Tuesday January 1, 2013

WILLIAMSTOWN

For students in Becky Tattersall’s class, running The Red Zone is practical business.

Dormant since the 1980s, the school store was resurrected last year as a project of the PEP (Positive Energy People) Club, led by physical education teacher and coach Lynn Jordan, and business educator Becky Tattersall.

This year, the teachers have helped students expand the school store, The Red Zone, from a window-front counter to a full-fledged retail store.

The space, located next to the school’s cafeteria, formerly served as a storage room for excess library materials. Together, staff and students renovated the room into a boutique of school spirit, from the red-and-black walls to the hooded sweatshirts, sold with a student-designed "Mount Greylock Mounties" logo.

The store is managed by students in a new business course Tattersall developed this year, small business management. It is part of the Career Pathways program offered at the school.

"I think it’s a good idea because it gives people the perspective of what it takes to run a business," said senior Brandon Richard, a member of the class.

Each week, students staff the store on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, during middle school and high school lunch hours. The small business management class students are in charge of all operations: pricing items; stocking and managing inventory; arranging displays; running the cash register and maintaining transaction records; selecting and ordering products; and marketing and promoting the store itself.


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"It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun," said sophomore Lucy Barrett.

One real-life lesson that struck students this year involved The Red Zone’s top-selling items -- candy and snacks.

"This was tough with the new nutrition laws," said senior Tyler Picard, referring to federal laws implemented this year to limit sugary, high-calorie foods in schools.

The school store staff had to research what could be sold and decide what to sell, based on their patrons’ tastes. Qualifying treats that the store carries are Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Mentos and York Peppermint Patties, sold at prices ranging from 25 cents to a dollar.

Senior James Cahill said the other courses in the Career Pathways program, like marketing and personal finance, have been helpful in giving students the skills they need to run the store and also think about sustaining it by carving a niche in the market.

For example, Picard designed a new logo, seen on Mount Greylock sweatshirts and T-shirts sold in the store. The staff is considering adding neck ties to its merchandise list because student athletes dress up on game days. The Red Zone also collaborated with the PEP Club to produce a DVD of the Class of 2013’s school pep rally.

"We’re looking for ways to promote school spirit. This helps get everyone involved," Tattersall said.

To reach Jenn Smith:
jsmith@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6239
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink