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Kids’ Day at the Farmers’ Market

Abby and Ella sold their hand-sewn sport bags, clothes and pillows at the farmers market’s Youth Day.
Abby and Ella sold their hand-sewn sport bags, clothes and pillows at the farmers market’s Youth Day.

By Carolyn Grodinsky.
From pesto to dog biscuits, from sushi to wallets made of duct tape, children sell a wide range of self-made items each year at the Capital City Farmers’ Market’s Youth Day, coming up this season on August 16 at the market’s regular State Street location. You never know what you’ll find. This year, for instance, one 11-year-old merchant has proposed selling “live-action role-playing foam weapons,” while another will be marketing eggs and alpaca wool. Whatever they are selling, the market gives the kids the opportunity to be entrepreneurs for a day.
Actually, it’s a lot more than a day. The kids plan for weeks in advance, considering such questions as, What am I going to make and how much can I sell? How will I design my booth? How much should I charge? The kids learn how to market, how to plan, how to interact with customers, and how to stand out from the other kids selling their items. The young vendors, ages five to 15, must operate under the same guidelines as the market’s usual vendors—growing their own foods, baking any items themselves, and making their own crafts. Any food products for sale—carrot cake, say—must include at least one locally-sourced farm product.
Twelve-year-old Keira Wilson has sold her fruit shish kebabs for two years. Her dad bought the fruit and she figured out the price per stick—one dollar—after paying him back for the ingredients. She lucked out with her first customer when he wanted to buy one stick but she didn’t have change for his five-dollar bill. He left with five fruit kabobs.
Because there are so many children selling on Youth Day—last year some 25 kids participated—the young vendors set up their displays, prices and lists of ingredients carefully. They understand fully that in order to sell well, their products need to stand out.
Selling isn’t the only way that kids can join in the day’s fun. Children who aren’t selling can enjoy a variety of other events, including the Woodbelly Pizza pizza contest, whose winner gets a free pizza; the Twisted Sisters Pottery clay class, where children mold creatures and pots; and a market scavenger hunt with prizes from market vendors.
Children that participate in Youth Day get a taste of what lies behind the scenes at the market, and learn just how much work it is to sell. In the course of the day, they also do some shopping, buying items from the regular vendors as well as their fellow young merchants.