A Salesman’s First Sale

A Salesman’s First Sale

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

A Salesman’s First Sale

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Mark Twain

I hurried home one Saturday afternoon in the fall of 1993 to try to get some much-needed yard work done. While raking leaves, my five-year-old son, Nick, came over and pulled on my pants leg. “Dad, I need you to make me a sign,” he said.

“Not now, Nick, I’m real busy,” was my reply.

“But I need a sign,” he persisted.

“What for, Nick?” I asked.

“I’m going to sell some of my rocks,” was his answer.

Nick has always been fascinated with rocks and stones. He’s collected them from all over, and people bring them to him. There is a basket full of rocks in the garage that he periodically cleans, sorts and restacks. They are his treasures. “I don’t have time to mess with it right now, Nick. I have to get these leaves raked,” I said. “Go have your mom help you.”

A short while later, Nick returned with a sheet of paper. On it, in his five-year-old handwriting, were the words “ON SALE TODAY, $1.00.” His mom had helped him make his sign, and he was now in business. He took his sign, a small basket and four of his best rocks and walked to the end of our driveway. There he arranged the rocks in a line, set the basket behind them and sat down. I watched from the distance, amused at his determination.

After half an hour or so, not a single person had passed by. I walked down the drive to see how he was doing. “How’s it going, Nick?” I asked.

“Good,” he replied.

“What’s the basket for?” I asked.

“To put the money in,” was his matter-of-fact answer.

“How much are you asking for your rocks?”

“A dollar each,” Nick said.

“Nick, nobody will pay you a dollar for a rock.”

“Yes, they will!”

“Nick, there isn’t enough traffic on our street for people to see your rocks. Why don’t you pack these up and go play?”

“Yes, there is, Dad,” he countered. “People walk and ride their bikes on our street for exercise, and some people drive their cars to look at the houses. There’s enough people.”

Having failed to convince Nick of the futility of his efforts, I went back to my yard work. He patiently remained at his post. A short while later, a mini-van came driving down the street. I watched as Nick perked up, holding his sign up and pointing it at the van. As it slowly passed, I saw a young couple craning their necks to read his sign. They continued on around the cul-de-sac and as they approached Nick again, the lady rolled down her window. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but she turned to the man driving and I could see him reaching for his billfold! He handed her a dollar and she got out of the van and walked over to Nick. After examining the rocks, she picked up one, gave Nick the dollar and then drove off.

I sat in the yard, amazed, as Nick ran up to me. Waving the dollar, he shouted, “I told you I could sell one rock for a dollar—if you believe in yourself, you can do anything!” I went and got my camera and took a picture of Nick and his sign. The little guy had held tough to his belief and delighted in showing what he could do. It was a great lesson in how not to raise children, but we all learned from it and talk about it to this day.

Later that day, my wife, Toni, Nick and I went out to dinner. On the way, Nick asked us if he could have an allowance. His mom explained that an allowance must be earned and we would have to determine what his responsibilities would be. “That’s okay,” said Nick, “how much will I get?”

“At five years old, how about a dollar a week?” said Toni.

From the backseat came, “A dollar a week—I can make that selling one rock!”

Rob, Toni and Nick Harris

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