Making practically zero sales for the rest of the week, the girls focused on building up their product inventory. By the end of the school day on Friday, Karen had managed to sell two Popsicle stick bracelets, Veronica couldn’t find any kids wanting to buy their parents a nicely crocheted potholder and Lydia hadn’t been able to sell a single thing.
When Saturday finally arrived, the girls were losing confidence in their sales techniques. They met with Mr. Wyley at noon that day, and both Veronica and Karen brought along large grocery bags filled with their products.
“Why so glum, guys?” her father wondered looking around at their downcast faces.
“Our sales are down,” Lydia explained.
“Way down,” Veronica added.
“Well do you have a plan to turn this around or are you giving up already?” And then began another dad lecture, “You know, a lot of great companies take years to develop. You’ve only been at it a couple of weeks, patience my young grasshoppers.”
“The plan is to ask Mom if she can drop us off downtown so we can see if anyone will buy from us there.”
“Ah, brilliant idea!” Her father grabbed the car keys from the kitchen counter. “Let’s give your mom the day off, I can drop you guys off there on my way to a late lunch… or… er. Early dinner? What would you call a meal in between lunch and dinner?”
The girls shared laughed over such an odd query and Veronica went to help Lydia gather her products into a large beach bag along with a couple of colorful blankets from her room.
After several moments of pondering Mr. Wyley’s question Karen offered “Linner or Dunch?”
“Ha! Good ones!” and they high fived.
On the way down the hall, Lydia popped her head into her mother’s office to let her know where she’d be and that she had her cell phone if she needed anything. Once everyone was piled into Mr. Wyley’s car, he took them on a short drive to what was considered downtown Santa Cruz. The girls could have easily walked there from Lydia’s house, but they’d made too many items to carry comfortably. He dropped the trio off at the clock tower and made them promise to check in with him by text every thirty minutes.
“We promise,” they answered as they showed him their cell phones.
“Ok, good luck! Don’t be too pushy, needy or greedy!” he said, offering some last-minute advice before he drove to the parking garage and head to his dunch.
The streets in downtown act like a triangle, with the top point being the longstanding clock tower. The smells of the tiny beach city wafted through the air as college students, hippies and grinning families roamed the sidewalks; the faint twanging of a ukulele played in their ears.
Karen leaped onto a bench nearby to size up the blocks. Shielding her eyes from the bright afternoon sun, she observed a parking garage, comic book store, bank and the back of a popular sandwich shop to the right. To the left, there were alternating popular clothing stores, coffee shops, book stores and unique restaurants.
“Let’s go to the left!” Karen commanded, pointing the way.
The troop headed down the street to the left, burdened by the heavy pile of goods. There was a nervous energy running through the group since they have never sold on such a large scale before. Stopping when just about center of everything, Lydia laid their blankets out next to a lamp post outside of a coffee shop.
Lydia’s blanket was a light maroon color with mahogany mandala and flowers on it. She laid out several bags of slime and two rows of her designer tin can pencil holders. Veronica and Karen shared a beautiful sky blue blanket with dark blue tie-dyed swirls. They laid out five rows of brightly colored pot holders and two yellow soup bowls holding button and wooden bracelets. Veronica drew out some stiff index cards and showed the girls how to fold them in half so they could display their shop’s names. They also realized they should make a pricing menu so they didn’t have to keep repeating the price over and over “in case we’re overrun with customers.”
“Which we might,” Lydia agreed, as she started to write the dollar amounts on an index card.
Her handwriting, however, was horrible and the girls snickered at her attempt.
“At least I tried!” sticking her tongue out at the other two.
Veronica picked up the cards and proceeded to make everyone a price sign. She wrote very slowly and carefully. The end result wasn’t half bad and the girls agreed to put it out.
“Um, Veronica… Do you think you can help me with my shop’s sign? I’d really appreciate it?” Lydia pleaded.
“Yes, of course! How else will anyone know what it says?”
