“It is a huge amount of fun, and I have learned many things like how to deal with money, how to deal with people of different ages, and how to play with my toys better,” seven-year-old Malak Ahmed told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Malak was the youngest participant in the Garage Sale for Kids, a children’s activity recently held at the Alexandria Sporting Club (ASC). This encouraged children and teenagers to set up their own stalls where they could sell items that were either handmade or were things they no longer use.
Malak had made her own accessories with her younger sister Farida, both of whom were keen to share their creative and colourful products. “We have made LE250 selling my old teddy bears, dolls, and accessories I no longer use,” Malak said. “But next time I will include more accessories and handmade products, as people just love them,” she added.
Malak wants to open her own fashion and accessories shop when she grows older. She had been through a first-time interview and had to fill in an application form to participate in the Garage Sale. “They asked me in the interview if I could add and subtract money, if I felt shy about dealing with people, and if I knew how to address others,” she said. “Thankfully, they took me, and now I have a table of my own at the sale,” she added.
The Garage Sale for Kids had been an activity held erratically at the club in the past. However, as new members of the board last April, some young mothers took over. They started holding different activities for children and teenagers. The rejuvenated Garage Sale is only one of them.
“We are new members of the committee, and we have decided to restore the children’s activities and also to add new ones. We organised the sale as a festival with activities to entertain children like face painting. It is not only a fair to buy and sell products,” said Farida Zalat, deputy chair of the Children and Teens Committee at the ASC.
The event was intended for children and teenagers from seven to 17 years old. Parental consent was a must. Though intended to be like any other garage sale, the committee put restrictions on products like electronics, crystals, expensive objects, and any breakable products that might harm children.
“Our children’s safety comes first,” said Zalat.
“Very excited, but also very shy.” With these words Rodina Ahmed Mohamed, 11, expressed her happiness at participating for her second time in the sale. “I was afraid the first time that no one would buy my products. But when I returned, I sold loads of new things. I was really happy,” she said.
Rodina and other children and teenagers are happy to be part of this competitive experience where they can learn about pricing, advertising, and displaying their stuff. “I don’t care about making money as much as about being happy and learning life experiences,” she added.
All kinds of accessories were the theme of the day. Many children are fond of making accessories, and each young member of the sale competed with their own handmade accessories to attract the customer’s eye. Ranging from beaded necklaces and bracelets to rings and earrings, the collections demonstrated enormous talent. Each table had its own unique products celebrating the achievement of young people in creating their own handicrafts.
Rodina, who wants to be an interior designer when she grows up, said she wanted to get involved in accessories workshops that teach young people how to make different kinds of accessories. “My mother taught me how to make accessories, but I want to learn more about how to finish the products well, how to make garments, and how to make silver products,” she said.
“I have sold almost all my products. I will buy new ones with half the money, and I will use the rest to buy things I need,” she added.
Mothers, grandmothers, and other children present at the club for the Garage Sale encouraged the young sellers. Of course, mothers are their children’s number one supporters, and they whole-heartedly share with them everything they know.
Asmaa Hegazi, the mother of Habiba Islam, eight, was thrilled that her daughter was participating in the event for the first time. She had been keen to encourage Habiba to go to an art centre where her daughter fell in love with making handmade products such as pottery, accessories, paintings, and other objects.
“We prepared for the event two weeks ago and started dividing our stuff into categories. The first are things we really need and still enjoy. The second are things that we can dispense with and want to sell in the sale. The third are things we want to donate to charity,” Hegazi said.
“These kinds of events make children responsible and aware of their societal responsibility. They learn financial stuff like how to calculate the money they have, how to value the products they have, and how to price them. They learn how to interact with people of all ages, both adults and the young.”
“Habiba gained interpersonal skills such as self-confidence, self-independence, and problem-solving skills from the event,” her proud mother said.
The Garage Sale also made many people realise how stuffed Egyptian homes are with unwanted and surplus stuff. It made parents realise the need to raise children who can be independent and reliable.
“Our houses are full of all kinds of stuff we do not need. We like preserving stuff, but the Garage Sale is one of the doors you can use to help you dispense with things you do not need,” said Nevine Saad, a member of the committee.
“I saw a large number of people waiting to take part. We also have a long waiting list, but hopefully they can take part in our upcoming sale,” Saad said.
The committee is keen to organise new activities for children like reading classes for children speaking different languages. “We started reading classes in Arabic, and this has been very popular. It is not only about reading a story but also about understanding it, being able to renarrate it, and being able to perform it,” she added.
“We collaborate with Techno Kids and with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina to organise different activities for children and teenagers.”
Boys were not heavily present at the event, and Ali Al-Batikhi, 17, represented his entire gender through his marvelous presentation skills. This third-year secondary grade student had a stand full of colourful handmade accessories. Al-Batikhi has taken his talent to a professional level on his Instagram page “Funky Jewellery” started three years ago.
“I am a huge fan of accessories, which I learned all by myself. I saw tutorials on Pinterest and other platforms and started working on my own small business that I hope will grow with me when I go to university next year,” he concluded.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 July, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.