Money making at the school gates
You know what they say; if life gives you lemons... make lemonade.
However, it was selling homemade lemonade that left one five-year-old with a bitter taste after council officials slapped her with a £150 fine for trading without a permit.
Well, to be truthful, it was actually her professor dad given the fine... but that doesn’t make half as good a tale as a cute five-year-old having her makeshift stall cruelly shut down.
The youngster burst into tears saying “I did a bad thing” and it sparked outrage across the nation as people felt the council were far too heavy handed with a girl simply having fun and putting a smile on the face of passers-by.
However, some more cynical types declared “rules are rules” and asked why the youngster should be allowed to bypass the red tape surrounding selling food and drink.
The story had a happy ending as not only did the council apologise and cancel the fine, the entrepreneurial little girl has been inundated with “job offers” inviting her to set up a lemonade stand.
Mark my words, this young girl will end up on a future episode on The Apprentice with her wheeling and dealing skills. Maybe even selling lemonade on the streets of London - after having it cleared with officials first of course.
It got me thinking about the Alan Sugar-type hustlers at school with ingenious ways of boosting their pocket money.
It’s frowned upon nowadays, but school playgrounds were a breeding ground for the shrewd businessmen of the future.
These enterprising kids had school bags brimming with multipacks of crisps and sweets to sell on at a generous mark-up.
Some children had more creative money-making pursuits. One girl was a whizz at doing fancy French plaits and spent her break times doing other girls’ hair for 20p. Quite frankly, seeing the exorbitant prices hair salons charge for prom up-dos, it was a bargain. I’m sure she’s giving Trevor Sorbie a run for his money nowadays.
Another girl, a bit of a science geek, sold her own concoction of a fizzy sherbert sugar mix in fluorescent shades of blue, green or orange made with sugar, citric acid and food colouring for 25p a bag.
I dread to think what it did to my teeth – not to mention my insides, but I was one of her regular customers.
One colleague said: “I must have gone to a much rougher school – they didn’t sell sweets at our school. Just fags.”
My own business venture – and please don’t try this at home – came when I discovered putting empty crisp packets in the oven shrank them into the cutest miniature key-rings.
For a while, I made an absolute packet (excuse the pun) selling tiny Walkers, Wotsits and Hula Hoop keyrings for 10p.
My lucrative use of litter ended when someone suggested I might poison my family with the chemical fumes lining the oven.
Some of these young business hotshots who learnt about supply and demand and profit margins from an early age are probably rich entrepreneurs or business owners by now.
On the other hand, they might just be behind bars for drug dealing.