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It's Popcorn time again

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For the last few years, September has been popcorn month around here. Like many others, my son’s Cub Scout pack sells gourmet popcorn each fall to raise money to fund activities like the annual swim party, camping trips, and pinewood derby races.

Three years ago, I helped my kids launch a simple online popcorn store. Two years ago, we added a small blog to the store. The store has grown a bit each year. The first year all of the orders were placed by friends and family. Last year, they got a couple of orders from complete strangers.

Chocolatey Caramel Crunch, only $15 There’s been some interesting lessons for my kids both about business and themselves.

My kids have learned about sales incentives; the popcorn supplier provides prizes for selling popcorn and my kids found that they sold more when they had a specific prize in mind. Setting a goal helped my kids become not only the top sellers in the pack, but the among the top sellers in our region.

Although competitiveness was an early motivation between my two sons, last year they learned they could do more working together. By working in tandem, they covered more ground and made up for each other’s weaknesses. Combining their efforts resulted in greater sales than they would have gotten otherwise.

Questions from the internet public have provided lessons in customer service. One woman complained via email about child labor—not in selling the popcorn, but because she thought Cub Scouts were being employed to actually produce the products. Another person mistakenly thought that her grandchildren would get credit for the sale and wanted to cancel her purchase after she discovered this wasn’t the case. With help, my kids have decided how to answer each of these questions, and they type up the responses and send them off.

The success in popcorn sales has motivated my oldest son toward entreprenuership. He was the top candy seller for Little League this past spring. This summer he printed up fliers and handed them out in th neighorhood offering his services as a pet sitter and plant waterer. He netted about $100, and the jobs keep rolling in. Now he’s learning time management and responsibility as he finds time to do the work between school, scouts, soccer, and baseball practice.

This year, he moved on to Boy Scouts and his troop doesn’t sell popcorn. So his younger brother has offered to split the prizes with him if he helps out. Now my younger son has an employee and has to manage his time and decide how much of the prizes his help is worth.

If you like popcorn, go get some. The caramel corn is fantastic, and I recommend the above-pictured chocolate caramel corn. It’s only on sale until October, so hurry up.

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