Small Business Saturday for Kids: Teaching Children How to Make a Buck and Help the Neighborhood

An Indiana crafts store is teaching children the value of commerce and community.

For the past three years, a tiny business in middle America has been teaching children how to earn holiday money from the intersection of commerce and community. 

At the Charm School crafts store in Terre Haute, Indiana, owner Yvette Morgan opens her heart and her doors to kid entrepreneurs on Small Business Saturday, the increasingly popular antidote to big box shopping on Thanksgiving weekend.

"I love helping young girls ... you can get somebody come in who is very shy, but by the time they leave, they're very excited about what they've done," Morgan told

What they're doing is making their own goods to sell and thereby earning their own money. In 2016, Morgan began the "Little Makers Suitcase Sale," during which pint-sized business people display their wares in little suitcases opened throughout her shop. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 30.

Eleven-year-old Ella Tapy is the daughter of Morgan's business partner, Angela Tapy. She has been marketing her creations since Morgan started the holiday sale

"I sell earrings and Christmas ornaments and cards," she said proudly. This season, she is offering snowman tea lights — a battery-operated tea light complemented by stick-on eyes and a top hat. She also has holiday earrings made from tiny Christmas light bulbs and a glass ornament with a clay horn. 

The latter is "a unicorn-a-ment," Ella says. Get it?

Ella thinks that's a very cute pun. 

She also offers original artwork, painted by her with a hat tip to Jackson Pollack. Her technique?

Ella: "So it's just abstract painting, so you just dump ..."

Her mother: "You pour."

Ella: "Pour paint onto a canvas and you swirl it around."

The price? $5.

"People seem to really like this kind of thing, so I like to see people's reaction," the young artist said.

The reactions of adults to the kids' creations crack them up. 

"They're always, they're like, 'Wow! Did you make all this this? And I was like, 'Well, yeah." (The 'duh' was implied but not spoken.)

Ella added, "And they're like, 'Well, I want this.' I was like 'OK!'''

Last year, the middle-schooler made about $100 — most of which she donated to Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and Tackle Childhood Cancers. She saved a little of it to buy Christmas presents for her family and Starbucks confections for herself. 

As for her competitors at the Little Makers Suitcase Sale, she sees them them more as compatriots. "We help each other," she says.

Her mom, Angela, weighs in. "I'm not sure how any of them really ever make any money, because they're always going around to each other's little suitcases and buying things or trading things.

"It's really cute, though, to watch them say, 'Wow, I really like this. I wish I would have thought of that,''' Angela said. There are nine small business owners of small businesses scheduled for this year's holiday sale.

Their wares include bath bombs, jewelry, ornaments, Christmas decorations, cookies and other baked goods.

The Small Business Saturday shopping holiday was started in 2010 and promoted by American Express. The idea was to encourage people to visit local craftspeople instead of giant store chains, as a way to promote small businesses and help the neighborhood. 

The concept took off, and has crossed the Atlantic to Great Britain, which started its own version. 

To Morgan, the owner of Charm School, her version makes perfect sense. Especially for young women.

"You see the girls just really light up when you are buying something from them that they personally made. It just helps them meet new people and interact with other adults," she said. 

The kids make change, pack up purchases and even make their own carry-out bags. Morgan and her business partner make business cards for the children to hand out with their sales.

Morgan says she got the idea for the Little Makers Suitcase Sale from a friend who is an artist and who supports young creators with a similar program. 

"I've been in business for 13 years," Morgan said. "It's really important to show kids that if you have a dream, you can absolutely do it. And the kids absolutely love it."