Seizing Business Opportunity with the School Store

Mansi Peters, Reporter

Located in the cafeteria, the school store thrives as an element of business opportunity for students with Everest Outfitters apparel for sale on one end of the store and the Forest Cafe on the other. 

The Forest Cafe began last year as an initiative to sell drinks such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and lemonade to students. This business idea was inspired by nearby schools with similar programs to sell consumable and popular drinks in school. 

Largely focused on special needs students, the cafe aims to provide access to opportunity and new life skills. In an interview with job coach and special needs aid Ms. Lisa Hanne, she assured that the cafe is “completely student run” with only necessary assistance from aids. 

Ms. Hanne finds great value in the cafe and the life skills it offers the students. “I think it helps after high school to get a job,” said Hanne, “but during school, it also helps math skills with the register and customer service.” 

Upon the cafe’s opening in the 2021-2022 school year, it was located in the Food and Nutrition classroom, rather than the current and popular lunchroom spot. Although successful then, “it’s just nicer to have our own space,” said Hanne. Now, the store remains uninterrupted by classes going on. 

In order to have the cafe in the school store, however, permission was needed from DECA Advisor Mrs. Jodi Peterson, with the store being a resource for DECA’s business endeavors. “We made a deal if we can be in here, we would sell their stuff,” said Hanne. 

The school store began to lose its old name as the DECA Depot within the past two years. The apparel in the store is sold under the name Everest Outfitters, raising questions about whether Everest Outfitters replaced the DECA Depot and what this new era of the school store contains.

DECA Advisor Mr. Alex Schremp clears the confusion. “Everest Outfitters is our T-shirt printing business,” he said, while DECA Depot was the name of the store when all elements of it were run by DECA. 

Currently, the Forest Cafe has taken over the role of selling consumable products, creating a system of cohesion and mutual benefits. “It’s been great,” said Mr. Schremp regarding the new cafe. 

Before, DECA struggled with the staffing that came with selling food and drinks. With the new Forest Cafe, “that problem will be well taken care of,” said Schremp. 

Operational and creative decisions, such as the actual design of the apparel, are under the control of the executive board of DECA, which includes students from grades 10-12. “I think everything is student designed,” said Schremp. 

Similar to the Forest Cafe, Schremp finds the opportunity to design the apparel and make operational decisions themselves to be largely beneficial to the students. “It allows real world business experience,” said Schremp.

The school store contributes to the major success of Everest Outfitters. The store sold over $10,000 over Homecoming week. The profit goes towards “DECA, scholarships, covering meals, and trips,” said Schremp. 

In an effort to continue their ambition and success, Everest Outfitters has an exciting new chapter of online marketing with Shopify. DECA Advisor, Mrs. Jodi Peterson, explained how Shopify “will position ourselves to better reach customers online and through social shopping.”

Peterson finds a great new opportunity for success and financial gain in Shopify. “Retail is changing and we need to change,” said Peterson. 

The school store is versatile in its offerings and while the development of a combined cafe and apparel store is new, the two are confident in their relationship and profits; from the customers to those in charge, there seems to be a positive attitude towards the future of the store.