Madison Root, an entrepreneurial 11-year-old from Oregon, tried to sell some hand-picked mistletoe in downtown Portland on Saturday. She was raising money to help her dad pay for her braces.
But her “business” didn’t last very long before bureaucratic rules and red tape shut her down.
A security guard, hired by Portland Saturday Market, told her to stop selling mistletoe because she didn’t have the proper permit or approval from the city. Portland city regulations apply to any business that includes “goods, or descriptions or depictions of goods or services, with the intent to engage any member of the public in a transaction for the sale of any good or service.” Vendors who wish to sell at the Portland Saturday Market face even stricter rules.
In a twist of irony, the security guard told the girl that although she could not sell her mistletoe in the park she could beg for money instead.
Mark Ross, a spokesman for the Portland Parks Bureau, explained that begging is allowed because it is considered “a form of free speech, protected by the First Amendment.”
Madison said she would never beg for money. She said, “I would rather work for something than beg. I wouldn’t think I’d have any problems because people are asking for money, people are selling stuff, this is a public place.”
The 11-year-old also pointed out that many of the beggars that she saw were openly soliciting money for pot. She said, “There are people next to me that have big signs that say ‘Got Pot?’”
Prior to being approved to sell at the Portland Saturday Market, vendors must jump through several hoops. Viki Ciesiul, a jewelry seller at the market, explained the process. She said, “We [vendors] are trying to avoid too many types of street vendors who might bring the place down. There are many ways she can participate and rules are there for a reason.”
On Tuesday morning, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said that he will review the laws that prevented Root from selling mistletoe. As reported by KATU.com, “The saga of the 11-year-old entrepreneur and her box of mistletoe prompted the mayor to say he’ll review city laws and the Saturday Market to invite the little girl back… A spokesman for Mayor Hales said he plans to contact the staff at Portland’s Saturday Market to better understand what happened and whether procedures could be tweaked to allow kids to sell.”
As this story has gained national attention from media outlets across the country, many individuals and small businesses have contacted Madison and her father to order her mistletoe. Others have made donations to her braces fund.