“I wanted to make another event to get people to shop local instead of the big corporate places,” said Citko, whose husband, Bobby, is a former Sea Cliff fire chief.
She has included more than 20 vendors who are middle and high school students in the marketplace. She wants to show the community that these “youthpreneurs,” as she calls them, can develop business ideas of their own.
“It’s pretty amazing to see that kind of responsibility come out of a kid,” Citko said. “Just the look on their faces when people are purchasing [things] from them that they truly enjoy making is a nice feeling.”
North Shore High School senior Sonja Rose Bogolubov, 17, is one of the “youthpreneurs.” She owns and operates HEARTware, a nonprofit that gives the funds it raises, through the sale of her handmade, heart-themed jewelry, to Russian Gift of Life. That nonprofit, she said, sends cardiology experts from around the world to Russia to perform heart surgery on children whose families cannot afford it.
Bogolubov quickly agreed to join the Mistletoe Marketplace when asked by Citko. She said she was excited about the opportunity to expand her business, and to work alongside other young entrepreneurs.
“I think it’s kind of inspiring,” Bogolubov said. “These are my peers, and they’ve done very similar things, and it’s good to be able to learn from them and look at what other people are doing.”
Among the youngest entrepreneurs at the marketplace will be Madison O’Donnell, 12, a seventh-grader at North Shore Middle School. She loves to draw, which Citko — a friend of Madison’s mother, Stacey O’Donnell — wanted to promote by buying her a greeting card kit for Christmas last year. Madison readily accepted an invitation by Citko to sell her Christmas, Hanukkah and birthday cards at the marketplace.
“I think it’s a good lesson to teach the kids,” Stacey O’Donnell said. “Being an entrepreneur is a great thing, especially doing something that you love. I would love to see her do something in the arts [as a career] and use her creative spirit, because it’s really her best asset.”
Citko said that most of the proceeds from the marketplace would be returned to the Sea Cliff community. She was unsure which organizations she would support, but she said the Sea Cliff Fire Department and the Mutual Concerns Committee are two strong possibilities.
Marketplace hours on Dec. 8 will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 67 Roslyn Ave. in Sea Cliff. Interested vendors can call (516) 629-5825 to reserve a spot.
Courtney Citko likes to run events. She used to run farmers markets in Farmingdale and Deer Park before becoming a director with Pampered Chef, a company that sells kitchen utensils to home cooks.
Earlier this year, Citko thought about how her hometown of Sea Cliff doesn’t have as many local vendors as other communities where she has worked. After careful thought and planning, she developed the Mistletoe Marketplace, which will sell locally made goods on the Sea Cliff Firehouse’s second floor on Dec. 8. Food, chocolate, artwork and Christmas paraphernalia will be offered.