In the Pog Biz

Seven-year-old runs his own business.

By Catherine Cluett

While most seven-year-olds are lucky to have pocket change from their allowance, Gus Lodise is already out in the business world making his own money. At age five, Gus began selling his paintings to family and friends, and to raise funds for his school, Kilohana Elementary. Now, two years later, he has expanded his entrepreneurial endeavors to marketing pogs, a game played with small, colorful disks that originated in Hawaii in the 1920s and is still popular with island youngsters today.

Gus went into the pog business just three weeks ago, and as of last week, Gus said he had already sold 33 bags of pogs for $3 per bag. Sets of 100 pog pieces come in a bag. He said he buys the pogs in bags of 8000, then sorts and packages them for sale.

“We have now sold Gus's pog packages to customers on Molokai, as well as Maui and the Big Island via mail order,” said Kimberly Svetin, General Manager at Kamo`i Snack-n-Go. Kamo`i, along with Outpost Natural Foods, are the two local venders of Gus’s “Ninja Pogs.” Svetin said Gus is the youngest vendor in Kamo`i’s 14-year history.

Business runs in Gus’s family. His parents, Monica Flores and Genesis Lodise, are owners of a web design business. Flores said they taught their son the basics of invoicing, inventory, start-up capital and other business practices.

“Our hope is to pass on those skills so he is never dependant on one stream of income,” said Flores.

They also explained the importance of keeping records and professional communication with customers and bankers. Flores said learning such phrases as “it’s a pleasure doing business with you” will serve you well throughout your life.

“The biggest challenge is getting used to people,” explained Gus. But this ingenious kid seems to be having no trouble.

Gus has his own bank account, to which all his profit is deposited. Family members loaned him start-up capital, and Gus said he paid his parents back last week and is now beginning to collect profit from his business. He accepts cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

He is also already using his knowledge of business to increase his sales by offering discounts. Gus said his friends share his interest in pogs, so he gives them a $1 discount per package.

“There’s always something you can offer,” Flores advised her son and others. “Just think of what you can do and someone who might want it.”

And while Gus said making money is one of the best things about going into business, Gus has already thought about serving the community, too. He has donated paintings to two charity auctions to raise money for Kilohana Elementary School.

“Our hope is that he can use his knowledge and skills to give back to community,” said Flores.

You can reach Gus with questions or to place an order at 877-836-5105 ext. 7 or visit his website, www.islandboyart.com.

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