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SNACK SHACK TEACHES KIDS ABOUT COMMERCE

When the munchies hit on a weekday kids at the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club know where to turn — their very own Snack Shack, put on by their peers.
It’s a portable foodie fest filled with affordable food and drink, with the proceeds going back to the kids.
“It’s a huge payoff,” said Crystal Tamariz, site supervisor of the Vaca Pena club branch.
The Snack Shack is a summertime offering that teaches kids all about retail, from choosing what to sell to pricing to inventory. They do all the buying, set up and prep, finances and more.
“I make them do everything,” Tamariz advised. “They made signs, did pricing, inventory sheets.”
They try to determine what’s popular and then determine pricing. When sale times come around, so many lessons are learned.
For example, the Fruit Salad Incident.
“They wanted to do the prep work and everything,” Tamariz said, adding that her kids insisted that fruit salad would sell. So they cut and chopped and packaged — all for naught.
“They found that it didn’t really sell well and it doesn’t keep well and fruit costs a lot of money,” she pointed out. “So we had a Fruit Salad Day and ate it all.”
Offerings go from substantial — all time favorite Hot Pockets — to snacky-type things like Nutella dips, granola bars, Go-Gurt and bottled water with water flavoring.
Tamariz expressed pride in her kids, as they learn as they go and readily adjust.
“They’re at the age when they don’t want to be treated like kids anymore, so we give them an extra layer of responsibility to do good. … They are amazing and I love them. They really do a good job.”
Sarai Quero, 13, said she loves her job. Choosing what to sell isn’t hard, apparently.
“A lot of people eat chips and on hot days we assume they eat Otter Pops and drink water,” she said.
The kids are right on — selling out of chips, Otter Pops for just 50 cents apiece and the flavored water was a hit. Plain water, well, not so much, but the flavoring, at a quarter, got both items sold.
When something doesn’t sell, the kids mobilize, strategize and talk how low to go when cutting prices.
“By 25 cents at a time,” Sarai said.
Serving friends can be a challenge, she said, and there’s a lesson there, too.
“You want to give them special treatment but you know you can’t,” she said.
Daralis Blancas, 11, said she’s learned a lot so far and hopes to learn more.
A bit shy, she talked about the hard work of inventorying items while serving the barrage of peers that passed by the table.
So far, the Snack Shack has made $50. They hope to grow that pot by leaps and bounds by summer’s end, when half of the proceeds will go to charity and the rest to “fun stuff.”
By Kimberly K. Fu, kfu@thereporter.com, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter