By Mark Ambrogi
Carmel High School business students will get some hands-on experience running their Holiday Secret Shop.
The student-operated retail store, which sells assorted gifts to children, is set for Nov. 28 to Dec. 3 at CHS. The hours are 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3.
Laura Cardamon, CHS business teacher, said it has been a CHS tradition for more than 35 years. The shop is created by WBL (Work-Based Learning) Business Cooperative Experiences and Strategic Marketing senior classes. In 2015, the shop had sales of more than $12,000, the most successful year to date. All profits benefit Carmel DECA.
“Children are instantly transported into a holiday wonderland,” Cardamon said. “Kids have the unique and independent opportunity to buy gifts for their loved ones and friends. All gifts, such as jewelry, toys, candles, mugs, blankets and stuffed animals, are $10 or less.”
The student helpers wrap the gifts and then walk the children back to their waiting parents.
The students are divided into four committees: promotion, buying, merchandising and decorating.
“Each committee has goals to accomplish,” Cardamon said. “These senior students learn how a business operates. They learn about leadership skills, initiative, attention to details, cooperation, following directions, customer service and selling techniques.”
The student committee managers are Hannah Costlow, decorating; Mitch Jenson, merchandising; Matt Okon, promotion; and Lauren Reilly, buying.
“We made our theme non-religious so every religion could enjoy it, and the theme we came up with was the gingerbread house,” Costlow said. “We bought decorations on Amazon and other websites. We decorated so it would be fun for the kids when they came in.”
Reilly said her committee buys items online and has them shipped to the school
“We try to build up an inventory we think kids would like to buy for gifts,” Reilly said. “This year we bought a lot of toys, candles, mugs and cups. We usually buy two dozen of one item or buy them in packs to sell separately. I think this really teaches us how to manage money.”
Jenson said his committee’s job is to keep track of the inventory.
“We have to keep track of how much we paid and how much we are going to be selling each item for,” Jensen said. “At the end, we calculate how much profit we are going to make. Lately we have shifted the focus to how the shop is going to be set up.”