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The Workshop Hosts Kids Business Fair in South Anchorage

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Featured, News, Nonprofits, Small Business

Kasie Krage and her children learning the basics of buying and selling at the event she organized.

Patricia Morales | Alaska Business

Budding brainiacs have their science fairs; up-and-coming performers have their recitals; and junior entrepreneurs have the Kids Business Fair. A nonprofit community space in South Anchorage hosted the event over the weekend where tiny tycoons set up shop to turn a tidy profit.

Showcase for Creativity

The Kids Business Fair is the brainchild of Kasie Krage, a mom who brings her family to The Workshop Community Center on Huffman Road. Her children were among the two-dozen or so who set up tables for three hours on Saturday, selling merchandise to a steady stream of customers.

Krage’s kids sold handmade pottery, keychains, and paracord bracelets. Around the room, shoppers could also find jewelry, decorated notebooks, photo art, bookmarks, stickers, magnets, bird feeders, seedling plants, baked goods, and bath bombs.

A contingent from the Anchorage Waldorf School sold homemade candles and woodcraft to raise money for a class trip. The teens were among the oldest vendors at the fair; the youngest were not yet in preschool.

“I didn’t expect it to become this large, to be honest,” says Krage.

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Her vision for the fair was to showcase the creativity of young entrepreneurs while offering an opportunity to practice marketing and financial literacy. Indeed, the event could have been called a craft bazaar or carnival, but Krage wanted the added learning component. “We wanted to really emphasize that it was a business endeavor for them,” she says. “I wanted to be open to as many groups as possible: public school children, homeschool children, any group.”

Krage says she got the idea to start the fair last year. “My kids heard of a business fair that happened in December with a homeschool group,” she says, but that event was limited to members of that group.

The Workshop, where Krage and her family are regular weekly users, presented an alternative. She recalls, “We were coming here anyway, so I asked LeeAnna if it fit in her mission statement.”

LeeAnna Chronister is a local photographer who established The Workshop in November 2022 as a gathering place for families. “There is really nothing like it, especially in Alaska,” Chronister says. “We focus on things that bring family together and cultivate healthy relationships in our community.”

Income and Expenses

Reptile aficionada LeeAnna Chronister started The Workshop as a space for many types of community gatherings, the Kids Business Fair being one. In the background, a young designer sells magnets and embroidery under her Crafty Critters brand.

Patricia Morales | Alaska Business

The space is open to the public Monday through Saturday. Membership is like a library card, Chronister says, and payment is by donation. The shop includes a lounge, play area, and classroom programming. The emphasis on art and education is particularly useful for homeschool families and people in behavioral health treatment.

Chronister estimates that The Workshop serves about 200 to 300 people per week, apart from special events like the Kids Business Fair. In those cases, organizers rent the space and facilitate hosting. “We try to make it as easy as possible to put stuff on like this,” Chronister says.

Her own kids had a table selling cotton candy, practicing for another fair coming up in May.

Money changed hands briskly as customers circulated through the tables. Krage had set the booth fee low enough that kids could easily cover the overhead with the day’s sales proceeds.

She’s looking forward to holding more fairs in the future, based on lessons learned during the inaugural event—just as the young makers and sellers of necklaces, embroidery, and cardboard toy swords gained practical experience in starting and running a small business.

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The track of oil and gas development in Alaska shows the footprints of bold companies and hard-working individuals who shaped the industry in the past and continue to innovate today. The May 2024 issue of Alaska Business explores that history while looking forward to new product development, the energy transition for the fishing fleet, and the ethics of AI tools in business.

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