Tips for Opening and Running a School Store

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Tips for how to open and run a school store

Opening a School Store can be an enormously rewarding experience, but also a daunting one. With a few simple steps you can help your students utilize classroom concepts in a real world setting and raise money for your school. Still not sure if you are up to the task, let Inkhead help. Consider the following:

The Benefits of Operating a School Store

1. Raise money.  Whether the store is in a single classroom, a rolling cart, a supply closet, or has it’s own building, it can be an additional source of income for your school. A school store can raise money for trips, pizza parties and field days. It can also help fund larger projects such as facility improvements.

2. Keep students prepared for classes.  Forgotten pencils and notebooks don’t need to be a concern if there is a school store on site.  Teachers that require a specific composition book or color of pen ink can make sure they are stocked at the store for availability.

3. Create a hands-on learning environment for students.  What better way to prepare students for the work force than to have them help with the school store? They can help in choosing merchandise, staffing and scheduling the store, making change, and taking inventory.  When the time comes, they can also help decide how to use the profits. Consider having students apply for a position, and recommend faculty references.

4. Promote school spirit.  Students can develop a sense of pride in themselves as well as in their school.  They can help decide on logos and slogans for the merchandise and take pleasure in the benefits of their hard work.

Convinced? Ok, it all sounds like a pretty good idea, but where do you even begin?

Getting Started

1. Choose your adult staff.  Ideally the store would be supervised by school faculty or a PTA member.  This supervisor would be in charge of directing the student workers, budgeting, placing orders for products, and monitoring profit and taxes.

2. Choose your location and hours of operation. Most school stores operate before school and during recess, study halls, and lunches. Your location could be a permanent room or closet, or it could be a self-contained cart that can be locked up when not in use.

3. Hire Students.  Student workers should be doing well in their classes, otherwise their time is better spent studying.  Make sure students have their parent’s permission to work in the store. Make sure to outline each student’s responsibilities and have them agree to the rules of store conduct. Role play with your staff to teach customer service excellence.

4. Choose your product line.  First, get teacher recommendations, they know what supplies their students will need.  Also, consult your student workers, they will know what items are popular with their classmates.  Inkhead can also help you find products that will showcase your school’s mascot and be useful and fun.  In addition to pencils, notebooks and erasers, consider t-shirts, sweatshirts, back packs, water bottles, and temporary tattoos!  Take inventory regularly and reorder when stock begins to get low.

5. Get the word out. Post flyers around the school letting everyone know you are open for business.  Ask the office to add a student designed advertisement to the morning announcements.  Make sure your hours are posted clearly on all advertisements.  Consider handing our coupons for a free gift with purchase or first visit.  Create take-home order forms for parents to purchase your products as well.

Try to have a vision from the beginning of why your store is raising money. If your students help create the goal, they can be motivated to help reach it. It can also help sell your products to parents and faculty when they know where the money is ultimately going. The goal can be different each year, or each quarter. You could consider sales goals for older students with rewards for achievement. The experience should always be fun, include your staff in the decision making processes, and let them steer as much as possible.

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