Supporting small businesses took on a whole new meaning last Saturday, when dozens of people gathered in a parking lot on Guy Lombardo Avenue last to take part in a “pop-up shop” event with vendors as young as 4.
Shoppers perused kiosks selling beauty supplies, children’s accessories, smoothies, T-shirts and stuffed animals, all operated by kids and young adults with the help of their families.
The event, hosted by To Bring More Inc., a Freeport-based nonprofit that works to combat inequality in Nassau County, was set up to helped young entrepreneurs meet with customers directly and safely.
TBMI Program Director Taisha Francis said the organization had reserved the parking lot it shares with other businesses back in January for a another summer event that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pop-up shop, Francis said, was a great way to help local children while also adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“It was amazing how many responses we got from people about this idea,” she said. “This is a great experience for young students to pitch their ideas and products to the local community.”
Shamika Chantel, of Roosevelt, said the event pop-up shop was a great venue for her daughter Amia, 4. At Amia’s request, Shamika created the Amia Chantel Collection, and the mother-daughter duo offered lip gloss, hair products and other beauty supplies The entire venture was her daughter’s idea, Shamika said, and they had been selling their products at local basketball games.
“This pop-up shop is a good thing for kids, and it helped her do something she loves,” Shamika said of her daughter.
Paulette Harrison, of Freeport, echoed that sentiment as she helped her granddaughter, Charli Mitchell, with a kiosk offering Charli’s Bears and Buddies. Charli, 10, came up with the idea for a mobile “Build-a-Bear”-style station in 2018. After asking around for help, Charli managed to procure a stuffing machine, and her business took off as she visited birthday parties and other special events, selling stuffed animals that kids designed and stuffed themselves.
“I was shocked to hear a business pitch back then from someone who was just going to be 8 year old,” Harrison said, “but it’s really taken off, and she’s great with kids.”
Sandy Day, of West Hempstead, said she was also surprised by the pitch her two daughters, Gabriela and Sariah, made last year for a healthier alternative to a lemonade stand. With their mother’s help, they create Rose Sparkle and Sunblossom’s Smoothie & Juice Bar.
The Days have since sold their products at several pop-up shops on the South Shore, including one at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Long Beach. “They love working at these pop-up shops, and we’re hoping to get a storefront of our own someday,” Sandy said.
Francis added that ever since the pandemic hit the area in March, children and families had been experimenting with product and business ideas at home, so the pop-up shop was the perfect way to get them and their ideas out into the world.
“Hopefully we’ll see some of these kids become entrepreneurs in the future,” she said. “I myself am a candle maker who enjoys these pop-up shops to sell my products and network, so I thought this might make an impact with some of these kids.”