For the very first time in my life, I was a vendor. My brother and I sold boffer weapons at the Westport Mini Maker Faire! He learned to make boffer weapons from a friend in Boston. My brother LOVED making them, so he took them to school for show and tell. He came up with the idea to sell it after his friend asked to buy it. I was extremely excited to sell things since I went to an entrepreneur camp. At camp, I sold handmade bracelets in fancy boxes. There, a counselor guided us through. But here, my brother and I were in charge. If one of us decided to quit, then the project would be ended.
First, we made a plan for our packaging. Boffer swords are swords that are made of foam, PVC pipe, and duct tape. The foam is wrapped around the PVC pipe with duct tape so the weapon will not hurt when you hit people with it. It is perfect for fake fighting! Boffer daggers are the same as boffer swords only smaller. I thought it would be best to tie the PVC pipe and the foam together in a long pack. We would give the buyers a roll of duct tape with the package.
Then, I spent a long time calculating the material cost of the sword. It was hard math, because I had to figure out what strategies to use, unlike in school where my teacher would help us find the strategy. We had to take into account the price of the space we were renting in the Maker Faire. After I calculated all of that, I was utterly exhausted! We decided to sell the dagger for $5, and the sword for $10.
After that, we went to Home Depot to buy our materials. My brother and I spent the whole afternoon packaging 20 kits! I remembered I had read a Henry Ford book that said a manufacturing line was the fastest way to produce with people. We formed a manufacturing line. My brother’s job was to slide the foam onto the pipe and cut the foam. I tied the foam and the PVC pipe together with twine. My hands were sore by the time we finished, but I felt triumphant as I finished the last kit. We had accomplished a big part in the project!
Finally, we made an advertising poster. I sketched out a design for our poster on a sheet of scrap paper. Once we liked it, I transferred it to the poster board. My brother outlined it with colorful marker to make it stand out. The poster listed the price of the weapon kits and it showed a picture of a knight holding a giant boffer sword!
The night before the maker faire, I couldn’t stop jumping! I was so excited! My family and I had the stuff we needed for selling the kits all piled up by the door. This would be a great experience to practice my entrepreneur skills. We had come so far in the project, the only question was: would we be able to sell anything? I kept reassuring myself that we would sell some weapons.
On the day of the faire, the weather was bright and sunny, and it reflected my mood! When finally the clock struck 10:30 (the time when the faire started), still no one came to our table. My brother started performing his cool tricks with the boffer swords he made. A few people came and asked us what we were doing, said “Cool!”, then left. I appreciated their politeness but I wanted to sell something! I was starting to get desperate! Maybe my family and I had spent all this time for nothing. Even though I was trying to be patient, it was getting harder and harder to control my feelings every minute. Finally, a teenage boy came over and said: “Can I try?” I handed him a boffer sword and he and my brother began to duel. I was worried that my brother might smack the other boy in the face with the sword. Even though boffer swords are coated with foam, they could hurt if you hit a person with it hard enough! My brother and the boy battled for some time then my brother said: “Do you want to buy a sword kit?” The boy answered: “Sure, how much does it cost?” “$10 for the sword, $5 for the dagger.” My brother answered eagerly. He and I shared the same thought: We might actually sell one! “I’ll take the small one.” The boy said. Just then, his brother came and bought a dagger too! We had made $10! Even though that was a small amount of money, the feeling that we did not waste all this time and effort on nothing was great! I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Later, the boy came back and traded the small dagger for the bigger sword!
In the afternoon, my family and I took turns taking a break and eating lunch. This made me feel like I was a staff part of an official company. More people came in the afternoon to buy the swords. Finally, it was time to pack up. But my brother wouldn’t stop performing his tricks because he said: “Look, there are some kids who are helping their family pack up, they might want to buy one!” His perseverance paid off. Even though the rest of my family had said: “It’s no use.” one of the boys came over, thought the weapons were cool, and went off to tell his mom. His mom came over with the boy’s brother and bargained for a lower price for 1 sword and 1 dagger. Since this was the last person to buy it, we accepted the bargain. If somebody had asked us in the middle of the day and we had said yes, than the other people would want a sale for them too! We would have made no money.
Once we got home, we counted the money. We had brought $200 for change. But since we used some of the change, we had to give back enough money to replenish the $200. After that we had about 90$ left. But since we had to subtract $50 (for the space) and we had to subtract the cost of the material, we had about 1 dollar left. Divide that by 2 and you get a few cents. My brother and I were really upset that we had only earned so little money, but my mom said that since she was so proud of our courage and perseverance, she would give us $90 to split evenly between both of us.