Hometown children’s fairs are places where you can buy paintings for $10 or rice crispy treats for $3. They’re also places where kids can hone entrepreneurial skills and learn about markets and communication.
So was the case at Raleigh Acton Children’s Business Fair, held Oct. 6 at midtown’s North Hills shopping center. The fair, sponsored by the John William Pope Foundation, drew about 65 child entrepreneurs from around Raleigh.
Acton fairs are part of an international franchise, begun by the Acton Academy — a Montessori school in Washington, D.C. — supporting and promoting young business owners. JWPF opened its first such fair in 2016. Other Acton fairs now are hosted in Cary, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Garner, Greensboro, High Point, Holly Springs, Morrisville, and New Bern.
Participants included kids from traditional, charter, private, and home schools, said Lindsay Hollandsworth, communications director at JWPF.
Exhibitors sold everything from jewelry to games to baked goods.
The fair pulled in roughly 200 shoppers, Hollandsworth said.
Siblings Payton and Daniel Patterson — students of the Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School — are first time Acton fair exhibitors. Payton, 12, and Daniel, 11, originally baked-up separate businesses selling sweet treats, but decided to join forces for the Acton fair.
“It’s been a lesson in patience,” Daniel said, grinning.
It’s also been a lesson in marketing and money management. Daniel saves his earnings, or buys “extra things for fun.” Payton uses her profits to purchase school supplies.
The two are no stranger to business fairs, having set up shop at a number around the Triangle area. They plan to return to the Acton fair in 2019.
Grace Hester, a homeschooler and young artist, decided to try selling her paintings after years of helping her grandmother — who is also an artist — at art galleries and exhibits.
The fair is marketed directly to parents, and has collected an impressive following, Hollandsworth said.
Homeschoolers and other nontraditional students love the fair because it’s easily incorporated into their curriculum — putting market economics into practice.
Formal education is important, but that “doesn’t have to occur in a brick-and-mortar building at a desk,” Hollandsworth said.
“Experiential education allows whole communities to get involved, and we’ve been honored to provide a safe, real-world experience for over 180 children since we started.”