $2. And we're not selling shells at the pub. It's not quite the same as playing your guitar at the pub for World Vision.'

F reappeared with his guitar.
'Let's go to the pub. I want to raise money for [World Vision child]. He doesn't have any Lego.'
'I'm sorry F, but no. We're not asking people we don't know for money.'


I remember how my cousin and I used to haul her white plastic ghettoblaster onto the suburban council strip, turn up the volume, and dance and sing - hats laid upside down on the grass.
'Do you have any change?' my cousin once called to a neighbour scurrying by.
'No, sorry.'
Ten minutes later, the neighbour scurried past again, head down, bulging shopping bag in hand.
'NOW DO YOU HAVE ANY CHANGE? We'll do a dance and sing for you!'
He stopped and dropped fifty cents into one of the hats.
'I'll pay you NOT to dance and sing' he muttered as he hurried off.
My aunt was mortified when she caught us.

I guess that now I'm my aunt - or my mum (who would have been equally embarassed).


'Wait a minute' says F, as I head for the front door, wrestling with a dog lead in each hand. He is leaning a piece of white paper against the wall, writing intently with his new lead pencil. 'I'm going to sign people up to the [Surname] Corporation.'
I watch him write 'name' and 'phone number' and picture him handing these out on the street. I know what he's doing. He's going to ask them to sign up to donate money.
'I'm sorry, you can't do that. You can't ask people to give you their details and send you money.'
'Why not? That man did it to you yesterday.'
He watched me sign up to Amnesty International yesterday on the main street of Yarravile. The 'man', a twentysomething who talked enthusiastically about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie - which we were on our way to see - had stopped us as we walked by on our route to the cinema. F had been very curious about why I would agree to give $15 per month (every bit counts) to a man on the street.

'Amnesty International and World Vision are not just people on the street. They're groups that help people.'
'I'm forming a corporation. I'm going to help [World Vision child].'
'Yes, but people know those groups. They know that the money will go to poor people. I know you'll give the money to [World Vision child], but they don't know that.'

He is deflated, thoughtful, on the short walk to the milk bar. He drags his hand along the fences we pass, lets his designated dog pull ahead, leading him like a horse dragging a cart.
'How would I get a job in advertisements?' he asks, suddenly.
'Um, you have to go to a modelling agency. Why?'
'I need money! I really want some Bionicle Battle Machines.'
'I thought you needed money for [World Vision child]. Was some of that money going to be for you?'
'Only a bit of it.'

I tell him that he can save his pocket money, that maybe he can do some extra chores.
'Models have to sit nicely and their pictures taken' I tell him. 'You hate smiling for the camera, don't you?'
Thank god.

On our way back from the milk bar - drinks in hand, milk in my satchel - I suddenly blurt it out: 'Maybe we should have a garage sale.'

I do have green garbage bags full of old clothes and toys piled on the verandah. I don't mean to reinforce the message that he can sell things to get toys - it's more that he's given me an idea.

'You could get a lot of money for that mattress under your bed' F observes, sagely.
'I could make up little bags of my toys, like they do at Savers. I have four Action Men and an Action Man top and an Action Man vest I don't want. I could make Action Man packs!'
I am a little disturbed by his savvy marketing idea.

'How will people come?'
'I'll put an ad in the paper.'
'Mum, if you have Microsoft Word, you can make signs on the computer. And we can put them up on poles. Do you have Microsoft Word?'
'I do.'
'We can say: Boys! Get Your Action Man!'
'And Mum, I have a great idea for a sign.'
'Is it your wife's birthday? Have you got her a present? Come here! We have unwanted jumble for every kind.'

I'll say it again: I am disturbed by his savvy marketing mind. Even if it is a bit misguided.


genevieve said...

It's the birth of a salesman, I think. (Though they are all sales-wise and weary these days.)
It is not completely unfashionable (even in these times) to sell lemonade in the holidays. Well, okay, it might be.

redcap said...

Ahahahaha! "Unwanted jumble for every kind"! That's pure gold :)

susoz said...

I enjoyed reading that as I have very similar conversations with mine. My son and a friend actually went out onto the street in front of our house and busked, unknown to us! They took some musical instruments and a hat with them. They made about 50c which they said was for the African child my son's class supports, though I lost track of whether it actually made it there, I have to confess.

Ariel said...

F does ask me to make lemonade, Genevieve - I just can't stand to watch him spoon the sugar in. Urgh!
But yeah, he's a born salesman.

RC - I know! - as a wife I would be thrilled if my husband got me a birthday present of 'unwanted jumble'.

Susoz - Thanks! Ah ... so they do still busk on the street behind parents' backs these days? And it's not just my boy wanting to raise money.

Nai said...

Disturbing, sure. Though the fact I find it cute is infinitely worse.

Anonymous said...

I can guess who the cousin and aunty were. I suppose I was close enough at the time that I should have noticed - I'm glad I didn't see that at the time! (Dad)