From strategic marketing placement to cost of goods and materials, every good business owner knows the secret to running a successful enterprise.
The pint-sized entrepreneurs of Lamar Elementary put those skills to the test on Friday during the annual Christmas market by selling handmade goods to learn how far they could stretch the dollar and still make a profit.
The market is part of a fifth-grade math lesson covering several learning standards such as fractions and percentages, counting change and net and gross income.
With a two-week deadline, students were participating tasked with creating a product, coming up with a business name and logo, budgeting expenses, marketing and lastly, making the sale.
“Basically, they built a small business from the ground up and became little entrepreneurs,” said Marci Walther, a fifth-grade teacher. “They (can) get a true taste of hard work that just genuinely pays off.”
To finance the business students could take out loans from their parents, which they have to pay back, but most stretched their creativity by using items found around the house.
It was easy for Reagan Owen to fashion a winning business by using her collection of beads to make bracelets and necklaces.
“Instead of talking to her friends on FaceTime, which is what she usually does, she does her homework and whatever else she has to do, and then she’s just sitting there working her fingers,” her mother, Lindsay Owen said. “Every time I would go in there, there’s just more and more — that’s how excited she was about it.”
Lindsay Owen spent that morning volunteering — keeping a watchful eye on business dealings as customers from different grades browsed a selection of handmade goods.
Inside the chaotic pop-up, students peddled everything from keychains to jewelry and ornaments to paintings—each creatively displayed to entice prospective buyers.
While some decided to make it on their own, others struck up a business partnership to maximize their revenue, like the festive duo who sold jars filled with a glittery substance resembling a galaxy.
For fifth-grader Stana Lowe, who sold reindeer food and candy cane reindeers, it was all about making money.
“I was super excited to make some dough, and help kids out by getting presents for their family and themselves if they couldn’t afford it,” Lowe said.
Lowe figured out that to make the sweet green, she needed to attract customers with a dazzling display and project fun energy.
“You just stand there yelling how much things are, and you gotta just get all hyped about it,” the Candy Cane Lane Ornaments owner said. “Then you present your things in a really cool way, like you set up Christmas trees and wrap up your desk to make it look all nice and pretty … It’s a lot of fun.”
Through the process, students learned valuable skills they could use in the real world such as customer service, financial accountability and what goes into being a small business owner.
The project seemed to have a positive impact on Emory Goover, who tried her hand at selling enchanted fairy necklaces.
“I learned that it really helps you with learning how to give people change,” Goover said. “I also learned that if you put a lot of effort into it, usually, it’ll turn out really good.”
Before the last grade could even visit the shops, some had sold out while others had to adjust their business models to ensure success.
One shop owner selling homemade lightsabers out of pool noodles slashed his prices to make a profit.
At the end, the entrepreneurs reflected on their business strategies.
“They discussed, like, how much should I make? How much do you have? What things I wish I would have done? Did I end up slashing prices? Did I end up following my business model,” Lindsay Owen said. “Did (sales) ebb and flow? Were there some ages that marketing would have been better?”
While they got to keep the profits made, Mrs. Walther had one more surprise for her business-savvy students — taxes.
“After they count up their money and they figure out ‘I had a profit or I had a loss,’ and then I throw a tax rate at them just so that they can see how much money the government would take in taxes if this were a real business,” Walther said.
Unlike the real government, the fictional government had a change of heart and let the young entrepreneurs keep their hard earned money in addition to the many life lessons they learned along the way.