This young salesman knows how to stand out from the rest of the (six) pack.
Seth Parker, who will be entering the sixth grade this fall, has sold lemonade and held yard sales to raise money for his Boy Scout troop or to earn some pocket change in the past. But these efforts weren’t always very successful from a revenue standpoint — in part because a lot of other kids in his Brigham City, Utah neighborhood also set up lemonade stands. There’s too much competition, and not much of a unique selling proposition.
So this summer, Seth and his mom decided that selling root beer — one of his favorite drinks — would entice more thirsty shoppers. And Seth decided he knew how to market it.
“I thought of the joke, ‘Ice Cold Beer!’ … but it’s not really beer, it’s root beer,” Seth, 11, told MarketWatch by phone before heading back out to run his business on Thursday. And that’s exactly what he put on his sign, although he wrote the word “root” in fine print above the giant, all-caps “BEER.”
Such bait-and-switch tactics may not be looked fondly upon in the corporate world of marketing, but Seth’s tongue-in-cheek signs “ICE COLD BEER” and “Wanna Cold 1!?” have gone over well with most of the passersby in Brigham City.
“It’s been great to see people drive by in their cars, cracking up laughing,” his mom Alexis told MarketWatch.
Of course, there have been some locals who didn’t get the joke, and even called the police to complain that a child was selling alcohol — though that ended up paying off for Seth in a big way.
Officers from the Brigham City Police Department checked out the stand on Tuesday, and realized that Seth was actually just serving soda. (It’s Keurig Dr Pepper-owned
I.B.C. root beer, to be exact, which he’s selling by the 20-ounce bottle for $1 a pop. Keurig Dr. Pepper did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for comment.)
Even better for business, the police department posed for pictures with Seth in front of his root beer stand, which they posted to Facebook on Tuesday along with the exact location of his stand — hello, free advertising. The original post has drawn more than 600 comments and been shared more than 3,500 times, and news outlets including CBS, NBC and NPR have picked up the story. Seth sold a full case on Tuesday, and his mother said that they quadrupled their sales on Wednesday.
“It’s great. It’s hilarious,” said Seth. “All I have to do is hold up the sign.”
The mom and “pop” business entails Alexis and Seth deciding how much of the day’s profits to invest in buying more soda to sell the following day. Alexis splits her time as a stay-at-home mom to Seth and his older brother, as well as supporting her husband’s trucking business. She said that each 24-pack costs them around $13 or $14, and Seth earns about $10 in net profit for each case he resells. He has pulled in about $150 in total since Monday, pocketing around $80 after reinvesting part of the profits to buy more root beer to sell. Alexis and Seth are now discussing whether to put the money toward Boy Scouts or school activities — or, to invest in more root beer.
“He likes to be funny,” said Alexis. (Indeed, local news outlets have reported on Seth cracking “Don’t drink and drive!” to his customers.) “Our whole family has a sense of humor, and has always enjoyed laughter.”
And getting Seth out of the house and learning life lessons about earning and investing money is worth more than any amount of cash.
“He’s learning about profits and losses, and seeing how some days will be better sales days than others. And doing this hands-on, and seeing the money, and handling it and learning to budget it, is teaching him life skills he doesn’t get in school,” she said.