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Making money at the market

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

Kyler Brinker, 12, of Carroll shows his various birdfeeders and birdhouses to a farmers market customer.Maddison Rotert, 10, and her brother Gage, 5, from Halbur, enjoyed selling gourds, snacks and more at the Carroll Farmers Market.

CARROLL – Though Maddison Rotert, 10, and her brother, Gage, 5, are new vendors at the Carroll Farmers Market in late September, their charming smiles and contagious enthusiasm quickly attracted a steady stream of customers who bought pumpkins, gourds and homemade “puppy chow” snack mix.

“Our mom thought it would be good for us to learn about selling at the farmers market, and it’s pretty fun,” said Maddison, a fourth-grade student from Halbur.

The kids worked hard all summer to raise their crops but didn’t plan on selling at the farmers market until their mother, Mindi, saw an article in the paper about Kids Vendor Day.

“Maddison loves to sell things, and Gage loves to help in the garden, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for both of them,” Mindi Rotert said.

The popular Kids Vendor Day returned for the second time this season at the Carroll Farmers Market on Sept. 26. Students under age 18 had the chance to sell their crafts, produce, woodworking items, artwork and other homemade or homegrown items. The event built on the success of the first Kid Vendor Day on Aug. 12, when eight students sold homemade jewelry, birdhouses, produce, baked goods, sewing projects and craft items.

Kirby Axman, a first-time vendor at the Carroll Farmers Market, had a bumper crop of pumpkins to sell in late September.

“Events like this get kids excited about learning, and they see what it takes to be a vendor at the market,” said Patty Axman, of the M&M Divide RC&D in Carroll, whose son, Kirby Axman, 12, raised a bumper crop of pumpkins this year and sold them at the market.

“They learn about money,” Patty Axman said, “including how to make change, they improve their sales and communication skills, and they build their self confidence.”

Hobby evolves into something bigger

Emily Dvorak, 11, a sixth-grade student in Carroll, made $20 by 9 a.m. during her first time at the farmers market with her handmade necklaces and bracelets.

The proprietor of Miss Em’s Jewels learned her jewelry-making skills from her grandmother and thought it would be interesting to sell her wares at Kid Vendor Day.

Kyler Brinker, 12, of Carroll shows his various birdfeeders and birdhouses to a farmers market customer.

“I like to work with lots of different colors,” said Dvorak, who can craft a bracelet in about half an hour. “I’ve had fun at the farmers market and would sell here again.”

Kid Vendor Day is a great opportunity for students, noted Emily’s mother, Lynne Dvorak. “Emily has lots of good ideas, and jewelry-making is something she really enjoys,” Dvorak said. “The farmers market is an excellent way for her to learn about business and have fun along the way.”

Birds drive business for vendor

For Kyler Brinker, 12, of Carroll, the profits generated at Kid Vendor Day from his homemade bird feeders and bird houses have allowed him to purchase more cacti and exotic plants for his prized collection.

When the sixth-grade student sold his products at the first Kid Vendor Day in August, he was featured in the local newspaper, which helped boost his business. This experience prompted him to return to the market in September to earn more money to put towards a 10-by-12-foot greenhouse he wants to buy.

“I like to make my products from recycled items,” said Brinker, who credits his father, Kevin Brinker, with teaching him woodworking skills. “My barn board bird houses sell really well, because they’re unique.”

The venture has also expanded Brinker’s knowledge of both birds and business. Ask him about his bird feeders with the square mesh, for example, and he’ll explain that these hold peanuts or sunflower seeds and attract cardinals or red-bellied woodpeckers. Some feeders are designed for mixed seeds, while others dispense the seeds that attract indigo buntings and goldfinches.

“I made most of this stuff last winter when there wasn’t much snow and I couldn’t go snowmobiling,” said Brinker, who had made $75 halfway through the Sept. 26 market and noted that his bird feeders generated a lot of interest.

To expand his product line for the second Kid Vendor Day, Brinker and his brother, Kody, 10, sold bags of thistle seeds and mixed seeds. Brinker is already planning ahead for future sales opportunities. “By keeping track of my sales, I’ve learned what sells and what doesn’t. I also get a lot of ideas from magazines like Birds and Blooms, so I’ll be ready for the farmers market next year.”

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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