Students learn business skills
Percy’s Pro Shop opens in New London
By Scott Bellile
Percy’s Pro Shop is once again meeting a public demand for Bulldogs merchandise while teaching New London teens the essentials of business and marketing.
The limited-time, student-run shop inside Familiar Grounds Coffee Shop is selling New London Bulldogs clothing, gifts and accessories for its third holiday season.
While the 25 workers are unpaid, they said they learn valuable lessons early in life about merchandise, consumers’ interests, target audiences and product promotion.
Senior Abby Elsholtz, one of five managers, runs the store and interviews job candidates. She said she ultimately wants to be a nurse, but working sales is helpful.
“It’s good to get this experience, just for the [inter]personal skills and just in case I ever do change my mind,” Elsholtz said.
She and another manager, junior Leah Porath, said their work has already taught them some useful lessons: circular clothing racks save space and make viewing easier for customers. “New London High School” lanyards sell poorly because shoppers affiliated with the elementary and middle schools don’t want them. And a youth coloring contest works well because parents come see the shop when they pick up the prize.
“It’s fun being behind the scenes and … seeing how it all comes together,” Porath said.
English teacher Callie Cochran-Hager said it’s great to see students outside the “school arena” interacting with the community. She said Familiar Grounds takes a risk by welcoming a student-run store, but Percy’s Pro Shop keeps getting better.
“These kids shine in a different way when they’re out in the public,” Cochran-Hager said. “They believe in their product, they have ownership in the store and they’re invested.”
Percy’s Pro Shop is open through Dec. 24 at Familiar Grounds Coffee Shop. Its official hours are weekdays from 4-7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5p.m. During off-hours items may be paid for at the Familiar Grounds checkout.
“We do put a lot of work into this, and it’s nice when it pays off,” Elsholtz said.