being a mom

Girl Selling Mistletoe To Raise Money For Her Braces Busted By Security Guards

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Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 6.52.16 AMMerry Christmas everyone! Except to little 11-year-old Madison Root who decided to sell some beautifully packaged bundles of mistletoe at Portland Market and was told by security guards that she wasn’t allowed to. Because of a city ordinance that bans commerce like that without proper approval. Never mind the fact that begging for money is a-ok, and that the security guards suggested she do just that instead. From

You can buy whistles, order crepes and sign a marijuana petition all without walking more than ten steps.

But you can’t open a business without going through the market’s formal application process. The market sets rules for vendors which Madison agrees make sense.

Begging is different.

That’s a form of free speech, protected under the First Amendment, explains Mark Ross, spokesman for the Portland Parks Bureau, which manages the city park and rents it to the Saturday Market.

The guard, hired by the market from a private security firm, told Madison she could sell her products on city sidewalk outside the park’s boundaries or simply ask people for donations for her braces.

“I don’t want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg,” said Madison.

“It’s crazy. People can get money for pot. But I can’t get money for braces. I’m working for this! They’re just sitting down on their butts all day asking for pot.”


Madison had chopped down all the mistletoe from her uncle’s farm and wrapped it all pretty to sell because she wanted to help her parents pay for her braces. After being told by security she couldn’t sell her mistletoe she plans on returning on December 14 to have what she calls “The Great Kissoff” where people can donate to her braces fund and she is preparing a speech about how she feels “working for something” is better than begging. After this report was on the news one of the latest Christmas tree farms in the area donated 1,000 dollars towards Madison’s braces. I love how irate she is in this video:


It seems to me that kids should be exempt from this law. Can’t they partner with local business people with a proposal where they show what they intend to create to raise money and be allowed to become little entrepreneurs or something? I think this idea is so charming and it’s awesome she wanted to help fund her own dental work. The fact that begging for drug money is OK and selling a holiday item is not is pretty disgusting to me. Nice lesson to teach the kids there, Portland.

(Image: KATU Video)


  1. FaintlyXMacabre

    December 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    That little girl is just, everything.

    • Eve Vawter

      December 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      RIGHT?! she is pretty much the best

  2. Sam Inoue

    December 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I have some friends in portland, and she said she heard of this happening to kids with a lemonade stand at a street fair in their neighborhood. These are kids, not a company, there can’t be much harm in letting them do it. Gotta love stupid regulations

    • Emmali Lucia

      December 4, 2013 at 2:04 am

      Haha, I should have read the comments before commenting myself,.

      Yep. Little kids will get in DEEP trouble for things as petty as lemonade stands. It’s ridiculous.

  3. AmazingAsh

    December 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    If the city gave an exemption to kids, parents would find a way to exploit it. Not all parents, but there’s always those crappy ones. I think everyone’s anger and outrage should be directed at the security officer who directed her to panhandle. Instead, he should have informed her how to go about getting a permit to sell her goods. It’d be an excellent lesson in entrepreneurship for her.

    I hope I don’t sound like the Grinch. I hope that she’s able to sell $4k worth of mistletoe and that her Kissoff is a huge success!!

    • Eve Vawter

      December 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      which is why I think they should have a mentoring program with area businesses to sort of keep it on the up and up.

    • SarahJesness

      December 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      That actually sounds like a pretty good idea. Give more kids something to do, and teach them useful skills.

  4. Kay_Sue

    December 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I think the idea of having them partner with local businesses is a good one. Cities should encourage kids to work hard, not discourage them like this. Mind boggling.

  5. brebay

    December 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Orthodontists make more than heart surgeons. Come, on, some Portland orthodontist has got to step up and do a pro bono here. Free advertising!

  6. jendra_berri

    December 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Eh… I think they coulda looked the other way on this one. Or have special child permits for kids who want to open a lemonade stand or something. Just a free pass you go pick up once you’ve explained your “business plan”. Educational, fair and cute!

  7. Eric Strauss

    December 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    There are so many barriers to free market activity. Even for 11 year olds. It’s a shame.

  8. Tsitika

    December 4, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I think the attitude towards people who are presumably homeless is kind of sad here. I’m sure some of the money from panhandling ends up with drugs due to the rampant addiction problems among homeless people. Some of it will also go to giving those people their only meal of the day, a problem I assume this girl is fortunate enough not to face.

    They told her she could do her business outside the park’s boundaries. It’s not like they fined her or did her some grave injustice…it sounds like they quite nicely enforced the bylaw and offered her alternatives. I’m all for kids being entrepreneurial! But nothing is stopping her from doing her business elsewhere, and I don’t like building this straw-man argument about homeless people begging as though they are the enemy.

    • Fabel

      December 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Yeah, I was not okay with the whole “begging for drug money” thing; to see that sentiment expressed here kind of shocked me, actually? It’s a shitty attitude to have about the homeless population.

    • Julie

      December 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

      I think it was because the video said there were people holding up a sign that said “got pot?”

  9. Emmali Lucia

    December 4, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Portland is AWFUL about this. Little kids will get in trouble for selling lemonade… It’s ridiculous.

  10. Evelyn

    December 4, 2013 at 9:21 am

    While I do sympathise I am not comfortable with rules,regulations and laws not counting if someone is cute or being waved if staff hired and trained to police and not judge or set policy decide that a cause is worthy. Market stall holders have to go through processes and checks for a reason, not least of which is that if everyone who let a cute kid handle the sales or told inspectors that proceeds were for a charity could sell where they liked then the market would be a nightmare for shoppers, as would the nearby streets. Half the gypsies who stopped people in my local town to sell lucky heather used kids before controls of people selling tightened, now locally to me if you want to sell you need a license and can’t stop people and thrust things in their faces or surround them with your family. Not what the girl here was doing, but people will exploit the system like that if there is a “cute girl for charity” clause. Just to be clear, I really don’t object to gypsies selling lucky heather, but I do object to being accosted and intimidated or unable to move past pop up stalls placed where people are trying to walk and that is exactly what it is like where I live when regulations on street vendors are relaxed.

    Also, all those market stall holders who are selling things to feed families and keep rooves over their heads, why do they have to obey rules a little girl who makes things with her (adult) uncles help to sell presumably with her (adult) parents consent and possibly assistance to pay for something normally her (adult) parents’ responsibility, just because she is a little girl. Who is to say that they aren’t using the fact that she is a child to get her to sell/fundraise on their behalf to skip rules and regulations on doing it properly.

    • SusannahJoy

      December 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Yeah, I found it a little weird that her parents weren’t taking care of it. I mean, I get it, braces are EXPENSIVE! But instead of saving money (she’s only 10, it’s not like it’s super urgent that she get them now), they let her go out and to try to raise money? Yeah, telling her that begging is ok was totally wrong, but they couldn’t let her continue. There are few things that piss me off more than when a parent uses their kids to raise money. It’s so creepy.

  11. guest33

    December 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I think it is important that kids can’t sell without registering- it is really easy for kids to be exploited by adults and some oversight would be good for their own safety. It’s sad that we live in a world like this but if you read up on the subject people do force kids to sell things and turn the money over to adults for not so charitable causes.

  12. disqus_WjKIYzni5a

    December 4, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    It’s nice that someone that age has found something to stand for.

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