Weekend Ticket: Young merchants to take over Central Mall

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, July 23, 2015

Annual Kids, Inc. entrepreneur program set for Saturday

Young entrepreneurs are wrapping up production on an assortment of homemade wares to set up the cutest business day in Port Arthur this weekend.

Twenty budding companies — with even greener leaders filling every role from concept design to manufacturing and management — will open for business one day only, next to T.J. Maxx inside Central Mall Saturday, for the fourth annual Kids, Inc. entrepreneur program.

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Weekend TicketJodie Galloway, Central Mall specialty leasing and marketing manager, said Kids, Inc. 2015 — limited to ages 6 to 15 — will offer the most businesses led by young merchants in the program’s history.

“We encourage creativity and salesmanship from our young entrepreneurs, and of course, we expect each of our businesses to have very minimal parental involvement,” Galloway said. “But we got so many great submissions this year we needed help narrowing the list down. We had 26 businesses submit entries, and then the Central Mall Facebook fans voted on their favorite. The Top 20 were invited to join us Saturday to set up their ‘stores’ inside the mall.”

Galloway said there’s a “large variety” in products this year — ranging from hair bows and personalized school supplies to origami and natural soaps.

“We’ve got a lot of really creative kids this year,” Galloway said. “One girl does hand-painted canvas art that’s really great, and another little girl is making these emoji pillows that are really cute. We have one little boy returning to Kids, Inc. — a 12 year old with Asperger’s (Syndrome) who’s written a short story.

“One boy has created all these fun games, finger puppets and puzzles, and another boy is making these cell phone cradles out of Legos. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year, seeing all their items out and watching learn what it’s like to run a real business.”

Galloway said other entrepreneurs went the food business route. Among the temporary kiosks Saturday will be vendors with candy bouquets, cupcakes, popcorn balls and, of course, lemonade.

“What I like is a lot of the kids are working towards a specific goal,” Galloway said. “The little girl making personalized school supplies said she’s saving her money for a mission trip to Canada. One of the boys had his mom call earlier today to ask if he could wear a suit — so these kids are taking this all very seriously.”

Galloway said the goal of Kids, Inc. is to provide the young store owners with the opportunity to experience the “joys and demands — and yes, even the occasional frustrations — of owning and running” a real business.

The fourth annual Kids, Inc. event is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday near T.J. Maxx inside Central Mall, 3100 Hwy 365 in Port Arthur.

Galloway said most, if not all, of the vendors will accept cash only.

For more information, visit the “Central Mall Port Arthur” Facebook page.

Twitter: @crhenderson90