Stocked with Cape-branded clothing and accessories, the Cape High school store offers upperclassmen a chance to operate a small apparel business, said teacher Gabriel Martinez.
“They learn elements of marketing and business as freshmen and sophomores, and apply that knowledge as juniors and seniors running the store,” Martinez said. “It takes trust to have students work in the store. They’re handling cash and product; they track sales trends, advertise and market.”
Martinez said the store sold just snacks until three years ago, when it began offering apparel and accessories to meet consumer demand.
Senior Joseph Drumheller has been in the marketing pathway since he was a freshman. Drumheller said he uses word-of-mouth and his own social media pages to promote sales to classmates.
“I work in the store, take inventory, help customers, and fold and display new shipments so everything looks organized and appealing,” Drumheller said.
Martinez said students pick styles and colors, order according to budget and vary product based on customer feedback. Pricing is determined by unit cost and item quality.
Senior Lucy Doak said the store’s surprise best-seller is a pink long-sleeved Cape High T-shirt.
“I love the creative aspect,” she said. “Mr. Martinez takes our ideas and helps us explore options.”
Martinez said students learn through failures as well.
“If a product line fails, they reflect and figure out why,” he said. “It’s a test run with every expansion, boom or bust. It’s a learning experience in action.”
Art students create limited-edition shirts sold in the store, which also carries designs by local companies Logomotive and Fishtail Print Company, recently opened by Cape High grads and brothers Conner and Ethan Ghabra, who also went through Cape’s marketing pathway.
Senior art student Ben Weathersby designed a popular shirt, a skateboarding fire control tower, for a project involving a Delaware landmark doing an activity.
“I’m always at the beach,” he said. “I go to Dewey and Indian River Inlet, and I always pass Tower Road. I made him skateboarding because that’s the first thing that came to mind.”
Working for the school store helps area businesses as well when Cape students work there, Martinez said.
“Students have a firmer grasp of business principles and when to take risks,” he said.
Business owners have suggested curriculum changes to make students more ready for the workforce, Martinez said, and many former students return to speak about their own mistakes and experiences.
“That way, they don’t just see an old man trying to lecture them,” he laughed. “They get to hear experiences from their own peers.”
Open during school lunch periods, 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., the store is open to the community and accepts cash or check. Martinez said a goal is to accept credit cards and launch a website managed by students.