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Grand Island Chamber of Commerce: KidBiz draws scores of businesses to Town Commons

by jmaloni

•Taken from the July 3 Island Dispatch

Mon, Jul 21st 2014 03:55 pm

by Larry Austin

Jim Sharpe, chairman of KidBiz, said it was great day to be in the Town Commons Saturday, but that's usually the case for the Chamber of Commerce event that provides children a chance to run their own businesses.

Sharpe noted that in the 18-year history of KidBiz on the Island, there had been only one rainy and overcast day. Another recurring theme, Sharpe said, is that the kid business owners also seem to rise to the occasion each year.

The business owners "exceeded my expectations of their participation," Sharpe said. "I'm very impressed."

"They came out with creativity again, they came out with great products, they did a great job of selling, and they were very engaged in their program this year," he said. "I think the enthusiasm has not died for this program and I can only see great days in front of us."

More than 100 children took part, he said, with about 78 businesses and partnerships.

Skylar Koschuk, who owns Bling It On with Morgan Santorio, said the jewelry business was "pretty good" Saturday.

"We get to see all our friends and see other things that people are selling. We get to make money and be with our friends," Koschuk said of the benefits of KidBiz.

Bethany Kulikowski of Bethany's Bows sold bows made from duct tape, lace and rhinestones. She wanted to do KidBiz "because I wanted to make money this summer, and I didn't really want to do too many chores around the house." She was happy after making more than 32 sales midway through the five-hour event.

An orientation session for the KidBiz parents went well, Sharpe said. "The response I got from parents was off the charts," he said, noting that parents are support staff for their children; the kids control their own program, products, merchandising, marketing, inventory and pricing.

"This program is bottom driven meaning the students drive the parents to be here," Sharpe said. "It's not the other way around."

Parents don't even give the children working capital to buy a business license, but loan them money, Sharpe said.

Jennifer Walowitz said her children were learning a lot in their first KidBiz.

"They're learning the value of products and how much it costs to make something and then how you figure what you then go and sell it for," Walowitz said.

The parents "aren't just going to give you money. So that was a good lesson," Walowitz said.

One KidBizzer said she learned valuable tips from watching the more veteran businesses.

"Isn't that the business market, though? The business market looks at what is working and what's not working," Sharpe said. "So this is no different than the whole business population of Grand Island.

They're all driven by what is the secret of success."

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