Entrepreneurs in the School of Enterprise Marketing (SEM) at New London High School are ready to open Percy’s Pro Shop for a second season.
Specializing in Bulldog and New London clothing and novelty items, Percy’s Pro Shop is the result of a roundtable discussion, lead by SEM Director Missy Porath.
Last year, Porath invited retail and accounting professionals to engage in the idea of creating a student-run retail store in New London. Ideas offered at the roundtable discussion ultimately led to a retail store being located within a retail store. A seasonal setup, Percy’s Pro Shop is located inside Familiar Grounds Gift and Coffee Shop, located on the northeast corner of Pearl and Water Streets.
Owner Beth Hutchison could not be happier.
“This is a great learning example for the kids. They get to be part of the real business world,” Hutchison said. “And it’s a great way for Familiar Grounds to support them.”
Porath had a small business teacher from UW Oshkosh sit down with the students and explain the importance of a small business plan.
“Last year the Pro Shop was kind of scary at first. We didn’t know where to start,” said Sam Porath, a co-manager. “The people at Familiar Grounds showed us how we could set up and present ourselves. Without that, we would not have a good-looking store. We have our experience from last year to grow on, too. We know what we did wrong and those problems have been worked out.”
Grace Mroczynski also worked in the Pro Shop last season.
“We didn’t have enough merchandise last the season,” she recalled.
She added that the inventory for this season was ordered, some of it months ago, and nearly everything is in.
“We just have a few small things we’re waiting for, but we are so much more prepared,” Mroczynski said. “We’re confident that we’ll be in sync.”
Another experienced retailer, Noah Wetzel said that he handles the website design on the New London School website. He used cash registers from previous projects and keyed in the departments.
When open, Percy’s Pro Shop has one employee, one manager, and one teacher on each shift. The teachers are there to troubleshoot with the students.
“We have an interview process to get 20 students to work for us. Kids don’t want to give up a lot of their time and not even get paid. As an incentive to work at the shop, students receive points that are necessary for their portfolio,” Sam Porath said.
Mroczynski explained the buying process.
“We have a sales person come in from Jansport. She shows us what is popular in Appleton and comes up with designs for us. Ultimately, we pick the merchandise. She has multiple books and we order all sizes, colors, and kinds of clothing, from children’s to extra large adult sizes. We sell hats and other things too,” Mrozynski said.
The graphics department designed Percy’s Pro Shop logos. The art teacher suggested the logos go on the floor like footprints, leading up to the Pro Shop.
There is more to Percy’s Pro Shop than meets the eye. The art team makes coffee mugs and the woods class giant Jenga games. Impressive, professional grade items produced by students will be for sale.
“This is the first year for me,” said Tyler Jagiello, another SEM student. “I’m waiting to see what it will be like.”
Abby Dorow and Maddie Schroeder complete the team of managers.
Percy’s Pro Shop opens for business Friday, Nov. 15, for deer hunter’s widow weekend. When the students are not at the shop, Familiar Grounds continues to sell the products for them. The students will be working daily Dec. 3-23.
“Our promotions include free wrapping and family shopping day,” Mroczynski said.
“The public was great to us last year. This should be a hugely successful season,” Sam Porath said.