Seeds For Sale
Back in the early 60s, I began my career of becoming an independent entrepreneur. I don’t often get a chance to use such a word as, entrepreneur, but it means businessperson, tycoon or capitalist. I am sure you all know that, but I enjoy using new words. Anyway, back to my story. At that young age I decided if I was to become a young entrepreneur from three miles out Fishing Creek, it was up to me to find the path.
I will have to tell you, opportunities were far and few between for a fledgling businessman. Cutting grass, shoveling snow and the occasional helping to clean out garages or basements wasn’t likely to set me on the course for financial independence.
I will have to admit at that time in my life I enjoyed reading comic books, especially the ones that were titled Classic adventures. They were comic book versions of full size books such as, Treasure Island, Captain Nemo and Knights of the Round Table. On the back page of the comic classics was often an advertisement. It said they were looking for young people wanting to make some money.
The advertisement showed a simple way to become a seed entrepreneur. It promoted the opportunity as a way to build self-confidence and encourage kids to get out into the community. I decided to become a seed salesman from the Twin Bridges in Wetzel County. I guess I figured I just might make it big in the world of flower seed sales. You have to remember I was only eleven or twelve years old when this revelation overtook me.
I looked into my shoe box where I kept my valuable things. It contained baseball cards, fossils and old coins I had found. The shoebox was disguised to not reveal it held my worldly treasures. Anyway, back to my story. I counted the money earned by cutting grass, shoveling snow and found I had enough to become the first seed entrepreneur from out the creek.
The way it worked, you sent the money to the company and they would send you a supply of seeds. I don’t remember just how much it cost me, but I do know if I sold all the seeds I could double my money. Ten, fifteen dollars to a kid back in the 60s was big money. I would be well on my way to becoming an entrepreneur from Fishing Creek. I cut out the small application and filled out the information. It was real simple to fill out. They wanted to know my name and my address. There was one big question I had to answer before I could send them the form and my hard earned money. They wanted to know if I wanted to be a flower seed salesman or a vegetable seed salesman. They also gave me the opportunity to go for broke and take on both kinds. I figured since I was just starting out, I would corner the flower seed market first and then go after the vegetable market later.
On our weekly Saturday morning trip to town to go grocery shopping, I had my parents drop me off at the post office. I knew there I could exchange my cash for a money order. I understood big business didn’t necessarily deal in cash. After I purchased the money order I probably walked up to the Western Auto Store. Dad like to go in that particular store, to purchase needed items to make repairs around the house.
A short time later, I sealed the money order and information inside the envelope and sent it off to the company. I am sure the next day I started checking the mail box for my shipment of flower seeds. I’ll bet I was already calculating how much money I was going to make.
I don’t remember how long it took, but one day a box too big to fit into our mail box arrived sitting on top of the long row of mail boxes for our small community. You can imagine my excitement when I saw the box. Even more exciting, it had my name on it. I hurried home with my box of seeds and quickly opened it. On top was an official letter from the company congratulating me on my new seed business. Inside was a note instructing me to do an inventory of the seeds.
I laid the packets of seeds out in neat rows and carefully counted the packages. I don’t remember how many different varieties were in the box, but I do remember they were mostly what I call common flowers – aster, marigolds, sweet peas, zinnias, sunflowers, morning glories and daisy packets. There may have been more, but I only remember they were ordinary seeds. I counted the seeds packets and figured the sales price marked on the outside and calculated the company was correct. If I sold all the seeds I would double my investment.
With my box of seeds in hand, I set off to visit each of my neighbors to give them an opportunity to purchase that year’s flowers seeds, right on their door steps. Some of our neighbors smiled and said they were glad to purchase my seeds. Others were not interested in me becoming the seed salesman entrepreneur from Fishing Creek.
I cannot remember how many seeds I sold, but I know I did not sell my full inventory.
If memory serves me, my parents ended up buying most of the seeds and planting them along the driveway. Somehow having my parents purchase my inventory did not make me feel like the entrepreneur I thought I would be when I set out on my business adventure.
My seed business did not make me my first fortune, but it did set me on the path of working to make myself some income. I enjoyed the feeling of earning money on my own. Believe it or not I purchased more seeds and even ventured into vegetables. I also rode my bike down the road to Rolling Acres and into town to sale my seeds. The second year I did pretty well. I even gained a paper route along the way. A couple years later when I was nearly sixteen, I rode my bike into the Dairy Queen each morning to clean the ice cream section of the store. A three mile trip on my Western Flyer. A short time later I purchased my first motorcycle. I was in tall cotton riding my shiny new Honda. Looking back all those years ago, I remember that our community gave me the opportunity to earn an income. It helped to teach me, that if you want something, you first have to try. I never became the entrepreneur I once dreamed of, but my working career provided for me and my family to have a good life along the Ohio River as I looked back, Through the Lens.