Nurture Little Sprouts - Someday They Could Mean Big Lettuce

by Judith Katz-Schwartz

Dateline: 4/10/99

This is meant for my fellow dealers. A young woman wrote to tell me about an incident at a fleamarket she attended one weekend. She and her mother had been snooping around a dealer's table, looking at some "stuff", and along came a little boy. He picked up a beat-up old toy truck with a $7.00 price tag. My correspondent says the truck was worth, at most, two to three dollars. The child turned the toy over, examining it carefully, and then checked his pockets to see how much money he had with him.

"Mister?", the boy said to the dealer, "Will you take six dollars for this truck?" The dealer turned to see who the speaker was, frowned, and said, "No! It's seven dollars!" Then he turned his back on the child and walked away. He glanced at the stunned young woman and her mother and gave them a wink and a grin, as if to say, "Funny, eh? This little pest thinks he can deal with me! I just send them on their way when they try to dicker. Who needs 'em?"

Folks, the man we're talking about is not only an ignorant, mean, heartless skinflint, but a stupid, stupid dealer with not a clue about running a retail business. Anyone who's been a dealer for even a short time will tell you that the key to success in retailing is attracting repeat customers. And anyone who can see beyond his own proboscis will tell you that, since children inevitably grow up to be adults with leisure time and expendable income, they are our future customers. Aside from the fact that, as members of our society, we each have a responsibility to encourage our young people, to educate them and stimulate their intellectual curiosity, it certainly can't hurt a dealer in toys, for example, to help a budding young collector along the road to being a serious collector. The next generation of avid accumulators, eager to spend money on their chosen acquisitions has to come from somewhere. And "somewhere" could be wherever you set up at your next show.

One of my best friends has a successful comic book business. Most of his customers have been "with him" for ten years or more. And what's the average age of his customers? 21! Are you getting it yet, Mr.Grouchy Toy Truck Dealer?

One bit of advice to parents: stick with your kid at the fleamarket. Make sure no one gives him a raw deal. It's good for your relationship for the two of you to go shopping together. He can learn a lot from you in the process. And you might even learn a thing or two from him.

Your comments, as always, are welcome. If you have something to say, write to me.
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1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.