More than 80 vendors filled every nook and cranny of the Seaside Convention Center in late November with tables filled Christmas-themed arts, crafts and baked goods.
Crafters and artists of all ages came to participate in the 49th Seaside Artisan Gift Fair, including Konrad and Roarke Struve, who started their homemade playdough business at the ripe old age of 5.
Dressed in bowler hats and fitted suit jackets, the only thing that set the two 7-year-old brothers apart from their older counterparts was their shorter stature. Approach them, and like any other vendor they will tell you their passion behind their creations – and tell you why you should buy it. For Konrad and Roarke, that product is homemade playdough in a variety of colors.
“It’s fun, and it’s something people want to buy,” Konrad said.
“Grown-ups can even use it, too — to exercise your hands,” added Roarke.
The Struves got their spot at the gift fair through the Biz Kids, a 4-H program that gives kids the tools to pursue entrepreneurship and teaches kids the basics of small business. Event manager Cyndi Mudge with the Seaside Chamber said each year usually at least a few children from the program operate booths.
Through this, Konrad and Roarke had taken their product to places like the Astoria Sunday Market and learned skills like counting money and book keeping.
And according to the Struves, the business is going well.
“Counting the money is definitely the hardest part,” Roarke said.
“We’ve made hundreds of dollars,” Konrad said.
But it’s not all about the money.
“I like it when they buy it,” Konrad said. “I also like talking to the people, meeting new people. Making the sale.”
And for Roarke, the creativity it takes to set up the booth display is half the fun in itself.
Kurt Struve, the father of the two entrepreneurs, said watching his kids participate in the program has been rewarding. As the owner of an independent design firm himself, he sees it as an opportunity to pass along some of the small business lessons he’s learned himself to his sons.
“It’s good for them to talk to all different kinds of people,” Kurt said. “I didn’t get to have this kind of experience as a kid, so it’s exciting to be able to give that to them.”