Creativity Magazine

Selling the Broom

By Vickilane
Selling the Broom
A re-post -- Christmas prep has a stranglehold on me just now.

Some years ago, John was talking with a local store owner -- a man who also owned a great deal of property in the little community around the store. The store had belonged to his daddy before him, the man said, and it was due to his daddy's good business sense that the family was so well off.
And he did it all by selling a broom.
It was during the Depression, when it was common practice for a farmer to buy on credit and settle up, as best he could, when the crops were sold. Folks would come in to the store and make their few purchases -- salt, baking powder, coffee, maybe some wheat flour -- and the storekeeper would total them up and put the total in his books.
And there was always a charge for a broom.
This was the scam. The enterprising storekeeper kept a broom leaning up against the counter. He always added it into the total. Usually the shopper just signed the tab or made his mark without noticing the extra sum on the ticket. On the rare occasion that it was noticed, the shopkeeper merely said, "Oh, sorry, I thought you wanted that," and scratched off the charge.
"I don't know how many time Daddy must of sold that broom," the son told John, chuckling at the memory. "But I'll tell you one thing -- when he died, we found a shoebox stuffed full of deeds."
Because, of course, when the farmer's crop failed, as they sometime did, the next step was to offer his farm as security against the ever-growing debt he had to the village store-keeper.
I wonder how many brooms it took to bankrupt a farmer.
And I wonder how the son could think it was a funny story.
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