Kids goods

5th graders learn and earn money

PLYMOUTH — Hundreds of local children learned lessons in lifelong entrepreneurship on Thursday while achieving beautiful change in the process.

The second annual Plymouth Children’s Trade Fair has been moved to Plymouth South High School this year to try and accommodate the throngs of shoppers. Some 265 fifth graders, more than double the number at last year’s inaugural fair, participated, setting up stalls that stretched across the school, filling both the school gymnasium and cafeteria.

Fifth-grade students from the city’s eight elementary schools set up businesses for the fair. Working with volunteers from the local business community, they developed business plans earlier this fall, then manufactured and marketed goods and services for sale.

Students sold a variety of handmade jewelry and artwork, an assortment of cakes and cookies, pet treats, sports memorabilia, candles, soap, honey and just about anything that grabbed their imagination. They put everything up for sale Thursday night and for two hours the school was buzzing with buying, selling and learning.

The second annual Plymouth Children's Trade Fair attracted over 250 fifth year attendees and hundreds of proud parents, friends and relatives eager to shop.

Stephen Cole, executive director of the Plymouth Regional Economic Development Foundation, which co-hosted the event, said police estimated up to 4,000 people passed through the school during the two-hour fair.

A student came up with his business plan after going to the waterfront festival with his mother last summer and seeing a vendor selling homemade soap for $7 a bar. The boy researched the process, assembled the ingredients, and made his own soaps, which he sold for $3.50 a bar.

Henry Morril won an award for his most organized presentation at the Plymouth Children's Business Fair.

Another student harvested honey from his grandfather’s beehives in Carver and sold jars for $12. “He sold out, and he wasn’t the only one,” Cole said. “There was phenomenal activity last night. A lot of money has changed hands.

Cole said he spoke with several students who have pocketed more than $500 in profit from their night shifts. Assuming each student earned only half the money, more than $50,000 was spent during the fair, he said.

Aubrey Condon and Tess Morini donned chef's hats to sell their delicious treats.

Cole’s organization partners with Plymouth Public Schools and the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce to organize the fair. The first fair, held last fall at West Elementary School, saw 120 student companies.

Organizers originally planned to hold this year’s fair at Memorial Hall to accommodate the crowds, but then realized they would need even more space and moved the venue to Plymouth South. Cole said an even bigger venue will be needed next year if the fair continues to grow. “It’s proof that Plymouth needs a convention center, when you can’t hold a Year 5 event,” he said.

Ellie Kirshner and Yaraslava Kazakova welcome shoppers to their BoookStore.

Cole said the event builds workforce development skills attendees will never forget and opens up the possibility of career paths the foundation seeks to instill in young minds. The promise of profit is also a strong incentive.

“There is no better opportunity than this event to teach kids about responsible behavior, money management, giving back to the community and creating a product that gives value, by raising money for them. ourselves in time for the holidays,” Cole said.