Award: Entrepreneur of the Year
City: Gig Harbor
Justin Dennis approached the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance in Spring 2017 to present his proposed product – succulent planters utilizing recycled Cougar Gold cheese tins – for sale at the Gig Harbor Waterfront Farmers Market. Justin received coaching from his father, Chet Dennis, prior to the presentation, including advice to “be sure to look them in the eye when you are talking to them”. His product was approved by the jury and Justin set to work preparing to be a vendor at the market that summer.
Justin had found his inspiration after visiting the WSU Creamery in Pullman and seeing a large stack of empty tins. With guidance from his parents, Justin has taken responsibility for every aspect of the business, including putting together his plan, buying supplies, meeting permit requirements, managing multiple methods of payment, and social media promotions. Each week spent at his “WSU Table Plants by Justin” booth included different learning opportunities on topics such as salesmanship and taxes.
The Waterfront Alliance staff were impressed by Justin’s creativity and commitment. He arrived on time for set-up, and always had his booth taken down quickly at the end of each market day.
Justin’s goal is to create a “Kids’ Farmers Market Booth” at the market so that other young people can join him. He is actively working toward this goal, as well as on introducing new products into his own line. In addition to his budding entrepreneurship, Justin has also shown himself to have a philanthropic nature; he sold his planters at Gig Harbor’s Girls Night Out, and donated $1 from every sale to a local charity.
Main Streets are, at their best, places for people of all ages to learn, explore, challenge themselves, and engage in their local economy. We are delighted to recognize Justin for his entrepreneurial and community-minded spirit.