I heard about this interesting concept a few years ago and have been meaning to expose my kids to this experiential form of entrepreneurship but the timing was not right until now.
Sentosa has been organising this event for the 5th year running, and I am really impressed with the effort they have put in to tailor this flea market specially for children.
The kids have to think about what business they want to run, come up with a stall name, and man the stall from 3-8pm. They can choose to run the stall for a day or an entire week.
To prepare the budding entrepreneurs, a 2-hour session is provided where they cover the basics of running a business such as factors to consider when pricing your goods or services, tips on stall display and communication with customers.
Besides teaching kids to run a business, they also believe in inculcating altruism in them. 20% of sales are to be pledged towards charity, and this year they will be giving to The Autism Association (Singapore).
I told #5 we would have to arrive at 2pm to set up the stall. He counted the hours and exclaimed, “That is as long as a school day! How can I stand in one place for so long?”
Sounds like a tall order for a young child?
Actually, the organises are very flexible and parents are allowed to help out if the kids need to take a rest, have their meal or take a break and enjoy the planned activities.
In fact, most of the children rose to the occasion and they were energetic and anxious to increase their sales that they didn’t rest besides taking toilet and meal breaks.
The event is held at the Merlion plaza where there is good foot traffic. In addition, professionals were hired to run children’s activities on stage to increase patronage to the stalls.
Some kids sold handmade jewellery and stationery while others displayed their pre-loved items like toys and books. There were also game stalls where the kids used recycled yakult bottles to create simple games, and some creative kids whipped up freshly made slime!
Many kids went around with baskets filled with their wares and they were really brave to approach strangers to ask them to buy their goods.
|Sentosa Kidz Flea|
Most of the stalls were rented by families who wanted their children to get a sense of running a real business, but there were also a few primary schools who participated in this event and everything the students earned was pledged to charity. Kudos to the teachers, students and parents!
What amazed me was that in a short span of 5 hours, strangers became friends and ‘competitors’ became collaborators. This lovely lady was so warm that the kids from the other stalls came and sat with her for hours and helped her to promote her wares.
At one point, it was pouring and business was slow. We mucked around, gave ‘neighbour’ discounts to one another and engaged in barter trade.
We met Peter Draw, the affable artist with 2 Guinness World Records under his belt, who was hired to run some kids’ activities at this event. He really has the gift of the gab and was going around helping kids to attract customers.
Before we packed up, I invited the kids from the schools to come over and pick up anything they wanted from our stall for free. They had worked hard, all for a good cause.
The kids were so polite and adorable. They picked up a couple of items each, showed them to me and asked, “Can I take these?”
At the end of the day, it was definitely not about how much we earned, but the experience and life lessons the kids learned.
Do support these little bosses and head on down to Merlion Plaza.
Sentosa’s Kidz Flea is on until Saturday 19 March 2016.
The stalls are for rent at $28 per day (weekdays) or $40 per day (weekend) and is something you can consider for your kids (aged 7-12) next year!