- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - When you talk to the articulate Grover Grafton, you get the impression that he is a young man with a head for business. The Wyoming-born youth is conquering the Williston boom, one farmer’s market at a time, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/1y2wEPF ) reported.

Grover, 11, has been conducting business for years. He started his sole proprietorship, Gro. Co., to earn revenue selling tie-dye, key chains and lemonade. When he moved to Williston, he researched the local market and started selling plants and “party balls,” or mason jars resembling sippy cups, the latter product sold rapidly to his father’s coworkers before the Super Bowl.

“I made quite a bit of revenue,” Grover said.

“I mowed lawns when I was younger, but there is not a lot of ways young kids can make money nowadays,” said his father, Dan Grafton. “He’s got a green thumb and is kind of an entrepreneur.”

Dan relocated from Glenrock, Wyoming, to Williston three years ago.

He works as a safety supervisor for Oasis Petroleum, and had his wife Kelli, two daughters, Charli, 10, and Eme, 9, and Grover move here last year.

Gro. Co. is registered in North Dakota and Wyoming. With his earnings, he buys all of the equipment and tools necessary for plants and party balls. He earns over $100 per week from his business, selling primarily at the local weekend farmer’s market, but he is also interested in pursuing online sales.

Grover is home-schooled and will enter the sixth grade in the fall. Kelli, a former attorney, teaches him and his sisters, most recently about cost analysis and what it takes to become a good businessperson. The children are gifted students, scoring above the 98th percentile in state testing. Grover’s math skills are on par with 10th-graders.

The Graftons enjoy being a part of a “home-school subculture,” which raises “free-thinkers,” Dan said. As result of his creativity, Grover has turned the Grafton basement into a small greenhouse, and now has his own garden in the backyard.

“I like seeing something grow,” Grover said. He admitted that he went “overboard” growing hundreds of terrariums in the basement and trying to sell them to his father’s male coworkers during football season. When that endeavor didn’t pan out, he adapted and started selling them at the farmer’s market to female customers.

The lesson learned: “I thought about the business market,” Grover said.

“The next evolution from this is I may not have a garage left,” Dan said, adding his son mainly sells terrariums, but plans on selling up to 20 different types of herbs next year.

Grover has inspired his sisters to start their own businesses. The girls sell their own mason jar modifications at the farmer’s market. Still, he is a businessman.

“He hired his two sisters to work for him, but fired them about 15 times each,” Dan said, adding his son has begun learning about banking and the stock market, so of course the next progression was starting his own Bank of Grover in which he loans money to his sisters.

The Graftons sometime travel out of state to sell the childrens’ products, but Grover plans to stay local and sell his terrariums for $10 and his party balls at $8 at the farmer’s market until September. His father is proud of his son and continues to teach him how to both make money and provide a quality business for the North Dakota community.

“There is so much entrepreneurship with the Williston oil boom,” Dan said. “People without opportunities come here and have a great opportunity to do what they want. It’s a good example of strong economic growth.”

Will Grover become a great businessman in Williston? He is certainly on the right track.


Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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