Street Corner Kids

by Nick Meyer

Every third weekend in May my neighborhood (the Eastside Hill in Eau Claire) holds a massive, neighborhood-wide thrift sale event. This year, more than 140 homes signed up to participate. They’re all listed on a printed and online map, which comes in a very handy mobile version too. Think about that – 140 thrift sales, all at the same time, within more or less one square mile, all mapped out for you on your phone. If you’re into that kind of thing it’s a dream come true. But even if you’re not into rummaging through other people’s junk, this event has become about so much more than just the thrift sales. It’s a neighborhood-wide festival with thousands of people canvassing the sidewalks. There are brat stands and musical performances, ice cream carts roaming the streets, and on pretty much every block there’s a kid or two set up to sell any number of tasty offerings: lemonade, juice, water, brownies, cookies, and more. And that’s my favorite part of it all: seeing a kid get excited to participate and take some initiative is something we could all use a little more of. My kid wanted to sell cookies and popcorn. So the night before the sale he (and mom) baked up a batch of their best chocolate chip cookies and got them packaged and ready to go. Then the morning of the event, alongside our own thrift sale, we set up a borrowed popcorn popper and made fresh batches well into the afternoon. At four-and-a-half years old, he created a chance to flex his entrepreneurial muscles by greeting customers, making change, and saying thank you. He did it with hit-or-miss consistency. Eventually his friends showed up to play so he left his post for mom and dad to fill in for a while. As you might imagine, we didn’t sell as much as he did. There are probably a few things he could teach us – in more ways than one.

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