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The Paw Shop: GBHS gets down to business with student-run store
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Great Bend USD 428 employees and school board members visit The Paw Shop, Thursday at Great Bend High School. Pictured are, from left, Andrea Bauer, public relations; board members Lori Reneau, Deanna Essmiller, Don Williams and Cheryl Rugan, and GBHS Assistant Principal Randy Wetzel. - photo by Susan Thacker

Students at Great Bend High School have a new place to shop, and their fellow classmates are getting first-hand experience in running a business.

The Paw Shop opened this semester, taking over a portion of business teacher Lita Allen’s north hall classroom in GBHS Room 135. The store sells Panther apparel and other items. It is mainly open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday but is also open during some football and basketball games.

Allen’s students from Marketing 1, Business Essentials, Accounting, Entrepreneurship, and Computer Graphics classes do all of the work, including running the cash register, inventory, choosing designs and designing, store layout and management decisions. They also painted a “Paw Shop” mural on one wall and have designed flyers and table tent advertising. They’re on social media and are working on a webpage

 Students work in the store 30 minutes before and after school, helping with the morning startup and afternoon closing, and at sporting events.

“The advanced accounting students had to do inventory last week,” Allen said.

“Anyone can shop here,” Allen said. They recently added a snack counter and they’re looking into other small items students might want to buy, such as phone chargers and pens. 

“It all began with an idea in the Marketing Club and Business Essentials class two years ago,” Allen said. “We decided to write business plans for it in the Entrepreneurship class. The students were really excited about the opportunity, so I took it to the admin and they eventually gave me the go-ahead after looking at the business plan behind the idea.” However, the start-up funds came entirely from student efforts. Last spring students raised around $2,500 with a daddy-daughter dance, Allen said. They plan to offer a similar fundraiser this fall.

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Business teacher Lita Allen shows some of the products for sale in The Paw Shop. - photo by Susan Thacker

Giving back

For now, profits from The Paw Shop are being used to buy more inventory. Eventually, students plan to give back to the school financially. One idea is to have people drop notes about student needs into a bucket and then let the store employees choose who to help.

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A chalkboard easel outside Room 135 at Great Bend High School lets people know The Paw Shop is open for business. - photo by Susan Thacker