West Hartford’s young entrepreneurs on display at pop-up market

WEST HARTFORD – The area’s youngest entrepreneurs will be selling their wares at the Pop-Up Kids Market in Blue Back Square on October 15.

West Hartford mums Elyse Fox and Laura Barash are organizing the market for the second time – the first was in 2020 just before the pandemic – and look forward to showcasing creative youngsters.

“It was so successful,” Fox said of the first market, which included over 70 vendors. “We had about 2,000 people coming through. The kids made a lot of money.”

Many of the vendors actually sold out, prompting them to start shopping and supporting their fellow entrepreneurs, Barash said.

“It inspired a lot of kids to do it this time,” Barash said. “A lot of people approached us when we performed next. The community was so excited. People were so excited and gave us a lot of support.”

Jack Krieble and his friend Jacob Barash are both 15-year-old students at Kingswood Oxford who will be attending this year’s market. The two ended up making their own varieties of cucumbers.

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“I knew I wanted to enter the market, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to sell,” said Jacob Barash, who attended the first market two years ago. “Cucumbers just showed up and we went along with it.”

“They’re pretty unique,” Krieble said. “I had only tried regular pickles, so it was fun to make hot or red onion pickles for people who wanted to try them.”

Jacob Barash said selling mocktails at the first market was a great experience which is why he now wants to return.

“It was definitely a good experience planning everything and planning how much we needed of each and every thing,” he said. “We actually ran out of one of the key ingredients midway through, so we resorted to selling different mocktails. It’s a great opportunity to see what it’s like without really putting in that much or taking a huge risk.”

Ben Bialas, 7, and his older brother Jackson Bialas, 10, will also appear in the market. Ben worked with his grandfather to make wooden lanterns, while Jackson will offer his handmade tie-dye shirts – each with a video game controller logo printed on them. He wanted to combine two things he loved in his product.

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“One day I was doing tie-dye at camp and I really liked it,” he said. “I also like to play a lot. I did the business because I really like making tie-dye.”

To keep his business going, he had to go out and buy shirts and materials to turn them into tie-dye shirts. He used a heat press to apply the logo. So far he has made around 50 shirts in all sizes.

“I just liked selling and talking to people,” Jackson said of his early market experiences.

The four boys are examples of the creativity Fox and Laura Barash say will see the market. Everything from natural homemade pet treats to skin care products to heating pads are for sale. The two mothers suggest that everyone bring cash, as not every young seller is willing to accept credit cards, although some have adopted the technology.

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“They’re really coming up with some creative things,” Fox said of the market’s participants, who range in age from 7 to 18.

Their hope, the two said, is that young people will be empowered to start their own small businesses, from which to learn whether they are successful or need to return to the drawing board.

“It inspires kids to start a business and ideally move on from here,” said Laura Barash. “I think that happened after the last market.”

“We hope they get that spark from here, where they figure out what they love to do,” Fox said. “There are so many connections on the market. It’s such a beautiful way of celebrating each other and being together.”

The market takes place on October 15th from 10am to 2pm outside in Blue Back Square. A rainy date was set for October 16 at the same time. More information about the market is available online.

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