Behind the counter

March 9, 2016, 1:35 p.m. | By Zewde Ingram | 6 years, 9 months ago

An inside look into Blair's school store

During lunch the school store opens, catering to Blazers' massive appetites and attracting customers with a $1.25 for two bags of chips deal. Students flock to the counter, whether to satiate their daily Doritos fix, grab a pop tart to go or relieve pent up frustration with jammed vending machines. What makes the school store unique is that while its students who purchase from the store, it is also students who run it. From ordering merchandise to providing customer service, Blair students are the ones in charge behind the counter.

Blazers work behind the counter at the school store.  Photo courtesy of Donald De Alwis.

The school store is a business class which doubles as an in-school internship that requires no prerequisite. According to school store staff member senior Nickson Minja, the store makes 195 dollars in a typical week. "We actually made 237 dollars in recent sales," Minja states elatedly. "It was a really good week." There are three main positions behind the counter: tally, sales and cashier. As acting organizer, working tally involves documenting which items are sold in order to gauge the quantity of items needed to be purchased later from the vendor. Two staff members work the sales" position, which requires interacting with customers and processing orders. "Making customers smile is a skill I have learned as they feel more willing to spend their money," Minja adds with a laugh. The cashier position deals directly with the monetary transaction. The business requires constant upkeep, which staff members maintain through impeccable recordkeeping. "The day after we open we count money and tallies of the products we sold and input them into excel," senior Yeabsira Mezgebe says. "It tells us our profit and how many products we have left as well."

When products are running low, the team orders from a wholesale company. "We buy products in bulk and they get delivered to the school," staff member Brandon Royal says. The vendor, Royalle Dining Services, is a local company that operates in the Baltimore-D.C. metropolitan area. Part of the school store's profits are budgeted towards the purchase of additional goods, though a certain percentage is deposited to Blair's Financial Office.

The school store is a great asset for students like Minja and Mezgebe, who are interested in pursuing business in the future. During Minja's junior year he took an accounting class after deciding to pursue a career in business. A teacher recommended he work in the school store for additional experience. "It looks good for college applications and resumes which is important as I want to enter the business world," Minja says. Mezgebe is also grateful for what he has learned working at the school store, from learning how to navigate excel to managing stock. "It taught me how to manage money and actually invest in a company," Mezgebe states. "Hopefully I will have my own company one day," Mezgebe adds dreamily.

At the end of this year, the entire staff is treated to a trip in New York, where they will visit prominent business institutions. "It is so exciting that we get to visit New York when we are done," Minja says beaming with joy, "We're probably going to see Wall Street." The school store is not without its quirks, from the industrious tight-knit staff to odd customer interactions. "We had someone give us a $100 bill," Minja laughs, "This was the first year we have ever seen that."

The school store not only caters to the caloric needs of Blazers, but also contributes to the school's funds and to the education of students interested in business. Behind the counter, students learn essential skills from responsibility to management. Each day, the store opens during fifth period and the student-run enterprise never fails all the pop-tart connoisseurs and Cheetos lovers of Blair.

Tags: school store Nickson Minja Yeabsira Mezgebe

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