Authorities Were Called On A 13-Year-Old Selling Hot Dogs, But His City Had His Back
Thirteen-year-old Jaequan Faulkner has been selling hot dogs for years, but this summer his business almost got shut down.
We’ve seen it countless times this summer: a black person is out in public, perhaps at the pool, maybe doing some grilling or even just delivering newspapers, and they get the police called on them by some concerned white citizen.
Sometimes the person who calls the police is fired for being racist.
Then we all move on until the same thing happens again a few days later.
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This time, the authorities were called on Minneapolis’ 13-year-old Jaequan Faulkner, CBS Minnesota reports.
For the last few summers, Faulkner’s used his uncle’s old hot dog roaster to run a hot dog stand in his neighborhood called Mr. Faulkner’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs.
With hot dogs going for $1.50 and Polish dogs at just $2.00, Faulkner’s built quite a following.
Someone, however, wasn’t comfortable with the young entrepreneur’s work and called the health department on him, asking the city shut down Mr. Faulkner’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs for operating without a license.
We first met Jaequan Faulkner and his summer hot dog stand in June. Someone complained to the city. Instead of shutting his stand down, the city of Minneapolis stepped up to help the 13-year-old get his permit. Next on @kare11. pic.twitter.com/WYKA8rqzEz— Heidi Wigdahl (@HeidiWigdahl) July 16, 2018'
The health department sent someone to investigate and found Faulkner was, in fact, operating without the proper documents.
But the department didn’t shut the 13-year-old down. In fact, it did just the opposite.
“When I realized what it was, I said, ‘No, we’re not going to just go in and shut him down like we would an unlicensed vendor,” Dan Huff, who works as the city’s environmental health director, told CNN. “We can help him get his permit. Let’s make this a positive thing and help him become a small business owner.”
Huff and his colleagues hooked Faulkner up with food safety training, cooking thermometers, sterile food containers, hand sanitizer and utensil cleaning equipment, the Star Tribune reports.
The officials also helped him prep for a health inspection and paid $87 out of their own pockets for his license.
Faulkner began his business to earn money to buy clothes; in recent summers, however, he told the health department officials he’s grown not to care about the money he makes.
He said his business is now about “the cooking and the people. I see someone go by with a frown on their face. I’m there with a smile, and then I see a smile on their face. I just made a smile on somebody’s face by selling them a hot dog.”
Helping people to smile is vital to Faulkner, who says he has struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. He wants to share the joy with his cooking and now hopes to put aside a portion of his profits to donate to charities helping teens battle their depression and suicidal thoughts.
The health department decided merely getting Faulkner up and running with the city government wasn’t enough, so they put him in touch with a group called NEON (Northside Economic Opportunity Network), a nonprofit that “works to empower ‘underserved entrepreneurs.’”
The nonprofit gave Faulkner training in business, helping him write a business plan and teaching him about bookkeeping, pricing theory and marketing strategies.
With NEON’s help, Faulkner is now working to expand his business; he’ll be taking his stand on the road, doing pop-up shops in different places in the city. He also now hopes to save enough to buy a food truck.
Faulkner says he’s overjoyed at how all of this has turned out and told KARE 11 that he’s amazed at the big hearts of his city’s officials.
“I’m like, ‘Dang, the city’s not the bad guys in this situation,’” Faulkner said. “They’re actually the ones who are helping me. It makes me feel kind of — not kind of — really proud that people know what I’m doing.”
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