Young Barnard Entrepreneur Fills Need.
The Barnard General Store made a business decision to no
longer carry out of state newspapers this winter when the distributor raised
the costs of the national papers. Many responded via the towns listserv and in
person that they valued this service enough that they’d be willing to pay a
surcharge to be able to pick up papers in town rather than drive to Woodstock
or Bethel. 13 year old Oliver Szott, an 8th grade student with an
entrepreneurial sprit, is now working to fill this gap with the help of Sara Widness
of the Fan house.
Oliver began with his first Sunday distribution on August 12th, and sold 9 Sunday New York Times and 2 Boston Globes. He’ll be holding “Office hours” each Sunday from 8:30-10:30 with some extra copies on hand, as well as taking orders for the weekly papers. As a busy 13 year old with school and other obligations, Oliver can’t be on hand every day to staff a newspaper stand, but weekday papers will be available by subscription for pick-up at the Unitarian Church in Barnard.
photo by Pamela Fraser. Oliver Szott distributes Sunday papers at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Barnard.
He’s just beginning to get the word out, and hasn’t reached those without email or the list-serv. While I met with Oliver on the Barnard General Store porch, Tom Platner, a porch regular, pulled up and told him he had a customer for him.
In this digital age, Szott takes much of his news in online, and reads VOX, Business Insider and The Wall Street Journal, but he does indeed read the physical newspapers as well. His Dad, he says buys the Sunday Times, “well, now he buys it from me” he added with a chuckle.
While he stands to make a little money with the $1 surcharge on each paper, it's more of a community service than a serious business venture- there’s only so much room for expansion of this project, but it isn’t his only business venture. Oliver has had an entrepreneurial spirit for a while now, and for three years, has run VT Fizz, a “craft soda” business pouring drinks such as Blueberry Lime, and Red Currant sodas at farmers' markets. You can find him each Thursday at Feast and Field in Barnard, and on occasion at the Mt. Tom Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. (Follow him on instagram at @vermontfizz.) Before VT Fizz, in 2014, he created some electronic music he describes as “kinda weird” which is available for purchase on google play music. You can still find it by googling his name. Stay tuned for what’s next from the young Szott. His father, Randall Szott is running for representative. You can visit his political campaign page at randallszott.com.
For more information on the newspaper service, email Barnardpapers@gmail.com or stop by office hours on Sundays.