Supply and demand: Cleveland High School students learning business-savvy ways
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Nov 14, 2013 | 1558 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hidden Cleveland Cleveland High School
THE RAIDER TRADER began as a class project and has expanded into a financial success since its September grand opening. From left are Trevar Moore, Crissy Semak, Laura Hays, Malik McDermott, Reiju Goonetilleke, Bryant Karrh, Zach Lee and Forrest Fuller. Not pictured is fellow entrepreneurship student and Raider Trader worker Noah Towe.  Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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A determined group of business-savvy students are meeting an untapped market at Cleveland High School for a one-stop shop with the recent addition and unexpected expansion of the Raider Trader.

Students can be seen piling into the storage room turned storefront between classes. They walk in with change jangling in their hands and leave equipped with jerky, sugary treats and spirit wear. The prices at the store are minimal: lollipops, 25 cents; chips, 50 cents; and soda, $1, among other items.

Store clerks wait behind the register desk in anticipation of the next order. Tabulations are jotted down on an itemized list to later be entered into the point-of-sale inventory system. Inventory is checked every day to ensure the proper supplies are in hand for the next day’s sales.

Those in charge are a part of Melissa Adams’ entrepreneurship class. It is the top class in both the business and marketing tracks. Adams explained the store was added to the class in hopes of encouraging growth in the two tracks. The initial startup costs were covered from a mini-grant received by the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation and fundraising completed by the students.

There is no doubt the store has been a financial success. Roughly $75 to $80 profit is made off of average day’s sales of $150 to $200. Visitors to the school are welcome to peruse the shelves and Principal Autumn O’Bryan recently requested hours be kept during certain basketball games for the purchase of spirit wear.

“We have paid for a slushie machine that cost $1,200 and for a bus to attend the Tennessee Titans’ Learning Lab for the sports marketing and business management classes,” Adams said. “We will be adding sweatshirts and a few other things as we get the money to invest.”

The store was initially stocked by Adams or her son making trips to Walmart. The trips soon began happening every day as the school population’s demand on the store increased. Adams said the store currently has vendors for chips and candy. Plans are currently in the works to add a soda vendor.

Students in the entrepreneurship class stay busy. Their class time is split into a six- and four-day schedule. For six days a team of five mans the shop from management to inventory and marketing. Four days are then spent on working on their personal projects for the class.

Each student is required to create their own concept idea for a business. They must then analyze the information received from surveys and conduct a startup cost analysis, marketing research and financial research. Everything from the cash-flow analysis to how much money the business will spend each month is a part of the final business plan project.

Entrepreneurship students must complete the business project as part of the curriculum of being in a dual enrollment class with Cleveland State Community College. All the work can be completed within the classroom as Adams is an adjunct professor at the local college. The cost of the dual enrollment class tops out at $20, thanks to the Hope Scholarship and Cleveland State’s scholarship program.

Adams said her students have responded just as well to the business projects as they have to manning the school store.

“I knew they had the ability, I just wasn’t sure they were going to get into it as much as they have,” Adams said. “... I am blown away by how in-depth they have gotten into the planning of their businesses.”

She said even the students whose enthusiasm she doubted are really excited by the project, and into their business concepts.

There are currently nine students in the class. When four are working on their business plans, five others are working in some capacity to man the store. According to Adams, the positions include general manager, inventory stock clerk, store clerks and a promotional manager. Every student will have an opportunity to fill each role.

The entrepreneurship advisory committee suggested giving each student a certificate to show their experience.

Adams fully agrees with the idea.

“With it being that top class, I really feel like this will be a good thing for a lot of students who are juniors to put on their resume,” Adams said. “While it was not a paying job, it was a job. They will have had real world experience.”

As a service to the school, items for other clubs are on sale at the Raider Trader. There are currently six different departments and clubs with their merchandise for purchase. Students print out a report at the end of the week, fill out a transfer request and ensure the money is given to each department or club.

The biggest problem facing the entrepreneurship students is balancing the numbers.

“We had to go back two weeks ago and completely redo the procedure. They had to help me come up with the exact steps, because somebody was missing something somewhere,” Adams said. “It has been really good for them. There has been a lot of problem solving and figuring out what we are going to do and how we are going to fix [the numbers].”

Adams is proud of her students. It looks like Cleveland might want to keep its eye on the up-and-coming group of marketing and business entrepreneurs.

Explained Adams, “Not only are they learning about working and work ethic and how to work in any industry, but they are really seeing how they might be able to start their own business one day.”