Young merchants set up one-day shops inside Central Mall

Published 6:10 pm Saturday, July 25, 2015

Annual Kids, Inc. entrepreneur program teaches children business skills

Today’s kids are beefing up their business models, steering away from the traditional summer lemonade stand in the Texas heat and setting up shop inside existing retailers with their homemade goods.

Twenty budding companies — with tiny entrepreneurs overseeing every aspect from concept design to manufacturing, packaging and management — experienced the joys and occasional struggles of a one-day, pop-up business during the fourth annual Kids, Inc. event at Central Mall Saturday.

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

Wares included felt emoji pillows, pop culture-inspired fridge magnets, hair bows, canvas art, personalized school supplies, cupcakes, popcorn balls and more.

Sherrell Gillispie spent her time at the Kids, Inc. event helping her 9-year-old daughter, Aaris, “advocate reading and going back to school.” Aaris set up a display of books for young children next to a vibrant lemonade stand.

“Ice-cold lemonade, $1,” Aaris yelled across the mall. “When they come to get the lemonade, I show off all the books. Everything is $1.”

Sherrell said she was there to help Aaris with the business terminology and to make sure everyone received correct change.

“We’re mainly working on math today,” Sherrell said. “How much money did daddy invest?”

“He gave me $15,” Aaris said.

“OK, so we have to pay back $15, and all the rest of the money will be?” Sherrell asked.

“Mine,” Aaris said, smiling.

“Yes — but no,” Sherrell laughed. “The money left over is called profit.”

Austin Handley, 8, of Bridge City used several tables to display his Austin’s Fun Time creations — including puzzles, magnets, necklaces, games, bow and arrow sets, puppets, face masks and fairy wands.

Kayleigh Sadler, 9, of Groves poses in front of her business, Cupcake Concoctions, during the fourth annual Kids, Inc. entrepreneur program at Central Mall Saturday.

Kayleigh Sadler, 9, of Groves poses in front of her business, Cupcake Concoctions, during the fourth annual Kids, Inc. entrepreneur program at Central Mall Saturday.

Kayleigh Sadler, 9, of Groves walked around her Cupcake Concoctions stand in a chef’s hat and apron, directing her sisters and friends to tidy the table holding 13 different cupcake flavors.

“I decided to do cupcakes, because I want to have my own cupcake business when I grow up,” Kayleigh said. “I came up with all the flavors myself, just thinking of things I like or seeing something and trying to make it myself.

“My PB&J cupcake was the first one I came up with, because peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are my favorite. And over here, I’ve got a Tootie Fruity Fizzle — it’s a white cake with Fruity Pebbles mixed in with white icing and Pop Rocks on top.”

Beaumont natives and siblings Travis and Aubyn Moore, 9 and 7 respectively, stayed busy Saturday, answering questions about their Trav Co. brick phone and business card holders.

“We started making these about a year ago,” Travis said, “and this is the busiest we’ve ever been. We’re booming!

“Me and Aubyn design and make them, and dad’s our investor. I’m handling customer service today.”

Their father, David Moore, said as a business owner himself, he thought it was a terrific idea to give younger children an opportunity to start and run their own businesses.

“The packets they gave the kids when we got here has really led to some interesting conversations today,” David said. “It’s a lot of very basic and general information about how to run a business, and one of the things it hits on is customer service. Travis asked, ‘Well, what is that?’ and now he’s been working on his customer service skills all day.

“But I love this whole program, because no one really teaches kids about how to start a business. We’re talking about profits and losses, and figuring out how to turn their ideas into something that can give them spending money. Aubyn came up with these business card holders, and she wanted to charge people $0.50. We had to have that discussion, ‘OK, but if you spend $3 in Legos to put the card holder together, you shouldn’t give them away at $0.50.’ And it’s been fun watching them explain to people how they came up with their designs and showing off how to use their creations.”

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

Twitter: @crhenderson90