Buchanan Farmer’s Market celebrates young entrepreneurs

BUCHANAN — Saturday morning at the Buchanan Farmer’s Market, Buchanan resident Emily Chase stood under a blue tent as she waited for customers to step inside and buy one of the dozens of colorful scrunchies she and her sister had hand sewn.

“I’ve always really liked scrunchies and collected them, so when COVID hit, and we were stuck at home, I decided to make a scrunchie out of some old pajamas I had,” Chase said. “I was just sewing them because I like sewing them, but [my grandma] suggested I could sell them and make some money.”

At only 17 years, Chase was excited as it was her first time selling at the market — much like more than a dozen other young vendors at the market that day.

The aisles of the Buchanan Farmer’s Market looked different than usual as the market hosted its first Young Entrepreneurs’ Day. For the event, fresh faces were scattered across the Buchanan Commons as children and teens from across southwest Michigan sold their handmade goods and edible treats or advertised their services.

According to Beth Chubb, chairman of the market board, Young Entrepreneurs’ Day came about after one of the board members came up with the idea. Chubb said the interest in the event from area youth was more significant than she could have imagined and that she was excited to see young people fill the market with their ideas.

“We thought this would be a good summer to do it and get the kids involved,” she said. “It was one of those things that just took off, and the kids were excited to do it. [Young entrepreneurs] are our future, and they are excited about doing things.”

Equally as excited were the young entrepreneurs showcased at the market. Some sold baked goods, while others sold crafts, while others still sold lemonade. Some participants donated proceeds to charity, while others looked to learn more about the business trade.

From Niles, Lexi Troup, 13, sold picture frames. Making picture frames was a skill she learned at the Niles STEAM Room after an American Electric Power grant allowed her to take part in an educational course on entrepreneurship and provided seed money for her to get her business off the ground.

“I’m excited to be here,” she said. “It feels like it has gone by really fast.”

Sarah Brackett, Lilly Brackett and Katie Ferrell sold baked goods for Beacon’s Children’s hospital. The Bracketts had spent time in the NICU as infants and wanted to give back to a place that helped them and continues to help countless children.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Sarah Brackett said.

Jesse Layne, 17, of Buchanan, advertised his lawn and property maintenance business, Big Dawg Enterprises, at the market Saturday. He said he was happy to be celebrated as a young entrepreneur, as starting work young taught him a valuable work ethic.

“Lawn care certainly isn’t an easy job, so when I started doing this young, it taught me to push through and keep going even though you can hot, you get tired, you get dirty,” he said. “Just get out there and get it done because the payday will be worth it.”

No matter how different their reasons for showing to Young Entrepreneurs’ Day may have been, Chase said they were all united in that they all wanted to share their work with the community.

“I think it’s really cool to see all the kids here,” she said. “I think it’s great that we have this opportunity.”

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