Hillsboro boy eschews lemonade stand, turns to farm box
Bynum Brooks could spend his summer vacation riding bikes or shooting basketballs, but on a recent sunny afternoon, he stood in his front yard, dressed in a business suit, ready to do what he does best.
Bynum, 8, is a businessman.
The Hillsboro boy has spent his summer running a small farm store in his front yard. The store is quaint — some might say tiny. At less than five feet tall the shop has only room for a few items, but it's perfect for what he needs.
"Let's start with what my products are," Bynum said, rattling off a litany of items he manages to squeeze into the small box on the corner of Edison and Third Avenue in downtown Hillsboro: Honey, sage, bay leaves, squash, tomatoes, chicken and duck eggs and flowers.
Bynum opened the box earlier this month, selling items from his garden. For Bynum, the box has been a huge success. In his first week, he made more than $120, a small fortune for the elementary school student.
"We've been floored by the response, honestly," his mother, Suzanne Brooks said.
Honey is Bynum's biggest seller.
"That's a hot commodity," Suzanne Brooks said. Bynum helps jar the honey with his father from honey bees the family keeps on their property. Bynum checks on the family's brood of backyard chickens and ducks several times a week for fresh eggs.
"It's pretty fun," he said. "I like to meet customers because I get to meet new people and they usually ask what I have."
This winter, Bynum said, he wants to offer hot chocolate and cookies.
"Maybe marshmallows, too," he said.
The farm box has become a popular stop among his neighbors and friends, who swing by to make a quick purchase. Neighbor Megan Mathis picked up a jar of honey on a recent Thursday, one of dozens of people who have stopped by the store.
"It's just so fun," Mathis said. "It's such a cute idea."
Normally, business owners must obtain a business license from city hall to operate in Hillsboro, but because Bynum is under the age of 18 and selling products his family grew on their property, he is exempt under the city's code.
Bynum has always had a mind for business, his mother Suzanne Brooks said.
"He's always looking for a hustle," she said with a laugh. "He's quite the little capitalist. He has always tried to figure out ways to make money."
When he was younger, Bynum cast aside traditional child-businesses such as lemonade stands. Instead, he sold his unwanted toys to neighborhood children, but his parents made him stop after he started selling broken Transformers and other toys. They wanted a different way for their son to learn the value of a dollar, Suzanne Brooks said.
Taking inspiration from a little free library in their neighborhood, the Brooks' purchased a small stand for their yard, which Bynum filled with items from his parents' garden. He has one employee, his 4-year-old brother Shep, who helps him out.
"I've always wanted to sell," Bynum said.
Bynum said he wants to be an entrepreneur when he gets older.
"That way, I don't have to go to work every day," he said. "I can open when I want. When you own the work, it's easier to work. You can take a day off whenever you want, because it's your work."
Days off aren't really in Bynum's sights now, his mother said. The boy is up early, sometimes by 6 a.m., ready to open his shop.
"I have to tell him it's not time to open, yet," she said.
What's driving this pint-sized entrepreneur?
"I'm trying to save money," he said. "There's a nice camera drone I like, that's really cool."
By Geoff Pursinger
Follow Geoff at @ReporterGeoff
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