Itching to Make a Buck!

Itching Powder
Itching Powder – Available from WalMart.com
Pop Rocks
Pop Rocks – Infomation from Wikipedeia

Growing up lower middle class we didn’t have much. More than a lot of other families, but not enough to say that we were well off. Most of the families in our neighborhood seldom went on vacation. And if they did, it wasn’t to Disney World or Florida, or even the Jersey shore. Usually it was just to visit family not too far away. I considered us lucky because we got to go camping regularly throughout the summer!

There were a few families that seem to have a little more than the rest of us. They did visit Florida and even Disney World. These were the people that inspired me to want more. But as a kid, what could I do?

My first money making venture was selling Mexican jumping beans. I can’t remember where I got them; maybe my grandfather or perhaps old Mr. Stier that lived on the corner. All the kids at lunch in school were amazed, but no one was buying. Good thing I didn’t have anything invested. Perhaps I should have charged admission to see them instead of trying to make a sale.

Next I tried selling Pop Rocks. I stumbled on a bunch of packets at a store near my grandparents house, such a deal. The plan was to buy them all for about a dollar then sell each packet for ten cents a piece. That plan didn’t work so well. I ended up dumping the entire inventory at half price. Apparently I was at the tail end of the fad. Luckily I didn’t lose any money.

My next venture was a sure thing! April Fools’ Day was coming up, this one couldn’t miss. In the back of a Mad Magazine I spotted an ad for itching powder. You had to mail in your order then wait 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. There was plenty of time. After doing the math, which included shipping and handling, I was going to net just about three dollars. Hey, three bucks was a big deal way back when I was in middle school.

The end of the month rolled around, my shipment of product arrived right on time. April Fools’ Day was on a Friday so I had an entire week to build up momentum. Friday I planned to be completely out of stock with lots and lots of bright shiny quarters jingling in my pocket.

Monday’s sales were slow. Tuesday began to show promise. Wednesday I had to start ducking teachers. By Thursday you would have thought I was selling ice cream sandwiches at half price,  those little packets sold quickly. By Friday at lunch I was down to my last one.

My friends Timmy M. and Mike H. pooled the remains of their lunch money to buy the very last of my precious stock. No I didn’t give them a discount, this is business! After handing over that last packet of nasty stuff to “my friends,” I turned away. Reaching into my pocket to pull out the coins, I marveled at all that money.

I guess I should’ve been paying attention to them because I didn’t hear the packet tearing, nor did I feel the collar of my shirt being pulled back. But believe me, I knew the instant that stuff landed on the bearskin of my back. On contact I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I had been peddling a quality product. Certainly not a single customer would have complained that this stuff didn’t work!

I can’t remember if I threw that shirt out, but I was thankful that it was a PE day. At least I could change into my old smelly gym clothes. My friends did help me get that stuff off my back, although they laughed the entire time.

It wasn’t long after that I started my worm business. Thankfully that worked out much better as you can see that it was the inspiration for Frankie’s moneymaking venture.

If you’re interested you can still buy itching powder. The package still looks the same 40 years later!

Peter Berry

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