Seven-year-old Synammin Byrne (left) buys a Kewl Komix product from schoolmate PJ Stokes

Students show off new business skills at trade show

Grade 5 and 6 students at Little Mountain Elementary School completed program to teach financial literacy.

Grade 6 student P. J. Stokes demonstrated he learned the basics of business when negotiating sales of his Kewl Komix at a school trade show on Tuesday.

Stokes was part of a six-week program at Little Mountain Elementary School that taught students financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The program concluded with the 50 or so participating students selling their own creative products to schoolmates and the public.

Stokes created a small eight-page comic, photocopied in colour, that, he explains, follows mystical creatures going on an adventure to save an island that’s at risk of exploding.

When a young customer came up wanting to buy the comic, Stokes learned that the customer lacked purchasing power.

Stokes offered the comic, to which the customer replied, “I don’t have that much.”

“How much do you have? It’s only $1.25,” Stokes said.

“I only have a dollar.”

Quickly: “Would you like to make a donation?” Stokes pointed to the SPCA donation box on the table.

The customer dropped his loonie into the box.

After the interaction, Stokes had limited time for interviews.

“If you can excuse me, I have to chat to some more customers,” he said. With a very low overhead, at the end of the day Stokes made $37, on gross sales of $38. He will give $5 to the SPCA.

Another Grade 6 student, Klarice Staaf, loved attention for her Bath Bomb.

She created the crystalized bluish-grey rock out of citric acid, baking soda, water, olive oil, and food colouring. It fizzes in bath water, which Staaf said is good for relieving anxiety.

“I’m selling it because it was close to Mother’s Day, and moms can use it if they’re stressed,” Staaf said.

Already spending $26 on materials, she made the financial decision to exclude the optional and expensive essential oil. On trading day, Staaf made $14 on $40 gross sales, and will give $1 to Free the Children.

During the program, students learned about types of businesses, cost analysis, marketing, market research, advertising, and managing money. They also spent a day researching charities.

Teacher Michele Bugden hopes the exercise reveals hidden talents.

“It’s something completely different. This is a completely different skill they didn’t know they had, like selling skills, and creativity,” she said.

Bugden especially loves seeing students who don’t excel in the traditional classroom environment find a unique talent.

“We’re always thinking about how to give kids the skills they need in the 21st century,” she said.

Student Kade White created 70 two-feet long hockey sticks, which he said he cut and sanded out of a sheet of light wood, with supervision from his dad.

“Paint them, play with them, and be cool!” The table sign read in jagged hand-writing.

The hockey sticks were selling out at the relative bargain rate of four for $5. At the end of the day, Kade grossed $104. However, after paying back his materials loan, he profited $13. He will give $10 of that to charity.

Even with the already low price tag, Kade said he sold them for one dollar to little kids, “Because that’s all they have.”

Students were required to donate at least 10 per cent of profits to a non-profit organization. But some went beyond the requirement, such as 11 year-old Aiden Haagensen. He will give his entire profit of $49 of his hair bow ties — a design inspired by his sister — to Free the Children.

Teacher Michele Budgen estimates that her class has raised over $200 for various charities.

Haagensen urged on his sales by a multimedia setup, consisting of pop music from a small speaker, and a laptop streaming a PowerPoint presentation with photos and descriptions of the product and charity.

He found he couldn’t move his product at the original $2, so he “charged them down” to $1.

“Now they’re selling good,” he said.

As part of the program, Haagensen said he learned how to talk to customers. For success, you must maintain eye contact, be happy, and look like you want to be there.

Some entrepreuners sold out of product during the show, and were taking orders for more.

The program is a teaching package by PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs and Envision Financial.

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