Saturday, September 5, 2009



Here sits Peter, at the ripe age of 9, ready to go to work at 5:30AM this morning. He was off to sell fire starters at an outdoor market about an hour and a half away from home with grandma and grandpa. Grandpa Cliff's booth does a mighty business in woodworking, and the boys' little table makes a nice profit.

The history...
About 7 or 8 years ago, Zachary shared a wish list (all Legos) with Tim. Rather than turning him down, Tim suggested that if he wanted the toys, Zac should earn the money to buy them. Shortly thereafter, Zax Fire Starters was launched.

Together, we designed the prototype with suggestions and ideas from Tim, who used to make fire starters when he was a boy. Zachary began selling his packs at 5 for $1.

His first attempts at salesmanship were difficult due to extreme shyness. He gradually learned to step out of his comfort zone and draw some attention to his product. Grandma Billie was especially helpful in coaching him to anticipate the moment of eye contact when he could make his move with a friendly greeting, or "Would you like to buy some fire starters?"

Every summer since the launch, our garage has been transformed into a workshop, with a hot plate, hundreds of little paper cups and giant bags of sawdust from grandpa's shop (plus another top-secret ingredient). We have experimented with different designs, and the current product sells 10 for $3. It is truly a family business, with the grandparents playing a key role.

Last weekend Joseph was the salesman, and brought home over $115 to split with Peter.Today Peter brought home about $90 to split with Joseph. They share the production work, and split the profits. Zachary used to collect royalties (for having conceived of the business and developed the clientele base). These days it's all up to Joseph and Peter.

The torch has been passed. Zax Fire Starters is a thing of the past. The new sign reads "Joe's Fire Starters" but Peter wears a "Peter's Fire Starters" hat to work.

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