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Buy Your Sled in Summer

It was a hot July day nearly 25 years ago. A few miles from our home was a hardware store that I drove by several times a week. For months I’d noticed a sled in the store’s side window. Winter had long passed, and the sled stood sentry as spring turned to summer. One Saturday in July as I passed the store the sled caught my eye, I drove a block past the store and decided to turn around. My wife and I had recently become parents, our son would turn one in a few months and I was sure he would soon have siblings. A sled can bring great joy to a child.

The hardware store was one of the “old-timey” stores, with old wood flooring that creaked as you walked, and a melting pot of aromas. They sold more agricultural stuffs than hardware. There was no mistaking this place for Home Depot. I ventured towards the back where I’d seen the sled, as I reached up to pluck it from its perch, dust fell like snow.

The sled was a fancy Rubbermaid sled, teal and purple, capable of carrying at least two riders. The sticker said $89. I found a clerk and asked would they take $25 for the sled, he looked it over, said “let me see” and headed to the front of the store. A few moments later he returned - “$30.”

We still have that sled. All four Palmer kids (and countless friends) have careened down our driveway and nearby streets. Heck, I’ve ridden it many a time, once down Grant Avenue for what seemed to be about a half-mile.

And it taught me a valuable lesson about markets.