After friends Ava Thompsen and Ginger Matuszewski heard last year about a market where kids could sell their own products and make money, the girls got together at Thompsen’s house in Heritage Harbour.
As they started brainstorming ideas, they both spotted Thompsen’s dog, a Chihuahua mix named Wrigley.
They looked at each other, and they looked at the dog again. They were thinking the same thing: a business focused on dogs.
Soon, they settled on the idea of making homemade dog treats.
“We researched what’s good for dogs,” said Thompsen, a seventh grader at Carlos E. Haile Middle School.
They would use such ingredients as oats, carrots and sweet potatoes. Their own dogs loved them, and Best Buddies Dog Treats proved a success at the market, held at the Rocky Bluff Library.
The girls again intend to bring their Best Buddies Dog Treats to this year’s market, called the Kids Biz Fair. It will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Braden River Library. Children can still sign up to participate, and, of, course, organizers hope the public will turn out to see what the kids have created.
Thompsen and Matuszewski said Best Buddies Dog Treats will modify its offerings based on interactions with customers last year. First, they plan to bring more product — they sold out of the fresh treats in just one hour — and they plan to offer multiple treat sizes, so treats are suitable for both small and large dogs. Prices will vary accordingly, and they might expand to have treats for cats, as well.
“You don’t get taught this kind of stuff in school,” said Matuszewski, who now lives in Parrish. “Once you learn what you have to do, you can continue it.”
Thompsen said her favorite perk is that “it gives you a chance to earn money by yourself.”
Braden River Library Youth Services librarian Chris Culp said she is excited about hosting the business fair because it is a unique way for kids to learn about becoming an entrepreneur.
“Libraries are all about education and learning to research,” Culp said.
Braden River Library offered workshops Jan. 4 and 11 to guide potential entrepreneurs toward their business dreams, but attendance was not required for participation.
“This whole experience is to give people an appreciation of how business works and to understand the value of the dollar,” said Kelly Foster, who handles marketing for the Manatee County libraries.
Foster said the Kids Biz Fair is the first youth business fair Manatee Libraries has conducted under the Kids Biz Fair name, though last year’s event was similar. Organizers hoped to make the fair bigger by moving it to the Braden River Library location, which is the second busiest library in Manatee County.
Foster said the Kids Biz Fair program is sponsored by Friends of the Braden River Library.