Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 The Stand
M. Edium's always looking for ways to raise a little cash, whether it's doing household chores or trying to sell his parents' stuff to other people, so it's only natural that he wanted to open a lemonade stand. Except for how we live across the street from a high school. And except for how he decided to do it in the morning while the kids were on their way in. And except for how he figured that on a chilly October morning, he'd have better luck selling coffee and cocoa instead of lemonade. Such a genius idea I wish I'd thought of it.
But like any venture capitalists, Trash and I were only too happy to subsidize the genius of someone else. So a few weeks ago, on a regular Costco run, M. Edium and I picked up a big bag of coffee, a big box of cocoa pouches, and a few hundred fuzzy coffee cups. I made some cookie dough, so he could sell cookies as well. And then there was too much other stuff going on that week so we blew it off. 99% of success in business is not bothering when it's too inconvenient, you know.
But finally, we decided to go ahead a couple of Fridays later, when all we had going on that week was his birthday on Tuesday and his birthday party the next day and our jobs and some unfinished home-improvement projects and a minor skirmish in the northern suburbs. And so it was that before the sun was up, I was threading together extension cords from the back of the neighbor's house on the corner (who leased M. Edium the retail space for one dollar, although he didn't know he was getting the dollar until later) to the long folding table I'd borrowed from our other neighbors. Trash had her new 60-cup coffee machine up and running, and a Tupperware cash box pre-stocked with plenty of singles and quarters (all items had the same price point of 50 cents), and I'd baked three dozen cookies the night before (saving the rest of the dough for making warm cookies in the morning). I was still bringing stuff out there when I saw M. Edium talking to his first customer in the minutes before the sun came up. Fortunately it was his aunt, so I don't think the lack of preparedness harmed business.
We had also gotten our neighbors up the street involved, the ones with a daughter who's a year younger than M. Edium. They made the cocoa and the Rice Krispies bars, which they brought down in a wagon after the sun was up. "Oh, wait, there's no school today," the dad said. Fortunately he was joking.
The first customers were actually grown-ups; school faculty and employees who weren't all that interested in getting their change back (especially upon seeing the sign reading "50% of all proceeds go to charity"). Which was good, because the kids didn't seem to be coming through.
I blame myself for this. I had meant to print out and post signs around the block notifying the kids who walked to school that there would be treats for sale at our corner that morning, but didn't get around to it until the previous afternoon. As a result, most of the teenagers left for school without having carefully budgeted the extra time and cash to shop with us, as I know they otherwise would have.
I didn't stick around for long, because with two moms on hand to handle the cash and food while the kids acted as barkers (arguing a bit about which of them got to go after the cars and which of them got to go after the pedestrians), there wasn't much need for me. But after school started and I went back out to help pack up, I saw that M. Edium is the kind of merchant who stands behind his product. Which is to say that he had spilled cocoa all down the front of his sweatshirt.
I also learned that the gross for the morning was $37.68 (not sure where the extra 18 cents came from). So rounding up, that meant ten bucks to each of the kids and twenty to Second Harvest, because we rounded up. And that's gross, not profit, because after laying out for the ingredients and the new coffee pot, we actually spent about twice that. But that's the venture capitalists' problem, not the entrepreneurs'.
Still, it's just as well that he'll probably be a scientist instead. posted by M. Giant 5:13 PM 2 comments
M.Edium needs one of these: http://www.slashfood.com/2010/10/28/Bike-caffe-food-trucks-for-coffee/
Congratulations to M. Edium in his first (?) venture. He's quite impressive, but I think most of the credit goes to you and Trash for supporting his "dream".