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School-based enterprise: the DECA STORiole.

What is the STORiole? The DECA STORiole is a school store operated by the Marketing Management and DECA students at St. Louis Park High School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The name is a result of combining the school's mascot, which is an Oriole, and the word "Store," hence, STORiole. Coming up with the store name was the easy part. But why should a marketing educator choose to add the responsibility of a school store to his or her workload?

It was my third year teaching, and I was searching for a way to engage my students in the marketing curriculum, as well as showcase the marketing education program. I wanted the students to put what they were learning to the test and see if it is indeed applicable to the business world. I wanted to answer those hated questions, "Why do we have to do this?" and, "Am I ever going to use this in the future?" If students could transfer their knowledge from class to their jobs in the school store, they would be equipped with the number-one skill employers are looking for in employees--transfer of knowledge from one area to another efficiently and quickly.

School stores are an excellent way for marketing teachers to teach the transferable skills and "soft" skills that employers are looking for: the ability to communicate, interact with customers, work with others, be a part of a team, adapt and learn. The marketing curriculum must incorporate high standards and multi-tasked activities that are challenging and thought provoking. It is our job as marketing educators to equip our students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to be successful in the future workforce.

Starting the Store

Once I had decided I was going to engage my students with a school store, the two most critical questions that needed to be answered were: where will the store be located, and how will the store be funded?

Fortunately, in my case, the volunteer office was moving to a different location, and I put a bug in the principal's ear about using that space for a school store. The room is approximately 700 square feet, a perfect size for a full-service store. The location is ideal. It is in a high-traffic area next to the lunchroom.

The money we received to start "the DECA STORiole" was made possible through a $3,000 state education entrepreneurship grant. We also received $500 from a local entrepreneur, Erik Bloomquist, owner of Colonial Craft, who is the father of a student in the marketing program. Therefore, with a little luck and help from the state, our concept was starting to materialize.

It was time to get started. We formed an advisory committee made up of students, teachers, administrators, parents and local businesspeople. We formed four departments and established the major duties of each:

Marketing and Sales

* develop a survey to question students about the product mix

* create a contest to name the store

* plan and promote the grand opening

* contact vendors/suppliers

Finance/Operations

* set up a business checking account

* maintain and analyze business expenses

* buy and set up a cash terminal

* design forms for money and the cash terminal

* set prices and PLU numbers for products

Human Resources

* develop an employee handbook

* train students on business policies

* design an application and other forms

Store Design

* design the store layout/blueprint

* construct the store interior

* design and craft the exterior store sign

The advisory committee members were eager to get involved. Some gave money, offered advice and expertise, or gave their time and labor. It was an opportunity for the students to connect with the business industry and a chance for businesses to take part in educating our future business leaders.

It began happening before my own eyes. Students were transferring what they learned in class and were applying their knowledge in the development and operation of the school store. Co-curricular activities--activities working hand-in-hand with academics--help all students realize their full potentials. The students have not asked those two hated questions during this project. They have taken ownership of the store, and I have observed student growth, pride and identity. The gap between school and everyday life is beginning to shrink.

Rollin' in the Dough

The DECA STORiole has been in operation for one year, and we are proud to announce that we are actually making a profit. The profits earned are used to support students attending various DECA conferences, scholarships for students attending postsecondary education and purchasing curriculum for the marketing program.

Profits from the DECA STORiole have also been used to support other school groups and programs such as Student Council, BPA (Business Professionals of America), and Park Spanish Immersion, and some of the profits are used to pay the salary of the student store manager, who uses the store as a marketing internship site.

Current Plans

The students of the DECA STORiole have recently added a new product/service to the store. After noticing that there was an increasing amount of requests for specialized school-spirit apparel for athletic groups and school clubs, the students and I wrote a grant proposal requesting $18,000 for an embroidery system. We received the grant and are now working on promoting the STORiole Stitch, a department of the DECA STORiole that specializes in embroidery services.

Future Plans

What is next? The DECA STORiole is saving its profits to expand the product mix. In compliance with the health department, we are working on installing the proper equipment to operate a fresh-baked cookie kitchen.

Responsibility Equals Success

So, I ask myself, why should a marketing educator take on the responsibility of starting a school store? The answer to this question is a simple one and can be answered in two words--STUDENT SUCCESS!

Sophia Ross is the marketing education teacher/coordinator at Saint Louis Park High School in Saint Louis Park, Minn. She has been teaching for five years and, in those five years, has developed her high school's marketing education program. She currently teaches fashion merchandising and marketing; sports, entertainment, and tourism marketing; marketing and management seminar; marketing and management internship; school store; and DECA. Ross holds an A.A. degree in visual presentation and space design from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles, Calif., and a B.S. in marketing/vocational education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and she is currently completing the last component of her master's degree from Saint Mary's University-Winona, Minn.
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Title Annotation:St. Louis Park High School, Minnesota
Author:Ross, Sophia M.
Publication:Techniques
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
Words:1074
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