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The world needs more entrepreneurs like Chris Odishaw PDF Print E-mail
Written by Donald Cooper   
ImageChris Odishaw is probably going to kill me for writing about him but you need to know about this guy. Chris runs the very successful Battleford Furniture store located in The Battlefords, Saskatchewan - population 20,000.

I was in Chris' store not long before Halloween last year, preparing for a one-day small business management boot camp that he had helped to organize for his community - not only has he owned and operated a very successful furniture, mattress and appliance store for the past 25 years, he's very involved with the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce and, for the past six years or so, has served as the Mayor of Battleford.

Chris Odishaw
Behind the cash counter at Battleford Furniture was a pile of 50 or so beautiful pumpkins, so being naturally curious, I asked what he planned to do with them. Here's the wonderful story of human kindness and entrepreneurial brilliance that has an important lesson for all of us.

A few days earlier an eight-year-old girl had come into Battleford Furniture with her mother. She was selling pumpkins. During the summer she had grown a garden full of pumpkins and was now selling them for $1 each to raise money to take her family on a trip to Edmonton, because, as she explained to Chris: "We've never been anywhere before."

Her goal was to raise $100 from her pumpkin project.

Chris asked her if she had two really special pumpkins that he could buy for his daughters. The young girl replied that she indeed had two identical large pumpkins and Chris bought them for $50 each.

He then suggested that she see how many of her pumpkins she could sell in the community for her $1 asking price, then to come back to him and he would buy what she had left for $2 each, which is why he had 67 pumpkins behind his cash desk. That's the ‘human kindness' part.

Now, here's the clever ‘entrepreneurial' part.

Using those 67 pumpkins, Chris was advertised a Halloween pumpkin carving contest in his weekly flyer. He invited folks to bring their kids in to choose a pumpkin, take it home, carve and decorate it and bring it back to the store the weekend before Halloween. The "best" pumpkin would win a $250 Battleford Furniture Gift Certificate. It was a huge success and, in the process, he helped a young girl to be an entrepreneur. Who knows where she might go in her life, all because one kind and insightful business person was an "encourager".

Yes, the world definitely needs more people like Chris Odishaw.

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability. For more information, or to subscribe to his thought-provoking free business e-newsletter, go to


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