Monday, March 24, 2008

They're Just Now Noticing?

"With candy sales banned on school campuses, sugar pushers are the latest trend at local schools. Backpacks are filled with Snickers and Twinkees for all sweet tooths willing to pay the price."

Um... Excuse me? I hate to break this to the folks covering this article but students selling candy at school isn't exactly a new thing. You're just now noticing it because the school-sanctioned candy sales have stopped. If you set the wayback machine to the early 90's, you could spot Dante selling candy, comic books, baseball cards, etc to fellow classmates. I made an easy $30 a week just off candy. That's a lot of money for a middle schooler. I would undercut prices on candy you could get at school and marked up the ever livin' heck out of things the school didn't sell. Those sour gums were the rage back then and I could get $.50 apiece for them while only spending $7 on a bag of 250. Kids weren't happy about the price but they'd pay it. Here's a sample conversation I'd have at least once a week:

Buyer: "How much for a sour gum?"
Me: "$.50"
Buyer: "That's a ripoff! I can get them for $.15 at the store."
Me: "Then do it."
[Wait a few minutes...]
Buyer: "Here's $.50."

People would give me their lunch money every day for 2 pieces of gum (or 20 Tootsie Rolls). I started by filling a brown bag up with candy to sell each day and that eventually grew to a plastic grocery sack per day mostly selling out. Sure there were slow times. From Nov 1 all the way to New Year's there was a glut of supply from Halloween but I still cleared at least $10 per week in the rough times from candy. I barely broke even on comic books and baseball cards but I was mostly just dumping stuff I had either already read or lost interest in.

Black markets always exist when you restrict supply. There's a lot of money to be made selling things that are scarce. It should be no surprise that even young children understand the concept.

I do have one other nitpick with the article:
"This has become a lucrative business, Nason said, and those kids are walking around campus with upwards of $40 in their pockets and disrupting class to make a sale."

If you're smart about it you won't ever disrupt class to make a sale. Most teachers who find out think it's sort of cute and that the candy sales make you a sort of aspiring businessman. If you cross the line and disrupt their time to make a sale, that attitude will change very quickly.

As far back as 1st grade, my brother made money off of renting crayons. I was a sucker and sold things. He got his crayons back and re-rented them over and over again. He asked $.10 per crayon or 8 for $1. Yes, kids rented 8 at a time often. He got in trouble for it when his teacher found almost $100 in dollar bills and change stuffed in his desk. The lousy pinko teacher took the money and spent it on a pizza party for the class.

For those of you like Pat who are currently involved in school systems across our great country, how much "black market" activity do you see in your school? By high school I had competition from the aerobics teacher and was pretty much put out of business but even as late as college you hear stories of guys running a bar out of their dorm room...

1 comment:

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I am no stranger to this phenomenon, though many of my students have yet to involve themselves in such a lucrative trade.

I, however, can subcontract errands and cleaning duties to my students for "treat cards," which they take as seriously as savings accounts in my class. The more treat cards, the better the treat. Hershey kisses fill out the cheap end and a lunch from McDonalds fills out the high end. They're all trying for the lunch (you have to get a LOT of cards to get me to go), but usually they only have the willpower to save up for a Pop Tart.

For those students who disrupt my class to eat an unsanctioned snack or hock their sugary wares, if I catch them, I charge the "teacher tax." They hate this because this 'tax' requires that they share a portion of their wares with me and the class.

Even though I hate cheetos, I will wolf down a handful just to deter the bad behavior.

But, yeah, nothing new at all in this article.