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ORANGE COUNTY DIGEST

Free Enterprise Doesn't Always Make a Profit

July 06, 1986|Roxana Kopetman

Three young entrepreneurs set on selling red, white and blue balloons on the Fourth of July learned some tough lessons about free enterprise: It's not always profitable.

The "Glow Worms" and their encounter with the county last week may have netted them considerable media attention, but it didn't produce much in the way of sales.

"Our profit was $1.36," club president Dana Kaiser, 11, said Saturday. "I thought we were going to make $500. I was wrong."

Dana, her sister Michelle, 10, and friend Cynthia Phan, 11, entered the public spotlight when their request to sell balloons on the Fourth of July at the Yorba Regional Park, two blocks from their home, faced several stumbling blocks in acquiring a permit--among them, the need for $1 million in liability insurance.

As self-appointed president, Dana spent several hours making calls to county and city officials to request a permit. One county parks administrator earlier this week described her as "very mature and politely persistent."

When the youngsters' plight became publicized, Video Crossroads on La Palma Avenue came to the rescue.

With one tank of helium and 1,152 balloons--$128.90 worth--the girls set out to sell their balloons Friday in front of the video store. But everyone was at the park, Dana said.

"Business was pretty poor," the girls' father, Paul Kaiser, said Saturday. "We started selling them for $1, and then dropped to 50 cents. We gave quite a few away at the end of the day. We were getting into the spirit of the Fourth of July.

"We have a ton of them left. Are you interested?" Kaiser said of the more than 900 balloons left.

The girls wanted to raise money to spend on summer activities. They already have their next project in the works: selling calendars.

As for their first project, Michelle said, "it was fun but it was hard."

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