Izzy Weitzman is sitting at the kitchen table putting Magic, The Gathering cards into packets for pricing.
Each one, he explains, entitles the bearer in the role-playing game to acquire mystical creatures and sorcerer’s spells.
Some of them, he says, are worth a lot of money: He saw the Invention Edition of Lotus Petal on eBay for $250.
“It’s not a card I really like,” he says. “I’m only asking $150 for it.”
Izzy’s been collecting for a couple of years. He thinks he has about 700 cards.
He also has 350 to 400 Pokemon cards. He’s not interested in that game any more and hopes someone buys all of them.
Abey, Izzy’s brother, writes short stories. He’s made some into booklets to sell.
Abey is 13 and Izzy is 11.
Izzy’s Cards and Stories Emporium made its debut at Astoria-based Muyu Market, a place where kids buy and sell, right before Christmas 2016.
Josh Weitzman, a stagehand at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and Michelle Noris, president of Norfast Engineering, serve not only as their parents but also as their business advisers.
“I made $90 there, but I bought a stuffed animal for $15,” says Izzy, who “owns” the store. “I used the money to buy some more cards through Amazon.”
Abey, who made $30, is saving for a Ferrari.
For Abey, sharing his stories isn’t merely about making money.
Cerebral palsy makes it difficult for him to speak, so he communicates via the written word.
An eighth-grader at the Henry Viscardi School in Albertson, Abey explores the physical world in a motorized wheelchair.
When he’s ready to put down his thoughts, his mother picks him up and holds him upright in front of a specially configured laptop in the living room where he joyfully taps his chest against large color-coded buttons that correspond to letters of the alphabet.
Using this “academic achievement assistant,” which was designed and assembled by his father for in-home and in-school use, Abey painstakingly writes.
As every letter shows up on the screen, his big brown eyes light up, and he smiles.
He can do about 1,800 “switch hits” a day, spread out over four to five sessions of 15 to 30 minutes each. That’s 150 to 200 words daily.
He gets his ideas, he taps, “sometimes from something I have seen or read but often times I just get an idea and the story comes to me slowly.”
Right now, he’s working on a story that involves a class of young children and a psychotic teacher. He’s also doing a feature for Kids Spirit magazine, where he’s been published before.
But he has bigger things in mind.
When he taps that he wants to write the great American novel and win the Pulitzer, Izzy Googles the prize on the family laptop and starts reading the submission instructions aloud.
$15,000! Wow! That’s what you win.
It’s not enough for a Ferrari, but it sure beats selling Abey’s stories for $2 each.
Izzy, who is a sixth-grader at The 30th Avenue School PS/IS 300, also has a clear eye on his future.
“I’d like to do computer coding and competitive magic,” he says. “And I’d like to do pro tours. They are really important.”
Izzy started his first business when he was 3. Bolt, which employed Josh and had its own business cards, existed only to fix things for his mom around their house.
It didn’t last very long because its prices were, Michelle complains, sky high.
“One time he charged me $200 to change the batteries in my smoke detectors,” she says, adding that this was outrageous because she had paid for the batteries. “I negotiated it down to $25.”
Izzy still doesn’t think this was such a big bill. The work, after all, was excellent, he reminds her.
His second company, called The Company, was set up to build things. Although it was in existence for five years, it didn’t construct a single thing.
Izzy shrugs; sometimes you just have to know when it’s time to move on.
In addition to the store, Abey and Izzy also have been involved in creative endeavors.
Two years ago, Abey wrote, directed and edited a short film, The Nugget, which stars Izzy, its producer.
They don’t think it’s weird that they are kidpreneurs. In fact, they encourage others their age to give it a try.
“My advice is that you either have to have a creative idea that gets people’s attention or sell your old toys,” Abey taps.
Izzy and Abey will, undoubtedly, embark upon new adventurous ventures together.
They don’t know whether they always will make money, but they’re sure going to have a lot of fun trying.
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; @nancyruhling on Twitter; nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com, astoriacharacters.com.
Copyright 2017 by Nancy A. Ruhling