It was the perfect setting for young entrepreneurs to promote their services: a church social hall full of people who care about their homes.
Three young people signed up to represent their businesses Saturday morning at the Basements N'At workshop put on by the Greater Park Place Neighborhood Association at Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church in Wilkinsburg, but only Evan Neely, a trombonist who started a business to buy himself a new horn, showed up.
Once a year, the neighborhood association holds a seminar on aspects of homeownership. This year's focused on basements, but added the opportunity for young people to promote their businesses.
Evan, 15, of Park Place and a student at Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts school, plays in the Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra and the River City Brass Band and wanted a better instrument.
He started his business with a lawn mower his family picked up at a yard sale and a desire for a $2,500 trombone.
"I said, 'I can't do that, you're going to have to make some money,' " Evan's mother, Melissa Neely, said. "I told him I would give him $500 toward a trombone."
So, Evan, the oldest of three boys in the Neely household, put a notice on the Park Place Facebook page.
Last summer he was mowing so many lawns that he was pulling in $120 a week.
The beauty of Park Place is that the lawns are small. Evan can knock one off in about 10 minutes for $10 or $15. It's an extra $5 to bag the clippings and another $5 for trimming the edges of the lawn.
"I was able to get a perfect 90-degree angle," he said about the trimming. "When I'm done, it looks like a carpet. I'm very proud of my 90-degree angle."
He also has salvaged two lawn mowers from neighbors' trash that he has rehabilitated for his own use, though his first mower, bought at the yard sale, is his favorite: He likes how it is held together with duct tape.
At the end of the basement seminar, Evan distributed cards to the neighbors who stopped by his table. He also had a map showing which blocks were in his business territory. He doesn't travel far with his lawn service since he doesn't drive.
In May, when he is 16, will he buy a truck? His mother quickly answered for him, "No."
The other entrepreneurs in the neighborhood, a girl who baby-sits and another boy who mows lawns, did not show up for the event.
Ms. Neely gave the perfect explanation for their absence: "They're teenagers."
Ann Belser: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1699.