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Once a Salesman . . .

As many of you know, I've sold real estate for 30+ years in Arlington, Virginia, and I love it. I began my career never having balanced a checkbook, even though I tried unsuccessfully. My husband encouraged me because I loved meeting people and the idea of pairing them with the right homes. Call me the Dolly Levy of houses. 

Even without certain basic math skills, I already had a long history of selling.  I was the kid who sold more Girl Scout cookies than anyone in the troop. Of course it was a pretty easy sell at 35 cents per box. My most ambitious childhood selling project began with a Christmas gift when I was 8. 

Santa brought me a weaving loom with a batch of loops to make potholders and I was fascinated with the endless possibilities of color and design.

A favorite pattern had an intersecting color block in the center, with a contrasting color on the sides. For another, I alternated colors, sometimes every other loop, other times every two or three loops. I grew fussy about the content of the loops, favoring all cotton instead of synthetic materials.  Since I, too, used them, I soon learned that the synthetic stuff conducted heat instead of buffering it.

After my mom couldn’t cram any more potholders into her drawer, I began to sell them.  First my customers were my neighbors, who probably just bought one or two to be neighborly. Eventually, I was knocking on doors of total strangers, blocks away. As the ladies tried my potholders, they saw that the cotton ones really did work better, and they began to give me special orders. 

If the lady had a yellow kitchen, for example, she’d order several in yellow and white, in various patterns.  And I took special holiday orders, too. I made dozens of green and red ones for Christmas. As the business grew, my long-suffering mother constantly ferried me to the dime store to find more weaving materials. Eventually it became impossible to find the cotton loops I preferred and I closed up shop. 

Oddly enough I can’t remember how much I charged for the things. My fun really wasn’t about the profit, although I liked the extra spending money.  It was the idea of seeing people happy with something I had created.  Call it my Old School attempt at a cottage industry.   


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