Driven by her budding entrepreneurial instincts, an 11-year-old Oregon girl wanted to help her dad pay for her braces by selling mistletoe over the holidays, but she got tangled up in red tape instead.
Madison Root, of Portland, hit the downtown market on Saturday morning to sell the plants that she said she cut and wrapped herself from her uncle’s farm in Newberg, Ore.
“I felt like I could help my dad with the money,” she told ABC News affiliate KATU News.
But a private security guard hired by Portland Saturday Market asked her to stop selling the mistletoe because city rules ban conducting business or soliciting at a park without proper approval and documentation.
Chapter 10.12 of the Portland city code states that soliciting or conducting business includes the display of ”goods, or descriptions or depictions of goods or services, with the intent to engage any member of the public in a transaction for the sale of any good or service.”
The guard told Madison that she could sell her mistletoe on the city sidewalk outside the park’s boundaries, but not in the market, or simply ask people for donations for her braces, she told KATU News.
“The guard told her she can beg if she wanted but she can’t sell the mistletoe,” Root’s father, Ashton told, ABCNews.com. He also said that Root “does not want to encourage begging and wants people to earn their living… She is so keen on high work ethic.”
“I don’t want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg,” Madison told KATU News. “I wouldn’t think I’d have any problems because people are asking for money, people are selling stuff, this is a public place.”
However, vendors pay to rent a vending booth and are scrutinized before they qualify for the Portland Saturday Market, officials said.
“Applying for a booth is a juried process. I had to show samples of my jewelry to a panel of jurists. … We have to pay to maintain our spot at the market,” Viki Ciesiul, owner and designer of Viki Homemade Jewelry told ABCNews.com today.
Ciesiul, who has entered her fourth year as a vendor at the Saturday Market, said she had mixed feelings about Madison’s story.
“We [vendors] are trying to avoid too many types of street vendors who might bring the place down,” she said. “There are many ways she can participate and rules are there for a reason.”
Mark Ross, a spokesman for the Portland Parks Bureau, which manages the city park and rents it to the Saturday Market, said asking for donations in public is permitted. Asking for donations is “a form of free speech, protected under the First Amendment,” Ross told ABCNews.com.
Ross declined to comment about the incident involving Madison and the security guard, except to note that the Saturday Market administration designates and enforces its rules once the space has been leased to them.
After Madison’s story aired at 5 p.m. Sunday, a viewer called to order 30 bags of mistletoe. “Since the story aired, mistletoe orders mushroomed… even McKinzei Farms, one of the biggest selling Christmas tree farms in the area, made a $1,000 donation to Madison’s braces,” said Root’s father.
Root had her first set of braces placed today.