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Behind every successful salesboy stands a mom with a checkbook

Submitted by on Tuesday, 10 November 2009 No Comment

I dodged the “overpriced crap the PTA wants you kid to hawk” bullet last year by simply making the flier fly away.

The brochure, which suggested that each kid sell $40 worth of “product,” went quickly from backpack to garbage can. I had no interest in having Big Guy peddle candles that make me sneeze or cookie dough he’s allergic to. A naive young kindergartener, he was unaware of the riches he was missing.

Ay, but this year he clued in – whose idea was it to teach 6-year-olds to read? He was aware that if he sold two “products” he’d get to go to a disco party. “I can’t wait!” he smiled. “Mom, what’s a disco party?”

If he sold 12, he’d earn a toy that retails for about $4. “Oooh! I want Drop Popz. What is it?”

For 20 sales, he’d have a chance to climb into a bin and grab as much cash as he could. That prize he at least understood.

He stalled at  15 magazines, cheesecakes and pizzas, so the only cash he got to grab was mine as I wrote an excessively large check this morning to cover mine and Dad’s purchases, as well as those from out-of-town friends who haven’t anted up. I’m sure the checks are in the mail.

I’ll admit, he worked for his disco party and cheap toy. He didn’t go door-to-door – there’s not much point in that when most families on the street have kids in the same school. He instead worked the phone for an entire afternoon, asking people not whether they were going to buy but what they were going to buy.

And I understand why parent-teacher associations virtually everywhere have used these campaigns for years, even though they get only 40 percent at most of the take. If  half of the 833 kids at Big Guy’s school sell the two items needed to go to the party, that’s more than $4,600 for the PTA. Not bad, and probably more effective than just asking each family to donate $6 per kid.

So I suppose that, as much as I grouse and groan each year when the campaigns start, there is some logic and some redeeming value behind them. I’d still rather make a donation than buy stuff I don’t want, but I’m too much of a coward to deprive my kid of a chance at such an important social event as a disco party.

I can’t wait until next year, when both guys are selling.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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