…In Portland, Oregon it is legal to beg for money on the streets but it’s illegal to sell mistletoe – even if you’re only 11 years old? If you haven’t heard the recent news, that’s the absolute truth. Just ask Madison Root. Her efforts to sell mistletoe in a public park at Portland Saturday market were recently thwarted. Thanks to extensive coverage in the press, the market has now offered for Madison and her father, Ashton, to become members without paying the vendor fee.
So, what caused all this uproar in the first place?
Here’s the story…
The 11-year-old entrepreneur, who recently had braces placed on her teeth, decided to try to raise some money through a little hard work to help her parents pay for part of the expense of braces. Madison picked mistletoe from her uncle’s Newberg farm and then creatively wrapped and packaged the mistletoe to sell.
Madison set up her space near the Skidmore Fountain at Portland Market but was approached by a park guard who told her that according to Portland City Code 20.12.020, Madison couldn’t operate her business without a permit. The park guard then told her she was allowed to “beg for money” but she couldn’t sell the mistletoe or even give it away and ask for a donation. According to park officials begging is protected as a form of free speech.
Madison shared her insight on the situation: “I feel that I can make a statement and possibly make a difference. The city laws are supporting begging and are against working.”
Ashton’s father was upset that his daughter could legally beg at the public park but could not engage in commerce. He contacted local TV station KATU to air his grievances. Many citizens weighed in on Madison’s right (or not) to sell in the marketplace without a permit following the national media attention her story received. Some agreed with the rules of the marketplace and the rights of other vendors who had to pay for their booths. Many expressed that young people should be encouraged to run businesses as vendors and that the market should offer free permits to young entrepreneurs.
Needless to say, the national media attention has brought Madison lots of new mistletoe business. The station that shared Madison’s story has fielded mistletoe orders from all over the country. Someone has even offered to send Madison $1,000 in seed money!
Madison summed up the experience in a follow up interview with KATU by saying, “It’s not about the mistletoe. And it’s not about me. It’s about all of us. It’s about how we’re raising wimps, how people would rather beg for money than work hard!” Madison has since launched a website, www.madisonroot.com, and has been making the radio circuit and providing interviews. She’s also busy planning logistics to fulfill all the orders she’s received since her story broke.
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Stuart Tomlinson, Oregon Live
Katy Setinmetz, Beg | TIME.com