The Start of Our Normal

9 Apr


May of 2011


I sat in the sterile community college classroom watching yet another movie as the professor sat there, likely on her Facebook page liking posts about kittens and browsing Buzzfeed. What made this Tuesday morning even more unbearable was the fact that my three year old son and two year old daughter were sick and at the sitters. If I missed another psychology class this semester I would fail it due to attendance. I could watch the movie from HOME with my sick babies by my side instead of with someone who WASN’T their mom. But, alas, I was here paying thousands of dollars for this class and hundreds of dollars on a textbook I had yet to open.

I am a pretty even mannered person. A stereotypical Libra. But, something inside me that day, call it a mothers instinct, caused me to stand up and walk right out of that classroom without a word to anyone. I could feel the burning stares in the back of my head as I walked out and let the door slam behind me. I walked down the hall, picked up pace across the courtyard and took a deep breath as I entered the bookstore’s building. I wanted to sell back the $250 book that had been serving as a literal weight on my shoulders the past few months.

I took the book out of my backpack with shaking hands and asked how much they would give me for this brand new book that I had paid $250 for mere months before. Their response? NOTHING. They could give me NOTHING for that brick that had been weighing my life down…and they could give me $15 for the other $650 in books I got that semester. I was baffled and speechless. I was counting on that money back. I had two kids in diapers. My husband made minimum wage. I had just dropped out of college in an instant impulsive way. I NEEDED that money.

I walked to my car with the gas tank dangerously close to that dreaded red line. I had no money to fill it so I was praying I would make it home. I tossed the apparent fire kindling into the backseat and I cried….and cried…and cried.

When I got home I felt like a kid confessing doing something really stupid to their parents. My husband listened to me with odd composure. To this day I don’t know why he remained so calm. I told him I would figure it all out. I would find some way to make us some money so we could pay the bills that month and the next month I would figure out a way again. I hugged my kids tight and went to the car to get those heavy books, the bitter reminder of my failures at school. The reminders that I was clearly going to become another teen mom statistic.

I brought the books inside, dropped them onto the kitchen table and, I am not sure why, but I decided to look up those books on Amazon. I don’t remember if I was angry and wanted to somehow prove to myself that they had value. Maybe I wanted to torture myself. I don’t know. But, as I looked up the books I slowly began to calm down. A few were worth nearly what I paid for them. But I had no clue how to sell anything online and it was probably well above my skill level.

I sat up the entire night reading every single free resource I could find about selling on Amazon. I joined Facebook groups, I watched YouTube videos, I read the Amazon Sellers Handbook cover to cover. As the sun rose the next morning I had bags under my eyes, but I had also listed sixteen books for sale on Amazon. And by the time the world had woken up I had two sales totaling $35 dollars. Enough to fill my gas tank.

Fast forward two weeks.

I had read even more blogs and had even learned how to ship the items I sold. I made a grand total of $650 off those textbooks and a few books we had at home. I was starting to wonder if I could make this an actual business. We used that $650 to purchase some bookshelves and a huge lot of books we found on Craigslist. We were still very clueless, but decided we were going to go all in and try to make this work. I spent weeks in our dusty garage looking up every last book we got. I spent another week listing them and organizing them by title on the shelving in our basement.

It was working. I was starting to make money. At the age of 22 I was telling people I owned my very first business, Lizzy’s Learning Corner.

That was almost three years ago.

In those three years I changed my business name, moved out of the garage and into a warehouse space. I don’t even sell books anymore. Selling books was boring to me. I eventually branched out into brand new toys and games and much of my inventory is now stored at Amazon’s warehouses. I branched out to start selling on eBay and eventually Etsy.

This business that started out as a desperate attempt to fill my gas tank and restore some pride has turned into my life, and in February of 2013 my husband left his nearly minimum wage job and made the business his life, too. At the age of 25 I can now confidently say I work for myself.

And, the biggest perk? When my kids are sick I get to be at home with them and don’t run the risk of failing a class or getting fired from a minimum wage job.

This is my barely vintage life, and I am excited to share my journey.

One Response to “The Start of Our Normal”

  1. Grandma April 10, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Love a success story!

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