In the past when a kid wanted a little extra cash he could open a lemonade stand. All that was necessary to start this business venture was a table, some cups, and a pitcher of lemonade. Since then, the world has become much more complicated.
Starting a business – even a microbusiness such as this – is a lot harder than it used to be. Regulations are more strict, and various confusing codes make navigating this network a real hassle, especially for young people who haven’t learned about the financial world yet.
Despite these obstacles, one teen decided to try out his entrepreneurial talent. Jaequan Faulkner, a 13-year-old living in Minneapolis, opened his own summer hot dog stand, called Mr. Faulkner’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs. He hoped to raise enough money to be able to buy new school clothes.
He originally opened the stand back in the summer of 2016. Jaequan’s uncle helped him get it started, and soon business was booming. The community started to take notice of the unique endeavor, reporting about it in the local news.
“It puts pride in me to see that I’m doing something good for the community,” Jaequan had told Kare 11. He was quickly gaining the support of his friends and neighbors, and things were looking up.
Unfortunately, this hot dog stand did not have an official permit. The city of Minneapolis requires that all food-serving businesses pass city health inspections in order to be permitted. As a young teen, Jaequan wasn’t familiar with these practices.
Someone complained about the stand, and a health inspection was conducted. Rather than shutting the boy’s business down, the city health department wanted to help him become legitimate.
“They worked with a couple groups in the area,” health inspector Logan Ebeling told KHOU11. “NEON (the Northside Economic Opportunity Network) I know was involved, Appetite for Change, trying to support Jaequan and what he’s doing. He’s a great kid.”
The groups came together to help Jaequan update his hot dog stand; this time it would meet regulation standards. The teen got a hand washing station and a tent for overhead protection. The city even gave him a thermometer so that he could check the temperatures of his sausages and hot dogs.
“We’ve been working with Jaequan on the business side of things, like basic business, finance, marketing, pricing,” explained Ann Fix, the program manager for the Northside Food Business Incubator through NEON and Appetite for Change. “He’s really been excited about all of it.”
The Health Department staff personally chipped in to help Jaequan purchase his $87 permit. Now his summer hot dog stand was legitimate, and he was learning how to run a real business. Not only did the city help this teen to keep his business afloat, the experience was teaching him valuable lessons that would help him in his future pursuits.
“I pay me and my uncle and my cousin,” Jaequan commented, “but before I do any of that I pay tax.”
The young man was surprised by how helpful the city was. He hadn’t ever thought about administrative organizations looking out for his best interest, but this experience was changing his tune.
“Surprisingly, I’m like, dang the city’s not the bad guys in this situation,” Jaequan shared. “They’re actually the ones who are helping me. It makes me feel kind of – not kind of – really proud that people know what I’m doing.”
Monday, July 16, was Jaequan’s first day running his stand with a permit. His next goal is to save up enough to buy a food cart for the next summer. Ann Fix is working closely with him, and she aims to use this experience to give even more resources to future teens.
“So the next few weeks we’re just going to get him through this short-term food journey and then school starts,” she shared. “He’s very, very focused and excited for school to start. Then in the fall and winter, we’ll start really strategizing and planning out to get his food cart.”
Jaequan is operating under a special event food permit that lasts for 10 days at his location: 1150 Penn Avenue North. He is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. After that, he will set up his stand at different sites around the North Side, such as the 4th Precinct, the Urban League, and the Sanctuary Covenant Church.
“It’s not about the money,” Jaequan declared. “It’s just something I enjoy doing.”
Stop by the teen’s stand to show him support, or follow him on his journey via Facebook.
Watch his story below.
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