The school year has started. What it means that is that any day, your grade-schooler is going to walk in the door, eagerly waving a large envelope "We are going to sell this to our neighbors....And make pots of money for the ABC field trip (or Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts, or the MS Society...)
Earlier years brought in a large red and white envelope, filled to the brim with instruction sheets, grinning models posing with their precious Level 10 Thank you gift (Fantastic SuperSoaker, with a 'retail value of $50', yours for having achieved sales at the $1000 mark).
Sigh, been there, done that before, with ballet, with swimming club, with the Boy Scouts. Only, this year there was a new twist to the traditional fundraiser. While in earlier years, any fundraiser meant all kids would walk around the neighborhood with alluring catalogs and actual samples of the gift-wrap paper that were the staple of middle school sales, this year was different.
I've taken pity on the charming gap-toothed tots (more often than not at the same time my husband decided that some co-worker's kid in the office should get some orders from him), and purchased enough gift wrap to last me all the way till 2012, or whenever it is that we are not supposed to need anymore. Or fallen to the wiles of our neighbor's lisping kindergartner who was savvy enough to recommend that I buy the 'big tin of popcorn' and hurriedly took my check, shoving it into his pocket and running so fast that it fell out onto the grass before he could make it home across the lawn.
This year, I thought that I was going to walk around the neighborhood with M, hat in hand, hoping the neighbors would take pity on us. I tried to talk M into not being enthusiastic about it, but was unsuccessful at 'unpepping' her after the pep talk she had received at school .
I opened the dreaded brochure packet. No sign of any colorful catalog this year. Instead, there was a small insert with a couple of dozen punch out 'Gift Cards'. The fundraiser sales company had decided to go all "internet" on us and expected us to go around hawking these cards, instead of showing the merchandise in catalogs with samples. The buyers were to enter our kids 'seller ID' (to be obtained after registering on their site) for sales credit.
Pouf! Way to take the fun out of door-to-door selling. Or maybe they just expect the kids to post it on their Myspace or Facebook pages and expect the orders to pour in.
Despite the novel-length explanatory email that several infuriated parents received from the fundraising committee, I suspect that we have largely returned the sales material.
How in the world is this going to promote a new world of entrepreneurship in the next generation, if it takes away the fun of face-to-face communications and tangible views of merchandise? I may be a fuddy-duddy at such sales and gripe about Boo Radleyish neighbors who will not answer the doorbell, but even dealing with those are a lesson to learn for the kids as in "Do not disturb Boo Radley with fundraisers. Try the nice old lady three houses down. Stay away from the other house that has their dog out most of the time. Yes, you may go to P's house. But not to F's".
You never appreciate it till it goes away.
And so, now you will hear me say the one thing that I never thought I would say:
I miss the old-fashioned door-to-door kiddy salespeople!