Braden River High School store takes off when marketing students assume control.
Braden River High senior Sophia Torlucci remembered watching students in the school’s higher-level marketing classes attempt to sell school supplies for the new school store, Captain’s Cargo, during her sophomore year.
As a student in the beginners-level marketing class at the time, Torlucci said her friends joked that she soon would be joining the students struggling to sell.
Two years later, nobody is making jokes.
Torlucci, 17, serves as the chief steward for Captain’s Cargo. Instead of selling school supplies, she is designing T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, hoodies and other merchandise for marketing students to sell during lunch and at sporting events.
Captain’s Cargo initially started three years ago when business teacher Stefanie Minihan wanted to provide hands-on opportunities for her students.
But she didn’t know what direction to take the store. Students started by selling basic school supplies, such as pens and pencils, in the auditorium during lunches.
After months of not selling many school supplies, Minihan approached the school’s athletic boosters for shirts to sell, which helped the store gain traction.
At the end of the year, Captain’s Cargo sales totaled about $2,550, with school supplies sales only about $50 of the total.
In the 2018-19 school year, Minihan decided to have the store partner with the boosters but with a change in the contract.
“In the past, the parents had designed [merchandise], and the kids weren’t happy with the designs,” Minihan said. “So I said, ‘We’ll sell as long as we can design, and then we want to manage how much we order because you’re ordering too much, and we have all this back sale stuff.”
Students took over designing and selling merchandise at lunch as well as sporting events.
Senior Logan Fairchild, 17, said she “freaked out” the first time she saw her Bitmoji, an expressive cartoon avatar, on a shirt that she designed.
The store was also launched online, so people could submit orders.
This year the store continues to grow by selling athletic passes and athletic booster memberships too. For example, the Student All Sports Pass, which costs $30, includes a single student admission into all regular season home athletic events for the year.
From July 1 to Aug. 21 of this year, the store has seen sales of 12,600 in memberships and merchandise. It has more than doubled sales from the previous year.
All profits from the store go to the school’s athletic boosters, which support all sports.
Minihan said it’s amazing to see how profitable the store has been, but she looks more at students’ growth and creativity as they participate in Captain’s Cargo. About 30 students are helping with the store this year.
“They come to me with so many great ideas that they wouldn’t have been able to think about in any other classes if they didn’t have this class,” she said.
Throughout the class, students are not only learning about marketing and design, but they are also learning leadership, communication, time and money management, collaboration and more.
“I feel very fulfilled because I’m doing something for the kids that I know at least one piece of it they’re going to be able to use when they leave,” Minihan said.
After taking the marketing classes, Fairchild said she no longer wants to be a lawyer but rather wanted to pursue a career in graphic design. The experience she gained in the classes helped her get a summer graphic design internship in Chicago.
Senior Jacob Sowards said he wants to see the community at-large wearing Captain’s Cargo merchandise.
“On Friday nights there’s more than just the students at those football games,” he said. “There’s adults, alumni. And I’d love to see them wear our merchandise coming out as one big Pirate family on Friday.”