11-year-old entrepreneur Madison Root was selling bags of hand picked mistletoe in Oregon’s Portland Saturday Market to help pay for her braces, but was told to stop because she was violating a city code. The young salesperson told KATU 2 news, "I wouldn't think that I'd have any problems because people are asking for money, people are selling stuff, this is a public place." But the private security guard for the Portland Saturday Market said she was violating Chapter 20.12.020, which makes sales without permits illegal.
Madison’s father, Ashton Root, was with her at the market and told The Oregonian that the guard said she couldn’t even give away the mistletoe and ask for donations, but begging for money would be okay. Mark Ross, Portland Parks Bureau spokesperson, explained that begging is a protected form of free speech. "We totally understand the rule…But here she was selling mistletoe and all around her were people playing music for money, or asking for money for pot, or just spare change. We’re allowing people to beg, but not to sell; it seems like there should be some sort of exception,” Ashton said. Madison agreed, “I don't want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg."
After KATU’s original story spread, Madison’s business took off. In just two days orders streamed in, some for 20 or 30 bags of the mistletoe at a time. A fellow entrepreneur, McKenzie Cook, also took notice of Madison’s plight telling the station , "I saw Madison's story on KATU and I was so moved." So moved that McKenzie offered Madison $1000. The fellow Oregonian started his business McKenzie Farms, the second largest Christmas tree farm in the country, with no trees and felt, "This girl is what America is all about."
Madison launched her own website which is taking donations for her braces fund and her “special cause of supporting the entrepreneurial spirit for kids of all ages.” Thanks to the mistletoe sales and McKenzie Cook’s contribution, Madison recently got her top row of braces. As her business takes off the pre-teen has been making media appearances and is planning an event on December 14th by the Saturday Market called, “Kiss Off Portland.” At the event the young entrepreneur will be speaking about making a difference in the city laws. The effort that began to fund her braces became a lesson in civics and Madison has developed her own platform saying, "People should be able to work for money. People should be able to try hard to make a living.”
- Portland Saturday Market