This is week five of a series where I'll be sharing a chapter from my book (Stop Selling Start Helping) each week. If you missed the first few weeks, scroll all the way to the bottom and click "previous" to read them. To learn more about Stop Selling Start Helping, click here.

Lemonade For Sale

I’m going to finish this section with another story about lemonade. This time, it was our middle son, Isaac’s story. He was 10 at the time...

Our neighborhood has an annual garage sale that has grown to something of a spectacle. The 'hood has about 250 homes in it, and probably 20% of them participate – 50 houses in a neighborhood garage sale is C.R.A.Z.Y., let me tell you. People parking in every possible open spot (fire hydrant or not); police are called every year, and tickets are given out; even though the big sign out front clearly says 9am-3pm, people are hovering outside our garages at around 7:30! Truly an experience.

While it's our goal to get rid of the junk we've collected over the years (amazing how we can ALL have more junk to sell year after year!), our kids have begun to figure out it's also an opportunity for them to capitalize on the captive audience of thousands of people coming through the neighborhood over these two days.

Isaac had been looking forward to that year's garage sale for months. Not only does he LOVE buying things, but he also enjoys SELLING things and MAKING money. Besides the stack of things he gathered from his room to sell, he was also excited to open a lemonade stand. About two months prior, he had created a sign to really grab people's attention!

So, the day came, and as Isaac (and his younger brother, Ian) was setting up his stand, we all noticed the neighbors directly across the street were also setting up a lemonade stand! The competition had begun!

Shortly after Isaac finished setting up shop, another neighbor from down the street joined Isaac and Ian, bringing brownies to sell, too! (The "competition" across the street was selling cookies!) Along with the brownies came the neighbor boy and his three friends (all teenagers). Isaac was very overwhelmed with these boys; they took over some of his selling space; they had sandwich boards made up and were walking around, yelling, "Brownies for sale. Delicious brownies for sale. Come get your brownies!" Meanwhile, Isaac sat there and poured cup after cup for people who continued to come up asking for lemonade. He took their money kindly, with a "thank you."

At one point, the "competition" started calling out what they had..."Lemonade. Cookies. Popsicles. Juice boxes. Come and get it!" One of the teenage boys who had joined Isaac’s team started saying things like, "Their cookies are laced with poison." or "You can drink their lemonade, but you should know, it was made by the devil, himself." (I thought that one was particularly funny!) Meanwhile, Isaac continued to sell lemonade, quietly and consistently.

One woman walked up, and the older boys went about their "selling" ways – spouting off one of the bashing comments of the cookies being sold across the street (I think it was the devil reference). The woman said, "I was planning on buying one of your brownies, but now I'm not so sure. You need to tell me why I should buy your brownies, not why I shouldn't buy your competitor's cookies." (We learned soon after that she had been in sales for 30 years and was prepared to teach a lesson to these boys!)

Ultimately, she got the one boy, in particular, who had been making the bashing comments to "sell" her on their brownies. He started with, "They're perfect." She dug for more. "They're delicious and melt in your mouth." Still not sold. "They were made with love and compassion." THAT got her going. "Now you're speaking my language," she said. She did end up buying a brownie. (And, she bought a cookie from across the street!)

Meanwhile, Isaac kept on pouring lemonade (although he was definitely paying attention to the conversation going on between the lady and the older boys).

The big lesson...

Isaac was in the right place (tons of people walked by that day) at the right time (it was about 88 degrees) and he provided a product that met the needs of the target audience (refreshment on a hot day). There was no hard sell coming from his mouth, outside of the random call of "Lemonade for sale. 25 cents." He wasn't forcing something on people that they didn't want or need. He wasn’t talking poorly about the competitors. He just offered a great product and met a need.

Although they got bored after just a couple hours, Isaac made $12.75 (that's more than 50 cups of lemonade sold). I don't know how much the older boys made on their brownies, but I'm pretty sure they ate most of the profits!

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