By STEPHANIE BASTIAAN
It’s been a tough year for school children who have months at home in lockdown but young entrepreneur Spencer McMillan has made the most of his free time by starting small kindling business.
The nine-year-old Garfield Primary School student was inspired after coming across Glen Singleton’s book, 101 Cool Way’s to Make Money.
“The book has lots of good ideas on how to make money,” Spencer said.
“During the first lockdown, I cleaned cars, which was in the book and I also made and sold loom bands.”
His mum, Kristy McMillan said Spencer had always been a worker.
“He’s always had that entrepreneurial side to him,” Mrs McMillan said.
“He started it all for the joy of working and earning some money.
“When Spencer comes up with an idea, we encourage him to research and think about it and then we will support him to make a go of it. But he has to drive it.”
When Spencer started his kindling enterprise, he had a lot to learn from sourcing materials to cutting them down to size.
“I did lots of research at the start, looking at kindling prices from places like Bunnings,” he said.
“Bunnings are a lot more expensive per kilogram, but they sell hardwood.”
Spencer sources off-cuts of wood going to waste from building sites and cuts them down to size using a flat hammer on a wood splitter and packs them into reusable supermarket bags.
“It’s hard work splitting, especially when you get tree knots in the wood,” he said.
“It can take up to 15 minutes to split a bag full.
“When I first started stacking bags, some would have more, and some would have less, so now I stack them a certain way, so they all have the same amount.”
He sells a bag of the fire-starting wood for $5.
Spencer advertises his product on the local community page, Garfield Watch, and his mother took orders through social media and text message.
“Most customers want to stock up, so they’ll buy four to six bags per order,” he said.
As the demand for kindling slows up over summer, Spencer will stock up ready for business when the colder months return.
And he’s already thinking about his next venture to bring in cash over the summer.
AWARD-WINNING STUDENT: The student journalist who wrote this piece, and many other stories for Dscribe in 2020, has been awarded a prize from Deakin University through The Junction’s Constructive Journalism project, which is supported by The Judith Neilson Institute. The Junction is a website that showcases university student journalism from across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.