The boys have set up shop in the living room. It began in one corner with Nelson opening The Pokémon Shop. He sat in a Cracker Barrel rocking chair from Grandma Judy, behind a bench I bought from an elementary school craft show, wearing a $2 baseball cap from Target. He is wearing an old pair of my glasses with the lenses popped out. He spared no expense with presentation.
He positioned his biz just inside the back door, a lucrative location, catching his parents at least 20 times a day letting a cat in or out. Behind him, the bookshelf, another draw for his mother, quarters heavy in her hand.
He’s selling Pokémon cards. Ones that were handed down to him from a friend. For the first time, he’s in the driver’s seat of his brother’s life. He’s got something his brother wants. Desperately. And so, in a shocking turn of entrepreneurial spirit, the 7 year old set up shop during a commercial break of Beyblades.
The dynamics of the business world are alive and well, even in this small below-code operation.
Supply and Demand:Kendall has about 150 Pokémon cards in his hands. New ones, Christmas ones, eBay-coveted ones. But the ones he can’t have, he wants. And they sit guarded by a short man across the room. Demand is high. Supply is low. The cards climbed from a reasonable 25 cents each to a Star-Wars-wallet-breaking full dollar in less than 15 minutes.
Insurance: Nelson is running a clean, bright storefront. His quarters are sorted to one side, flat, heads up, a bottle of water on hand for long negotiations. He awoke this morning, his second day of business, and literally danced with possibility. “Open for business!” rang through the house from a businessman in camo footie pajamas. But when it was time to close for breakfast, he took no chances: “Mom,” he said, “I have 19 quarters. Make sure I have 19 when I get back.” He cast a furtive glance at his brother and ate Cap’n Crunch.
Marketing: Nelson has two piles of cards. Ones that are “in” stock and those that are “out” of stock. In stock are the ones he can’t read or can’t pronounce. Out of stock are the ones he wants to keep for himself but keeps in full view. I notice these “rare” cards become mysteriously IN stock if anyone shows up with a green dollar bill.
Competition: Within an hour, Kendall set up The Pokémon Trader at the corner of Love Seat and End Table. His location is a respectable distance but a harrowing threat. However, he is not selling cards. Instead, for 25 cents you are welcome to browse his world-class collection. For 50 cents, he is willing to part with an assortment of Pokémon plush toys also handed down to us. I am impressed. A business with low overhead and its own niche. Well played.
The Crash: About an hour into day two, the coin jar is empty at the Chapple House, I have a nice inventory of over-priced Pokémon and two disgruntled shop owners. The manual labor of manning a storefront is weighing heavy. The breaks are getting longer and the dream is getting smaller. I can see the test of their work ethic is at hand. The reality is harsh and the rocking chair is hard.
Finally, from the corner, after a long drought of no customers, Nelson declares this:
“If no one comes to my store, I’ll run out of business and I’ll have to sell my MONEY!”
I sit on the couch and, with no fanfare, agree. I’m secretly pleased. I just gave him a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management for about 5 bucks out of the coin jar.