Among the hustle and bustle of the Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market, you may have heard a young man ask, “Do you have a dog?” He’s pretty persistent with his question because he’s pretty serious about successfully selling his home made dog treats. This earnest vendor is Samme Hejka, and his business is Samme’s Special Dog Treats.

One of Samme’s teachers knew that Samme liked to cook for himself, especially cookies. She thought Samme could expand his repertoire to include dog treats. Samme’s teacher, as well as his parents, Michelle Fecteau and Eddie Hejka, thought getting Samme involved with the Grandmont Rosedale community as a Farmers’ Market vendor would not only be a great way for him to earn money, but also a way for people to get to know Samme. Samme has autism and, as Michelle says, “the more people who know who Samme is, the safer he is. It’s about community.” Either Michelle or Eddie are with Samme at the Market, prompting him to answer customer questions, to let customers know that the treats are $1 per bag, and to say thank you. Both of Samme’s parents are happy to explain autism, for “it’s always good to educate people about autism,” but they would really like people to get to know who Samme is.

THE HARD WORK OF EARNING MONEY

Judging from this, his first year at the Market, Samme’s a hard working vendor with an original and, according to several neighborhood dogs who have tried them, a delicious product. Like most parents, Michelle and Eddie are also interested in teaching their son about the work hard, earn money equation. A good Market day for Samme is when he sells out before the Market is over at 8pm. Once the last dog treat has been sold, Samme counts his money with the plan, as he says, to “save it.” Samme likes working at the Market, Michelle says, “but he also finds it hard. He earns his money, for sure.” The money Samme earns most often lasts until his next trip to the movies where he buys his usual, a large popcorn and a small Sprite.

Samme’s not hard to find at the Market. He’s the only one selling dog treats. Stop by, introduce yourself, and ask Samme about how he likes being in business for himself.

The Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 4pm – 8pm through October 12 at the North Rosedale Park Community House parking lot at 18445 Scarsdale. For more information about the Market, contact Chelsea Neblett at cneblett@grandmontrosedale.com.

For more information about autism, visit https://autismallianceofmichigan.org/