Early Entrepreneurship and a Cheap Pad of Paper

piggy bankHaving the five year old watch the last two seasons of “Celebrity Apprentice” was bound to pay off, and she analyzed the teams’ performance along with the rest of the family. Designing hand drawn paper laptops at five, she’s a future entrepreneur.

Her preschool class learned about jobs last month. Fifteen tiny workers proudly wore a sticker stating their job title that they drew from a basket. Earning a penny a day, they anxiously awaited Friday’s shopping spree at the classroom store.

Exciting Job: Bag Helper

They are like this, only with 4 things hanging from each hook and 3 times as many hooks.

When someone’s coat or lunchbox falls off the hook, you get to go hang it back up. Three things fell during the first day, so it was eventful and exciting. Then she was stuck with that dead end job for the rest of the week, and days went by with nothing to do.


Unfortunately the harsh realities of not doing your job were quickly learned as her friend was fired. I asked if there was a boardroom scene or exit interview. Was Donald Trump there? She just giggled. “Mom, that’s silly.”

Big Sister Marketing Tactics

My early entrepreneurial training began at around eight years old thanks to my sister and her full piggy bank. Mine was in a perpetual state of empty, and the remedy was creating a “store” in my room. Having nothing of real value to sell, I was forced to create stuff from junk around the house.

It was back in the days of punch cards for computers, and my dad would bring them home by the box loads. Seizing the opportunity, I cut them in half, stacked 20 together, and stapled the top. Voilà! A pad of paper worthy of my customer’s admiration and pennies. Occasionally, I colored a design on the top sheet to make it fancier and higher priced. Drawing Snoopy on the front could bring in an extra 4 cents.

What store is complete without fake gum?

wrigleys gumUsing old gum wrappers and some paper, I painstakingly created Wrigley’s gum packs with handwritten labels.

Taping the “Now Open” sign to my door, I was ready for business. Advertising consisted of running to my sister’s room next door and over enthusiastically announcing for her to grab her piggy bank.

She was only five, and arrived with her little plastic egg full. With all the grace of Vanna White I showcased my wares to the unsuspecting victim. After purchasing every item, she left with the goods, and I sat back to count the money which I used to buy real gum.

I’m visiting my sister soon, and out of guilt…I think I owe her some Wrigley’s.


  1. Really cute story, Melinda! I wish I had been more inventive as a kid. I simply did boring stuff like mowing lawns, shoveling snow and household repairs. I started around 10 years old, before that I was on the Social Welfare System of allowances for doing dishes and taking out the trash. Unfortunately, The State wasn’t paying me well enough to be able to afford the telescope I wanted – not in this lifetime. So, it was off to the work-a-day world of manual labor.

    BTW: thise beta version of CommentLuv is returning errors, say it can’t find my feed. Just thought you, as a beta tester, would want to know.

  2. Cute post, it’s fun to reminisce isn’t it. I didn’t have any brother’s or sisters, but I did have a cousin that would come over a lot, and she’s younger. We’d play store or make the adults eat our pretend medicine. But the one thing that sticks out the most is I would build elaborate forts and then put up signs saying that she wasn’t allowed in (mean, I know). I guess I had a case of the only child syndrome. Like you owe your sister some gum, I should build my cuz a big princess castle fort or something. Maybe that would ease my conscience.
    PS I just noticed you added me to your blogroll (I’m blushing) thank you . It’s funny cause I just commented and listed you as one of my favorite blogs, on Shell’s most recent post (Things I Can’t Say).
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  3. Marianne - The Sister That Was Ripped Off says:

    Ha Ha Ha! Thanks for the reminder…I need to start preparing my “store” for when you come to visit…
    By the way, I still have that egg bank. I might also have some of the “custom” items I bought at your store…time to dig through the memory box.

    • Fine quality pads of paper such as those are timeless treasures and not for actual use. I mean they were a penny!!! I’ll bring some change.

    • I just realized what a terrible pad of paper that made with all the holes in it. Although I remember we used to try to connect the holes and create a picture. If only my kids were so easily entertained.

  4. Ha! I remember I had this blue monkey bank that actually kind of scared me with it’s evil grin. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and it would be LOOKING AT ME.

    I never wanted to go near it so I’d just spend my money in whichever gumball machine I could find.

    Thus I continued to help the economy by spending and not saving.

    I’m glad your daughter could make it through that Celebrity Apprentice! Sometimes the arguments got so heated I would be cringing in my seat. If my job(s) were ever that stressful I would quit in a day!

    You’ll have to let us know if proper recompense is ever made to your sister 🙂
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    • A monkey bank…that is almost like those scary clown puppets. I think that comes from watching too many scarey movies where toys come to life.

      She was funny…she had her favorites on Celebrity Apprentice.

      I think she is making me a store to visit. 🙂 I’m bringing my change.

  5. “Mom, that’s silly.”

    Lol! I remember my little sis saying things like that.

    You, by the way, were an absolute genius!

  6. Hi Melinda

    You were an entrepreneur from way back LOL And what a great sis you have. I always wanted a sister….for me it was so I would have clothes to swap and more choice in my wardrobe 🙂

    Great that children are learning that they work and then they get the reward. I’m sure your daughter was very good at it too.

    Patricia Perth Australia

  7. I remember refolding the empty gum wrapper and sliding it back into the sleeve, then offering it to someone: “Want some gum?” It seemed hilarious at the time. But then, so did The Three Stooges.

    Another great post, Melinda. The pennies are long gone, but the guilt still lingers, doesn’t it?
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  8. I love stories like this. I fondly remember putting real money into a toy cash register. Okay, I remember putting coins in there and grabbing Monopoly money for the bills. LOL

    The comments here are fun, too! Charles always makes me laugh, though I take issue with his Stooge Bashing. Things haven’t been the same since the “heist”.

    Hey, Charles: “Bee Aye Bay, Bee Ee Bee, Bee Eye Bicky-bye, Bee Oh Bo…Bicky Bye Bo Bee You Boo, Bicky Bye Bo Boo!”


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  9. Can I have your sister’s phone number? She seems mind-numbingly gullible and I can definitely draw gum.

    • LOL!!!!!!!!!! No way that’s my $$$$$$$

    • Marianne - The Sister... says:

      I was the younger sister after all and it’s been a long time since the “store” closed its doors. I have since been well educated and actually have a PhD in Genetics.

      Perhaps I could offer you some of the products in my store, Greg…
      – Genetically-engineered squirrels that are trained to protect your bird feeder from unauthorized marauders
      – DNA treatments to increase your handyman abilities (no guarantees)
      or perhaps
      – Genetic testing to understand your susceptibility to taking on large DIY projects requiring large amounts of heavy lifting

      Supply is limited…Call for pricing!…

  10. Awww, what a cute story! Thanks for sharing!
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