Selling Ice Cream

The kids learned the most difficult part of business - finding customers.

Since I helped the kids sell soda to high school students walking past our house on their lunch break five years ago, they are always coming up with new items to sell. Selling pop left a big impression on them.

Since most of their ideas have a major flaw, I usually just listen and wait for it to pass, but their plan to sell ice cream really sounded good. They estimated the cost of the ice cream, noticed that local ice cream stores were packed, noted the hot weather in the forecast, discussed whether to buy cones or cups, discussed what flavors were most popular, and calculated the price required to sell the cones in order to make a profit. After days of discussion and planning I was ready to support this project so we took a trip to the store.

They pooled their money and spent about $20 on chocolate, vanilla, strawberry ice cream, cones, napkins and gummy bears.

During the car ride home they estimated they purchased supplies for 36 cones and calculated the price they spent per cone.

Next, they prepared a sign which contained both English and German as we live in Germany, but there are many Americans also living in the village.

The sign included prices in both dollars and euros.

Coins for making change were placed into their money belt for the trip.

The cooler hadn't been used in a while, so cleaning was required.

It was loaded with the goods and ice they had made the previous day.

Finally they were ready to sell.

They returned 1.5 hours later quite disappointed and exhausted. They dragged the cooler about 2 km around the village in 90 degree heat and sold one cone. During the sale they discovered the ice cream was melting fast and decided they needed to return home before all of their inventory was destroyed. However, to their surprise, their customer really liked the ice cream and gave them a tip.

I felt so bad for them. They literally worked for hours and ended up loosing $19, but this was a huge learning experience. Not only did it require cooperation, planning, math, and art, but marketing skills as well.

My kids are a bit shy and have never wanted to order their own food at restaurants, ask a sales person in a store where the bathroom is, or any other task which requires talking to a stranger. Communication is a crucial skill in selling anything face-to-face.

My son was quite discouraged, but my daughter was determined to try again. After all, she still needed to recover her lost investment. They decided next time they will yell "Ice Cream for Sale" while walking down the street, carry a bell or something to make noise, and use a lighter cooler. If public school is in session they will try to go when the bus drops kids off.

They worked so hard and had a great idea. I hope they do better next time.


  1. What a great job they did. You will have to tell them stories of great people who had many failures before their great success...great that your daughter wants to try again hope they keep trying:)

  2. Love that they try things like this and whilst a bit heart tugging that they lost some money, it's such a valuable lesson that they will have taken from it. You must be so proud of them, especially your daughter for wanting to try again.

  3. What a great post! It's so easy to feel sorry for our kids when things don't work out great, but there is often a lesson in it - your kids worked hard and I hope they are proud of themselves and am sure that with persistence, they will recoop their investment and make a profit to boot - best of luck to them!


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