They all laughed, Lydia a little bit less than the other girls, though she tried to see the funny side. She made a silent vow to herself that she would learn how to write beautiful script and blow them away one day when they all needed to write something. Sitting cross-legged behind their products, the girls gave awkward smiles and waved at anyone that wandered near.
Fifteen minutes passed before an elderly woman with silver hair, a floral print skirt, and flip flops strolled up to take a closer look. Eager to have their first customer, the girls were a bit overzealous when showing her what they had to offer.
“A beautiful pencil holder for all your expensive writing utensils!” Lydia shoved in the lady’s face.
“Oooh, a lovely pot holder to save you from oven burns!” Veronica flapped two pot holders next to the woman’s hands.
“I’ve got button bracelets, I’ve got wood bracelets, I even have buy two get one free!” added Karen trying to tempt the lady with a deal.
“Whoa, you girls are out of control!” the lady exclaimed and hurried off down the sidewalk.
“You decided to give a bracelet away whenever someone buys two?” Lydia turned to Karen.
“I’ve heard it before and people love it, so I thought I’d try it out. I think I was too pushy though.” She looked down and saw the soup bowls tipped over, her bracelets falling out.
“I think we all were,” Veronica remarked as she tidied up her rows of pot holders.
“Yep, totally the opposite of what dad said!”
They joked at how silly and greedy they must have looked. They really were just excited to see a stranger come over to view their shops.
A little while later, a couple walking a tiny poodle approached their blankets. The woman took great interest in Veronica’s pot holders and ended up purchasing two of her sparkly pink crochet squares.
“Do you have a business card? These are the perfect thickness; I might want to get another pair later on.”
The lady waited for Veronica to hand over a business card, but she had nothing of the sort. She then remembered the index cards and wrote the name of her shop and the email address she shared with her family.
“Um… Make sure you put the name of the shop in the subject line, I share the computer,” she said as she handed over the card.
“I will, have a great day girls!”
She took her goods back to her boyfriend and presented him the pot holders. He gave the girls a thumbs-up and they went back to strolling down the street.
“That was AWESOME!” they marveled.
“Ok, so the just “doing nothing” technique worked. Let’s try it again!” Lydia commanded the team.
“I just wasn’t prepared,” Veronica insisted.
“Ok, whatever. It worked! Let’s do it again.”
And they did. Lots of people moseyed by to check out what the girls had to offer. A few people thought they were homeless and they had to assure them they all had homes. Some commented that they could just make that stuff at home themselves which was annoying, but they shook the words off, as people continued to come and go. Surprisingly, quite a few people even actually asked if they could take debit or credit cards.
They continued peddling and texting their parents until the street lights came on. Lydia had only one pencil holder left and eighteen bags of slime. Veronica was left with nine potholders and gave out a few more “business cards” whenever she sold out of a color someone requested. Karen was the only one to completely sell out of bracelets since she was offering such a good a deal.
Mr. Wyley met the girls back at the clock tower and drove them to the Wyley’s residence. When they arrived Karen’s dad was already there waiting for her in the driver’s seat of their rusty beat up car with her little brother hanging out the back window shouting her name. She thanked everyone with hugs before running over and climbing into the passenger seat. The Hackett family waved as they drove off to Karen’s house to drop her off before her dad’s next job began.
Lydia and her mom drove Veronica home after she stayed over to eat dinner with them and the girls gave each other extra tight hugs after such a good day’s work. When they pulled back into their own driveway, Lydia bounded into the house excited to tell her parents more about the customers they met and the money they’d earned.
Her parents congratulated her three more times before sending her to bed. She was exhausted, but before she could sleep she wanted to look at all the money she’d made. She pulled a flashlight out of her desk and sat on the bed with the covers pulled over her head. She then laid out all the bills and coins she acquired from her day of sales and felt pride swelling in her chest. She actually sold tin cans and slime to people. People she didn’t even know! Michael was wrong, she smirked to herself. She gathered her cash, placed it in a shoebox and tucked it away in her closet for safe keeping. That night her mind was spinning with ideas of where to go next and all the stuff she could sell!