Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, two well-behaved, recently bar mitzvah-ed 13-year-olds in the Westchester town of New Castle, were doing their part to pull America out of its recession. Instead of trying to get by on a weekly parental handout, they stimulated the economy by starting their own small business, a baked-goods stand in a local park. After the first day, DeMarchis and Graff made $120 and had already started to expand, investing in a new cart and adding beverage options to their offerings. By the end of the week, they might have hired four or five new employees and opened their first overseas franchise in China. But when town councilman Michael Wolfensohn happened upon the young entrepreneurs, he didn’t praise them for their innovative, can-do spirit. He called the cops. The boys didn’t have a permit.
“All vendors selling on town property have to have a license, whether it’s boys selling baked goods or a hot-dog vendor,” Wolfensohn explains. Indeed, it really wouldn’t be fair if cute young kids could ignore the bureaucratic requirements that apply to adults who, after all, are trying to make a living. But calling the police? Couldn’t he just inform the kids’ parents or something? “In hindsight, maybe I should have done that, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to do that,” Wolfensohn now admits. What? Okay.
Though his approach was fairly tactless, Wolfensohn may have ultimately done DeMarchis and Graff a favor. They lost their jobs, but by getting shut down by the police, they must have gained an insane amount of street cred. What could be more valuable than a reputation as the new bad-asses at Seven Bridges Middle School? Right, Mrs. DeMarchis?