VALPARAISO | 18 on Franklin is officially open for business.
The store inside the Porter County Career and Technical Center at 1005 N. Franklin St. derives its name from the 18 students in the sports/entertainment marketing class who will be running it.
A grand opening Tuesday evening was touted as a ribbon-cutting ceremony with speeches by the class president, treasurer, and Career Center Principal John Groth.
Stephen Thorne, a junior at Valparaiso High, and a member of the center's marketing class, said students have been working for about a month to develop a plan for the store, which is a long-time fixture at the center.
“Every year, the students choose a new name for the store and the products to sell,” said Thorne, who is serving as the marketing manager.
This year, the store will sell food items such as popcorn, pretzels, cookies, hot pockets, nachos, fruit snacks and soft drinks. It will be open weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m.
While students at the career center will be the primary customers, the general public is welcome to make purchases there as well, Thorne said.
Each of the 18 students in the marketing class taught by Judy Commers will get experience in the various roles involved in running a business.
Students will rotate jobs, serving as store managers, accountants, inventory managers, administrative assistants, salespersons, cashiers, food service workers and security managers.
The store will be staffed at all times by three students, who will work in 15- to 30-minute shifts.
Thorne said students in the marketing class decided what products to sell based on surveys they distributed to the student body.
“They should have a say in what they're going to be able to purchase,” he said.
The store will open for business with $2,000 in startup money, which was carried over from last year's store, Thorne said.
While some stores have carried over as much as $8,000 to $10,000 in previous years, the goal for this year's store is a modest $5,000.
For Thorne, who hopes to pursue a career in economics, the project makes for great real-world experience.
“It's a lot of responsibility, and there's a lot of teamwork involved,” he said. “But we're all very close, and we work well together.”