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School store may be coming to Potsdam High School

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POTSDAM - If one senior has her way, the Potsdam High School will soon have a new school store that will focus on selling coffee and other snacks.

“I’ve been working for the past couple of months to organize a school store in the high school,” Sarah Choong told board of education members at their recent meeting.

“We used to have one, but that’s not the concept I’m looking at,” she said. “What we’re looking at is trying to capitalize on the sale of coffee at the school.”

Principal Joann M. Chambers said the high school used to house a store that sold school supplies and snacks, although their sales wnet downhill and the store eventually closed after they stopped selling candy.

Ms. Choong said the store would be open from 7 a.m. to 10:40 a.m., so not to conflict with the school’s food services department during lunch. She said proceeds from the store would be used to provide scholarships for the store’s student employees and to help provide relief to the district during tough fiscal times.

“I’m looking to generate revenue for the school,” she said. “Right now we’re looking at donating the money back for the food services department.”

According to Ms. Choong’s business plan, the store would offer four different roasts of coffee that would be purchased locally from St. Lawrence Valley Roasters. They would also sell granola bars and fresh fruit, while generating an estimated just over $5,000 a month in profit.

Ms. Choong said her estimated profits are based on the sale of 2,000 cups of coffee per month, with 59 percent of customers purchasing additional flavoring for their coffee. The figure also includes the sale of 731 granola bars per month and 2,380 pieces of fruit, generating a monthly profit of $5,078.25.

“Assuming that the shop is open for business nine months out of 12, the annual projected profit is approximately $45,705.25,” she wrote in her plan.

A 12 ounce cup of coffee with store’s cup would sell for $1.25, with the price dropping to a $1 with a customer’s cup. Other prices would be 16 ounce cup of coffee with school’s cup, $1.50; customer’s cup, $1.25; additional flavoring, 50 cents; granola bars, 75 cents; and fruit, either apples or bananas, 50 cents.

Ms. Choong said the store would employ a student manager, a student deputy manager, a student treasurer and a student marketing manager, 10 staff members and a faculty advisor, whose stipend would be paid from the store’s profits.

“Students will apply for jobs and be interviewed,” she said, adding employees would work during study hall periods, with potential customers being students who are signed out from study halls or in between classes.

To help generate $2,500 needed to start the business, Ms. Choong proposed selling shares in the store for $10 each, with 5 percent interest to be paid back to the shareholder in two years.

While no members of the board of education said they were against the proposal, Frederick C. Stone Jr., did say that Ms. Choong should look into the legality of selling shares with a guaranteed return rate prior to doing so.

Ms. Chambers said she didn’t have a problem with the proposal, which has not yet been presented to the building’s teachers and maintenance staff.

“The reality is coffee is coming into the school now and often making students late,” she said. “They come into school late, but they have their Dunkin Donuts coffee.”

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said what Ms. Choong was looking for was an OK from the board to continue moving forward, with her proposal, which is actually doubling as her senior project.

“What we’re asking for tonight is for the board to support the concept of the idea so they can continue planning and take this to the next step, which is talking to the teachers about their concerns,” he said.

With no one from the board voicing opposition, school board President Christopher C. Cowen Jr. said, “It is certainly an interesting model. We will look forward to seeing what we can do to assist you.”

Should the store be successful, Ms. Choong said they could expand their offerings to include school supplies, other healthy snack foods, and test prep materials.

“I think we have a real opportunity to make money for the school,” she said.

Should the store not succeed, Ms. Choong said they would simply close their doors and the school wouldn’t be out anything.

“If it’s found unsuccessful, and I don’t think it will be, we’ll shut it down,” she said, adding closure would come after selling off the store’s inventory, materials and supplies.

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