The West Salem, retail management class, is bringing some much needed holiday cheer to the school store for the first time this month.
Students have covered the ceiling with snowflakes, painted holiday greetings onto the windows and strung up Christmas lights around the shop.
According to student teacher, Maggie Heck, the makeover was about bringing attention to the school store, which sells among other things, Panther merchandise like t-shirts, caps and hoodies.
Heck, a student from UW-Stout, joined business and marketing teacher Jason Holter this year and brought with a few ideas for how to run the school store. Decorating for the holidays was just one of them. While bringing some holiday spirit into the mix was Heck’s idea, the decorations themselves were decided by the class.
“They pitched different window painting ideas,” Heck said. “One team did social media posts for the holidays; another decorated for the holidays.”
“There has been a lot of traffic in there because there are Christmas lights and Christmas music,” Heck added. “The students have set a goal to be 5 percent higher in sales than they were last year.”
Holter said getting customers is important because the class is about giving students real-world job experience in a school setting.
West Salem began offering the course last year, to teach students who weren’t in DECA about merchandising, marketing, customer service and, of course, how to run a cash register.
Holter said the store was run entirely by DECA club members, until last year when it was opened up to all students.
“This is a chance to give students a chance to work in a school setting,” he said.
For store manager, senior Sierra Schwier, the experience of working in the school store was her first job.
“I think it was great,” Schwier said.
Schwier started a freshman after joining the DECA club. Her experience working in the school store eventually earned her a position working part-time at Festival foods.
“I’ve actually worked in the school store all four years of high school,” she said. “I wanted to continue with that.”
Now, as a senior, Schwier, is using her experience working in the school store and at Festival to help her classmates become better salespeople.
Teaching how to provide good customer service has been one of the biggest lessons yet.
“We have been working to streamline the customer service expectations for the student workers,” Heck said. “That has been a big priority for us this semester.”
Schwier said a little holiday spirit has already paid dividends.
The Panther Plaza opens weekdays at 3:15 p.m. and is open during many sporting events.