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Flagstaff’s Youngest Businessmen Finding Success


When you are seven years old, you are probably not worrying about a slow economy, even if you are trying to sell thousands of dollars of popcorn. One Flagstaff Boy Scout named Austin, armed with a good attitude and inner drive, sold more than $1,600 in popcorn during this fall’s fundraiser, which just ended. He was among 1,200 boys who canvassed Northern Arizona neighborhoods raising money.


Austin spent a great deal of time knocking on Flagstaff doors and selling to friends and family members, and the payoff has been great. So great, in fact, that his troop's top seller this year.

What’s his approach? “I have a smile on my face and I’m usually nice to people,” he said. His mom worked hard too, walking door to door with him. This was Austin’s second year selling popcorn. His mom reports that last year, he sold about $325 worth. “His energy blows me away. He does scouts, acting, piano, keyboard, and he loves scouts,” she said.

Like many mothers of scouts, she appreciates watching her son learn responsibility as well as the importance of business.

Austin’s troop leader, Sean Openshaw, said the troop’s goal this year was to sell approximately $7,500 worth of popcorn. There are 28 boys in the troop. He said while the average scout sells approximately $350, last year’s top seller in the troop sold $1,500 worth of popcorn. So, by press time, Austin bypassed that figure. The money collected covers expenses for day camps, books, and outings, including ice skating, bowling and campouts. “Selling is great.

It helps them learn to introduce themselves and talk to other people. They have to present themselves professionally and have confidence to go up to adults,” Openshaw said.

Debbie Peterson, manager of The Flagstaff Scout Shop and mother of two scouts herself, said in 2009, Flagstaff Pack 142 at Cromer Elementary School sold approximately $17,000 in popcorn, with its top seller collecting about $2,500. The entire Route 66 District, which includes Flagstaff, Winslow, Williams, part of the reservation and Holbrook, sold $104,000 in popcorn in 2009.

Of course, when you’re a scout, you have to earn badges showing you’ve accomplished certain goals and learned new things. In order to earn a community badge, Austin had to visit a special place in his city. He chose City Hall, and asked to meet with Mayor Sara Presler, which he did. She not only told him a little bit about how local government works, but she also purchased $25 worth of popcorn from him. “Scouting is a great opportunity for kids to learn important life skills, to grow family relationships and to build friendships,” she said.

The mayor, as well as many other Northern Arizona residents, chose to donate $25 to what is called the Military Silver Donation. That’s when a contribution pays for popcorn, which is sent overseas to American troops. Bottom line? Northern Arizona Boy Scouts are working hard to raise money for their scout troops, but they are doing more than just that. They’re making discoveries, seizing opportunities and learning to work in a team, proving age can be irrelevant when it comes to learning important life skills. FBN

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