Last week I spent a few days with my family in Gainesville, Florida. I’m always humbled by their generosity and kindness. The word that best suites by Aunt Joyce is ‘solid’. She’s the matriarch of her family and rules with a kind heart. She uses honey to catch more bees but is never a push over. She’s organized and methodical to the point of it becoming art. Smooth sailing gets lost in the hustle and bustle of New York or Los Angeles but dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s makes for a less anxiety filled life. Being calculated and ambitious are not mutually exclusive despite what busy New Yorkers and Angelenos might tell you.
My Aunt struck a deal with my little cousin. She could get a cell phone as long as she paid for it. And to pay for it my cousin has taken to selling Ices to the kids on her block. Kids within walking distance of my Aunt Joyce can knock on her door and for ¢25 get a cupful of a frozen sugary kool-aid delight. The business seems to be focused on volume as they get anywhere between 5-10 knocks per day after school and the weekends are just crazy. I never had a lemon-aid stand or newspaper route. Although, I probably could’ve done fairly well just delivering papers to the 400 or so apartments in my building. I could’ve made off like a bandit without ever going outside, working on my throwing aim, or riding a bicycle.
I was impressed by my Aunt/cousin’s business acumen. I did however have some ideas for maximizing profit. For one, I told them the cup sizes were too big. I also thought my Aunt adding chunks of real pineapple to the pineapple flavored kool-aid cups was a nice touch but cut too much into the bottom line. I hinted that they raise the price to ¢50. The blank stares from my Aunt let me know that I was doing too much. I guess when you live on the same block as your clientele a focus on value is key. Plus, no one in their right mind can complain about something that costs ¢25.
My aunt knows what she’s doing and she’s not trying to corner the ice market or build an empire off sugar water. She’s trying to provide refreshment for the neighborhood children and pay for her Grand daughters cell phone. I was bringing nervous energy into her carefully crafted and well executed plan. The city boy was trying to turn her rural operation into Wal-Mart. Only this time the Mom and Pops won. Ices are holding firm at 25 cents, the cup size is remaining the same and the pineapple cup still has chunks of pineapple in it. And that’s how it should be.
I can proudly say that this blog was written in a Mom and Pop.