TREPS marketplace comes to Lounsberry Hollow MS

| 06 Jan 2014 | 11:51

A new brand of flea market was held on Dec. 5, 2013, at the Lounsberry Hollow Middle School.

The 75 vendors had created and displayed sellable merchandise for the public to purchase. What made this flea market unique was that the vendors were 11 and 12 years old. The kids, and the program in which they participated, are referred to as “TREP$” -- short for “entrepreneurs.”

The community came out in full support of this program, which has become an annual event, helping the children achieve success. Success meant different things to different kids. For some, it was the independence of earning their own money, and for others it was the skills they learned along the way. Jon Bergacs took his concern for the environment a step further by creating “RECYCLOFEEDER”, bird feeders made out of recycled bottles. Ryan Spadafina used his creative abilities and tech savvy to produce eye-appealing bookmarks, notebooks, and cards for his business “R&R Editor. Jacob Buurman took what he learned about product development and created a unique product with his “Yarn Buugs”.

Many students learned about competition when they had to find a way to make their product unique from others who were selling similar items. Rainbow loom bracelets were popular and Nick Zinno and Leticia Noa found themselves competing for customers. Hannah Vince, Erin Kelly and Yadhira Garcia, and Hannah VanBlarcom squared off competing with their custom designed bags. Others learned about supply and demand when they realized they may have overstocked their tables. Jake Cavallo with his handmade walking sticks and Robert Harris with his Advent Plates learned that some businesses need the support of family in manufacturing their products. Others took what they had learned from the TREP$ workshops about product display and created eye-catching tables, such as Sidney Sparta’s “Summer Sandy Flip Flops”, Bernadette Wilson’s “Creative Cases," and The “Chocolate Covered DiVas — Donatella Barbero and Jade Lazar. Students also learned the value of advertising. They promoted their businesses prior to the marketplace and as a result, customers came looking for them such as “Patryk’s Shooters”, and “Sick as a Dog Record Bowls”.

Some children already had marketable skills and just needed a sales venue. Rebecca Barrett sold her hand-made scarves and Ben Dupont showcased his skill at origami. Briana Hallacker used the marketplace to showcase her original “Cute Cover Upz” and “Cozy Critters”. Vinny Dasaro and Aiden Rzeszotarski took their love of music and mixed a CD for their business “Banging Brostep”. Overall, the TREP$ businesses were successful due to their commitment to attending the workshops, presenting a marketable product, and parental support.

Students and their parents invested an average of $35 per business plus start-up money for making change the day of the marketplace. Net profits, after paying investors back, ranged from $10-$300. Items ranged in price from 50 cents to $10. Many businesses sold out of their products and some even took orders. Some children chose to donate a portion of their profits to charity.

For all the children, success came in the realization that they were now “entrepreneurs.” This first experience introduced them to the world of small business. The event was the culmination of six weeks of hands-on, fun workshops that taught the participants about product development, finance, marketing, advertising, and sales. The workshops were well received by the students. When polled by the coordinators, 95 percent of the participants said they would do it again.

For information about TREP$, the entrepreneurship educational program for children, visit