Recently, I visited a summer-season open house at SquidFlip on Warren Street in Concord: A basement business where you can find brightly colored furniture, side-tables made from vintage suitcases, and hand-mixed chalk paints with charming New Hampshire-based names. It's a cute little business, but even more remarkable is the boy who runs it: 11-year old Owen Simoes.
For an audio version of this interview, check out Word of Mouth's episode 'The Splatmasters'.
Owen: Hi my name's Owen. I have a store called Squidflip and I sell furniture. I'm 11 years old. I started out when I was 10, last year, and been doing it ever since.
Word of Mouth: And how did you get into furniture?
Owen: Well, Flea Market Flip - which is this show on HDTV where they redo furniture and they compete, whoever makes more money wins - I love to watch that show. I said, "hey, how hard is it to redo your own furniture?" It's hard! But I enjoy it so much. And many people tell their kids that I do this and are so inspired. Like my school, a lot of my friends think it's so amazing how I do this, and it makes me feel really good.
Word of Mouth: Once you decided you were going to try and flip furniture, what was the next step in terms of getting this business started?
Owen: So I used the downstairs area of my dad's office. He allowed me to do it.
Word of Mouth: To paint the furniture or to display it?
Owen: I paint the furniture usually in my backyard, since for example using spray paint - It's toxic! So if you spray it inside it's going to smell everywhere and it's not good to breathe in.
Word of Mouth: And how do you decide prices? I feel like that's a really tough part of business: deciding how much something should cost.
Owen: I think my mom helped me with the prices. So what we do is we figure how much you pay for it, and sometimes how much people sell it for online... And usually do less [than that]. It's a smaller business, so you can't sell stuff for like a lot of money.
Word of Mouth: Where did you come up with the name SquidFlip?
Owen: My dad, when I was younger, called me "Squid," and "flip" from Flea Market Flip.
Word of Mouth: It's your second year in business - are you feeling like you're getting your groove?
Owen: I feel like I've gotten, like the popularity has gotten a whole lot more, a lot more people are coming in. Last year, at the end of the year, we had barely anybody coming in, but in the summer I've noticed that we've got so many more people. Because our demographic is mostly mom with kids who think it's really interesting at my age I'm doing this.
Word of Mouth: Are you trying to save up for anything? What do you do with the proceeds?
Owen: Most of it I put into my bank account, and I use a lot of it on supplies. Because last year I just felt like I didn't spend a whole lot of money. Like mostly my mom and dad were helping me out with it. So this year I'm trying my best to use the money I made last year to buy everything myself.
Word of Mouth: What about advertisement? How have you tried to get the word out about Squidflip?
Owen: Well, we have a Facebook page. We've gained over five hundred of people to like it and keep following us. But I think my dad is really, really helpful, and I want to thank him for mostly getting a lot of my PR out, helping me meet all these people, he helped me start up my Facebook and I think that's definitely how we get a lot of stuff out.
Word of Mouth: Any tips for kids who want to start a lemonade stand this summer?
Owen: OK, you want to find a good location. You want to have good lemonade, ok? One year, we put soda in our lemonade and everyone really liked it. And you just want to be very charming. If you're rude or don't say anything and shy, I don't think the customer wants to buy lemonade as much.
To learn more about Owen and SquidFlip, check out his Facebook page.