Just the Right Price
Kameelah Tompkins was determined to get an aquarium. She just needed to earn enough money at her family’s yard sale to afford it!
Kameelah wondered if everyone enjoyed having yard sales just so they could stick price tags on things. She was almost disappointed that she’d tagged most of the toys she wanted to sell already, but then she remembered her goal: Her parents had said she could keep all the money she made that day and put it toward her very own aquarium! As she peeled a little white sticker from its backing and slapped it onto an old board game she hadn’t played in a few years, she daydreamed about the different kinds of fish she wanted to get: The red-and-white goldfish, the goldfish with the googly eyes and maybe even a couple snails! Kameelah had wanted an aquarium for almost two years, but the year before, her mother had been laid off from her job so Kameelah’s allowance got cut in half, making it harder to save. Her mom found a new job a couple of months ago, but Kameelah was still short of her goal and hoped the yard sale would help get her there. After thinking for a moment, she decided to charge $3 for the board game she was holding and carefully marked its price on the sticker. Kameelah then came to her last item that needed a price tag: Her Beautiful Bella doll’s Marvelous Mansion. Kameelah had taken good care of it, and all its parts were intact — even the tiny furniture that had come with the set. She wrinkled her nose deep in thought. “Mom, how much do you think I should ask for this?” she asked.
Mrs. Tompkins, who was tagging a set of dishes on a table across from Kameelah, peered up at the dollhouse. “You’ve kept it in really great shape, honey. I think you could probably ask $15 or $20 for it.” Kameelah’s eyes lit up. If she sold all of the toys and books on the table, plus the dollhouse, that would put her over what she needed for the fish tank, accessories and the fish. She might even be able to get that cute shirt with the dancing cat on it she had seen at the mall last week, too! Soon, the Tompkins’ neighbors and even people they didn’t know started coming into their yard and checking out the goods they had for sale. Kameelah’s Aunt Keisha, who taught second grade, arrived and studied the $5 price tag on Kameelah’s collection of horse books. “Hmm, I think my reading class might enjoy these books,” she said. “Would you be willing to take $2 for all of them?” Kameelah narrowed her eyes in confusion. “But I have them priced at $5.” Mrs. Tompkins smiled from her table. “This is called bargaining, Kameelah,” she told her daughter. “It’s very common at yard sales. You negotiate a price you both agree on.” Kameelah nodded. This method seemed a bit odd — nothing like what happens at a real store — but she figured she’d give it a try. She turned back to her aunt. “How about $4.50?” she asked.
If she sold all of the toys and books on the table, plus the dollhouse, that would put her over what she needed for the fish tank, accessories and the fish.
“Hmm,” Aunt Keisha said. “$4?” “Sold!” Kameelah said, and handed her aunt the five books with a smile. “That was kind of fun, actually!” she giggled. While most of her toys and books sold fairly quickly, the dollhouse still sat on the table. Kameelah watched as one woman seemed to think about buying it, but then her husband reminded her they’d have to carry it 10 blocks home — so she left empty-handed. “Excuse me,” said Mr. Rodriguez, an elderly man who lived down the block. He was
holding Kameelah’s old toy cash register, which was marked $6. “Would you take $2 for this? I think my grandson would like it.” “How about $5?” Kameelah said. “Hmm,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “Let me think about it while I finish looking around.” Kameelah nodded, trying not to look disappointed. She’d loved that toy and felt it deserved a fair price. Then, a girl who looked a little younger than Kameelah walked up with her mom and started eyeing the dollhouse. Kameelah watched the girl “ooh” and “ahh” when she noticed the house had an elevator and hot tub. She lovingly touched the little furniture and laughed when she rang the dollhouse’s doorbell. The girl quickly found her mother and tugged her sleeve, then made her come over to the table to see it. “Look at this, Mommy!” the little girl said excitedly. “It’s like that one we saw at the toy store! Do you think I could get it, please?” “I’m not sure, Jamie,” her mother said. “I know we said we’d get you a dollhouse, but this one is still a little too expensive.” “But it cost way less than that other one,”
Jamie frowned in disappointment. Jamie’s mom smoothed her hair. “You know we have to watch what we spend with your dad out of work,” she replied. “Why don’t you pick out something else that’s a bit cheaper for now, and we’ll talk about it.” Jamie looked defeated, but nodded. Kameelah felt a huge pang of sympathy. She remembered what it was like when her mom was out of work. Not only was Kameelah’s allowance cut, her family had to get rid of their cable channels and stop going out to dinner or to the movies. Kameelah even had to skip a few months of her dance class. It was really tough — fun things had been few and far between. Plus, Kameelah had loved playing with that dollhouse and wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it as much as she did. “Excuse me,” Kameelah said, as she walked over to Jamie and her mom. “If you want the dollhouse, you can have it for free.” Jamie’s face brightened, but her mom looked confused. Kameelah even noticed Mr. Rodriguez raise his eyebrows. “But it looks almost new,” Jamie’s mom said. Kameelah shrugged. “It’s taking forever to get rid of it. You’d be doing me a huge favor.” Jamie clapped her hands and squealed in delight, and her mother grinned. “Thank you so much — as long as you’re sure.” “It’s all yours,” Kameelah said, sweeping her
Kameelah frowned. Was he going to ask for it for less than $2 now? she wondered.
arm toward the dollhouse. She watched as Jamie’s mother carried it to their car, where Jamie danced excitedly as the dollhouse was loaded into the trunk. Kameelah smiled, glad to know it would still be loved. From across the table, where a couple was admiring an old painting, Mrs. Tompkins caught Kameelah’s eye and mouthed, “Nice job!” Kameelah gave her mom a thumbs-up back. She felt good about her decision. Just then, Mr. Rodriguez walked back over. “I think I want to take another look at this cash register,” he told her. Mr. Rodriguez returned to the table and
picked up the cash register again. “You know, I think I was mistaken before,” he said. Kameelah frowned. Was he going to ask for it for less than $2 now? she wondered. “How so?” Kameelah asked politely. “Well, this might actually be a collector’s item,” he said. “Definitely not worth just $2. I think it might be worth more like $20!” Kameelah felt her eyes bug out, like that googly-eyed fish she wanted. “Really?” “Now, I don’t want to hear a word of argument about it,” Mr. Rodriguez said, as he opened his wallet. Then he handed Kameelah a crisp $20 bill and smiled. “I hope you have a good day, Kameelah.” “Thank you so much, Mr. Rodriguez!” Kameelah called after him. Then she did her own happy dance — and started dreaming up names for all of her new fish.