Week 99: Gum Part 2

Friday, 22 November 2019

Reading time 3 minute 21 seconds 

You’ll never take me a alive copper – Misquote James Cagney

Previously on week 98 – Myself and Gary setup a semi illegal business aged 11 

The next day at school our pop up gum shop popped up. Gary had the looks and people would flock to him once they knew he had the good stuff. I had the charm, personality and sales experience so started hawking our product. The kids stopped what they were doing and respectfully listened to my spiel. For a brief moment it went very quiet then the noise started and they flocked to us. We were inundated with customers and sold out un under 10 minutes. The pop up store popped back down as if it never existed.
What staggered us was that even the Green One sold. The winning formula was ours, all ours. Product, People, Profit. I could not possibly see what could go wrong.  

Time to strategize. At our next break there was a high-level executive meeting between two 11 year old Arthur Daley’s. We’d gather every penny we could and head to Asda that night. The world was ours for the taking and we took.

The next day at school we stood in the same corridor and I put the shout out. Everything was gone in moments, we were like a fat calf in a hungry piranha pool and were 40% up from the previous day which afforded us more product that night.  

We were fast becoming wealthy. What should we do? Double down was my view and luckily my business partner being as greedy as me agreed. We changed the ratios less Green, more Juicy. The more we brought, the more we sold. Every penny was being reinvested, business was great. By week three we calculated that if we moved into other territories like our rival school and even beyond we could be millionaires before puberty. There are always consequences but not when your 11. That’s a consequence free time in your life. 

Over a thousand kids in that school all with the “I don’t give a toss” look because every one of them was chewing gum.  

We were not even knocking on the door of being teenagers and making over £40 profit a day each. To put that into context, during October as a comedian I made £20 for the entire month. 11 year old me would be as ashamed as 48 year old me is.

The teachers were on the prowl. It was a game of cat and mouse. Luckily we were big fans of Tom and Jerry so were always two steps ahead. Our place of operation would change minute to minute. Our was the first and only ever constantly mobile pop up. We even started to employ people to deal gum for us at a very small cut which meant free money for us and less work. We did all of this without the internet and mobile phones mainly because they were yet to be invented.

Every child in that school had our product. Wrigley’s share price must have increased. We adapted to our situation very quickly. We no longer worried about Asda stopping us we had enough money and were making them bundles. Why would they switch off the tap, they had shareholders too. We even complained to the manager as they run out of gum one day. What sort of operation was this? They were no longer a supermarket in our eyes, just a market. 

We thought we were big shots because we were. Life was great. I didn’t know any other people our age clearing £200 a week profit. We were so cocky that the phrase pride comes before a fall would not reach our ears.

Then one day my business partner was apprehended. A teacher had been shaking our customers down for weeks. It was an east London school and no one grasses so we had no worries there. It was just a bit of unfortunate luck with a little cunning a guile on the teachers side. Gary set up shop, I was across the way and we failed to spot the sneaky teacher. He hid, waited then pounced like a hungry lion bringing down a gazelle. My business partner was apprehended and caught red handed. 

I wasn’t even worried that I’d get in trouble. We’d been pals since we were babies, he was like a better-looking brother. He’d never rat me out. The teachers knew we were in cahoots as we were thick as thieves, but I was never punished as they had nothing on me. I hid my stock so when searched they came up empty. Babylon. Gary got a big telling off and they confiscated our supply that he was holding. Luckily it was close to the end of the break so he’d mostly sold out. They could not confiscate his money as that would be seen as proper theft. Our customers were not happy but they adjusted and a few days later no one was chewing gum except the teachers.  

It had been a crazy few weeks. We were a little richer, ok we were a lot richer but it was time to move on to our next gig, which I’m sure we’d work out at the next executive meeting. Sadly, we never had that success again. Our car washing business started to fail as we were just not interested because it was such hard work. Selling gum was fun and the profit margins amazing. We were rich for 11 year old and even some 48 olds but the money had very little meaning. Without my work I was lost. These days the entrepreneur is celebrated, I wonder if that can be backdated ?

Photo: Should have gone for these bad boys next!