Sunday, October 1, 2023
October 1, 2023

Students explore business ideas at market fair

Salt Spring Elementary (SSE) School’s gymnasium was a hotbed of entrepreneurial energy last Thursday as grades 5 and 6 students held their first Junior Market Fair. 

I had planned to drop by to take a few photos for the paper, but I also ended up with an armload of charming, well-made and useful goods after visiting scarcely a dozen tables. Crocheted coasters, a hand-sewn heart pillow, polar bear decoration, Joyful Jellies shower soap, a fir bark tea-light holder, photo cards, a pet rock and a hair scrunchy quickly scooped the cash out of my wallet. 

Students had made eye-catching business logos and signs and put serious thought into their displays. Maya of Joyful Jellies had a bowl of water and washcloth available for trying out her product. Jaxon’s Pet Rocks table offered an option for people to decorate their own rocks if one of the pre-made varieties didn’t appeal.  

The fair idea was instigated by SSE Grade 5 teacher Tanya Grant. In May of 2021, Grant was visiting a girlfriend in Courtenay, whose daughter was preparing for her class’s “business fair” at the time. 

“I learned about her daughter’s process and followed up to hear about her experience after the fair was complete,” said Grant. “I knew I wanted to try something like this.”

Grant and fellow teacher Valeskca San Martin, who teaches Grade 6 French Immersion students at SSE, started planning for last week’s event during the 2021-22 school year.

The two teachers worked with their classes on the project for approximately six weeks this spring, “taking them through a business planning process from the idea stage, to materials required, cost of materials, production costs, cost of individual goods sold, price determination, business name, logo, slogan, marketing, store planning, salesmanship, and financial recording and reporting,” explained Grant. “All aspects of business planning and development were completed at school, except all the products were manufactured at home.” 

Grant said every student made a profit, ranging from $45 to more than $200, after paying their expenses. Some sold all of the products they had made and brought to the fair.

San Martin was also pleased with the process and how the fair turned out. 

“This was a wonderful opportunity to encourage young entrepreneurs to learn about developing, pricing, marketing and selling a product of their own design,” she said.

“One aspect that was different for me, as a French Immersion teacher, was ensuring that both official languages were equally represented by my Grade 6 students. As a result, their signage, labels and sales pitches were available in both French and English.” 

She said the students will now evaluate their experience to determine what went well and what they might do differently next time. 

Hopefully the fair will take place again next year, and I will remember to bring more cash and a shopping bag or two. Or maybe a young entrepreneur will have made some bags for customers to buy and fill.


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