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Elevator Grant - 8th Annual Conference - Dakota County Technical College, MN
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Micro-enterprise and immigrant entrepreneurship

Posted By Lisa Bah, Friday, July 1, 2011

We spent Wednesday morning on a field trip and did pricing and product comparison activities along the way. Students were given a pricing activity and asked to find two similar products that were not familiar to them upon arrival at Midtown Global Market and to make comparisons. Everyone had a chance to meet with micro-entrepreneurs in a market setting that resembles what is seen in many cities around the world. They were free to interact with the vendors, and some discovered the art of haggling and bartering in a colorful world with specialty groceries, food vendors, clothing and giftware. A few talked about how the vendors said they carry authentic products, such as hand-carved wooden animals both from their native land and the "knock-offs” from China and Taiwan, knowing some customers demand high-end products, and others just want a replica "for looks” on a shelf.

It was a new retail and cultural experience for all but three of the students. One of the students, coincidentally has a brother that has a giftware kiosk, and had also just opened a restaurant in Midtown less than a month before. The student, along with a class mate, ended up "covering” the student's brother's store for nearly an hour, while he dealt with paperwork errors on a product that had been imported. When they came to lunch, they both announced that working in a retail shop was boring when there weren't customers in the store! It was a launching point about the perks and pitfalls of owning a small retail shop over the lunch hour.

While there, we also had lunch at LaLoma Tamales, which is owned by DCTC alumni and NACCE Entrepreneur of the Year (2009) Noelia Urzua.

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