Byron Center – Lucas Haase has perfected his pickles. He makes them sweet, dill, spicy, speared and relished.
“It just depends on how you like them. If you like them spicy, you make a spicier brine,” said Lucas, a fourth-grader at Brown Elementary School.
Though closed until next season, Lucas has been selling pickles for the past two summers from Luke’s Pickle Stand on Burlingame Avenue, south of 76th Street, offering jars for $5.
“They are tasty and very crunchy,” he said, adding that those who return a jar get $1 off the next one.
He also sells golf counters, which are rows of beads used to count strokes, and farm-fresh eggs at $3 a dozen.
Lucas’ parents, Jodi and Jeff Haase, and grandparents prepare the pickles together, first harvesting cucumbers from the family garden then making brine, adding garlic, herbs and spices and canning into Mason jars.
“With my tiny fingers, I am good at stuffing them… You can see how they are packed in, so you get more for the money,” he said, gesturing to a jar of dill pickles.
Lucas was inspired to sell his family’s homemade pickles in second grade when Brown students hosted a marketplace, an annual event where they learn about economics by selling goods or offering services to parents and community members. Lucas sold golf counters then, and was so thrilled by the experience that he wanted to start his own business.
Now the pint-sized salesperson’s customers come again and again, spreading the word about the pickles and enticing others to make a purchase. Sometimes passersby notice him and — tickled by the sight of the young pickle peddler — stop for a jar.
“Some people drive down the road and say ‘Pickles! I’ll take pickles!’” he said.
The business has taught Lucas a lot about math, he said, explaining how he counts out change and tracks his personal profits of $1 per jar. He’s learned about revenues and expenses, and splits his earnings into three pots marked “save”, “spend” and “share.” He said he made about $200 last summer and spent some earnings on a skateboard, and on feed and materials for his eight chickens and chicken house.
Mom Jodi, also a Brown Elementary kindergarten teacher, said she was surprised when Lucas approached her about selling pickles, but loved that he was so inspired by the school’s marketplace. Together, they came up with a plan and talked about expenses versus profit.
“It’s teaching him a lot about economics, but also it’s teaching him about the world. How you communicate with other people you don’t know, how you market what you have to sell. It’s been really fun to watch him develop that skill of salesmanship,” she said. “It’s giving him a sense of confidence that he can plan and do something to make the world a better place.”