The precocious tomato entrepreneur

Andrew’s bag of tomatoesEvery time I visit my parents, there’s a little pile of things to read on my bed when I arrive—a conglomeration of programs from my mother’s concerts, news clippings, and other things my parents think I should read or see.

(I can hear my Dad right now…”Things your mother thinks you should read or see!)

This past weekend, when I arrived at their house, the pile included something a little bit unusual: a paper bag that had clearly once held produce. Interesting to look at? Sure. But it wasn’t until my Mom said hello to a mother and her son in the aisle of a jazz concert Friday night that I learned the true significance.

“Andrew, did you enjoy the concert?” she asked. The boy nodded fiercely, a giant grin on his face. As he and his mother continued up the aisle away from us, my Mom said, “He’s such a great kid. And such a wonderful singer. And he sells tomatoes!”

“Wait,” I said. “He’s the one who sells the tomatoes in the bag?”

Clearly I had already mastered brand recognition. And, in fact, that’s who it was. I had met the famous Andrew: Children’s choir member, jazz lover, tomato salesman.

The scoop is this, according to my parents: Andrew sets up a big sign that advertises his wares; has negotiated some sort of deal with his grandfather, who supplies the tomatoes (and by deal, I do mean deal…my understanding is that Andrew’s supplier offers him something along the lines of a 100 percent discount on his supplies, which has to work out to a heck of a profit margin); wraps the tomatoes up in self-branded bags; and sells them to one and all within the neighborhood. [Note: this information has been updated to reflect inside scoop passed along in the comments below!]

It’s definitely a step above the average lemonade stand. I’m pretty impressed.

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16 Responses to “The precocious tomato entrepreneur”


  1. 1 Lydia October 25, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Hooray for Andrew! Even if his tomatoes weren’t great, you’d still want to support him. And if his tomatoes are wonderful, that’s even better.

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener October 25, 2007 at 7:44 am

    Lydia, definitely! I didn’t get to try his tomatoes, but if I make it out there for a visit next summer, I’ll have to stop at the stand and report back!

  3. 3 Sharon October 25, 2007 at 9:46 am

    P.S. from the Inadvertent Gardener’s mother…..Andrew’s tomatoes (or rather his grandfather’s tomatoes) are delicious, and the prices are often negotiable.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener October 25, 2007 at 9:52 am

    You heard it here, folks — great quality, negotiable prices — the only thing better is growing them yourself!

  5. 5 Robin (Bumblebee) October 25, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I love this story. I’m smiling from ear to ear thinking of Andrew’s entrepreneurial spirit–and early sense for a good brand!

    –Robin (Bumblebee)

  6. 6 Heather October 25, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    I’m thinking I’m missing out on a way to break even on the garden. My step-sons are pretty cute and they already labor for free…

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener October 25, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Robin, glad to have provided a smile!

    Heather, I agree — if you have the free labor, I think you should put it to good use…

  8. 8 Katiez October 26, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    What a great story – go Andrew! He’ll be a name to reckon with some day…!

  9. 9 Emma October 27, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Awesome story, Genie! Why didn’t I think of this stuff as a kid? I’m 40 now, think it’s too late? Seriously, it’s awesome that he’s showing that initiative. Katiez is right, It’ll pay dividends for him down the road with the experience he’s gaining now.

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener October 28, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Katiez, I totally agree!

    Emma, I hadn’t thought of it, either…and now I’m thinking I need to plant more tomatoes and start selling in the front yard. I doubt Iowa City would notice…at least not at first…so maybe I could avoid the whole permit thing… :-)

  11. 11 Andrew's mother October 29, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Just one small correction to the story–about half of the tomatoes are grown by Andrew in our back yard and the rest are from grandpa. Andrew’s are organic, we’re not sure about grandpa’s!

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener October 29, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Andrew’s mother, thanks for the correction! I’ll update the story to reflect that. Thanks!

  13. 13 Kylee October 30, 2007 at 2:39 am

    What a great story!

    And I had to giggle at what you said your mother does. I DO THE SAME THING WITH OUR GIRLS! They’re both grown and gone, and I lay stuff in their rooms, too.

    Moms. Gotta love ’em. :-)

  14. 14 inadvertentgardener October 30, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Kylee, how funny that you do it too! My Mom’s mother always did it, too, so I figured she got it there. I guess it’s a wider-spread phenomenon than I thought.

  15. 15 Gardener's Mom October 30, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    And the Inadvertent Gardener’s father’s mother left articles and other ‘interesting’ items around for everyone, too.

  16. 16 inadvertentgardener October 30, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Mom, it’s true…it seems to be endemic to mothers everywhere…but we love you for it regardless!


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