Tips for Managing a School Store

Photo courtesy of @glendalenest on Twitter.

Operating a school store is a great way for a DECA chapter to make money while learning everyday business principles, but is your school store maximizing its potential?

Are you utilizing your space efficiently? Are you maximizing your revenue?

Answering these questions will allow you to create the ultimate atmosphere for selling spirit wear products.

1. Maximize your space.

It is sometimes imperative that every square inch of a school store’s space be utilized in order to offer a complete product line. One of the best ways to maximize a school store’s space is to purchase the right displays to organize products. Apparel, for instance, should either be sold on a rack or on a multi-tier shelf to separate products by size, color, and design. Quality fixtures and displays will keep the products looking great, make it easier to take inventory, and reduce shrinkage.

2. Managing your inventory.

Managing inventory is an important part of running a school store. By practicing proper inventory management, students can easily know how much stock the store has, when to reorder and eliminate shrinkage. A school store should take visual inventory counts daily to determine what needs to be reordered. Every two to four weeks, school stores should also take an actual physical inventory count of all products. Schools who utilize a Point of Sale (POS) system may have the ability to quickly compare the amount of product sold to how many are still in stock. One common reason for shrinkage is that products deemed unsellable are not properly recorded before being discarded or returned to the manufacturer. All product movements must be recorded to be sure that your store’s inventory records are accurate.

3. Promoting sales.

School stores should always be offering some type of sales promotion. Customers make many subconscious purchasing decisions based on what they perceive as a good value. If a customer is told they can purchase a product for 20% less if they buy today, they are more likely to purchase now rather than later, but it is important not to go overboard with such offers.

For example, if everything in the store is “on sale,” then your customers will have little incentive to buy now. Rather, it is best to offer 10% to 20% of your available products at some sort of discount at any given time. Also, a discount does not necessarily have to reflect an original price that has been reduced. For example, you may buy t-shirts for $10, and usually sell them for $15. Instead, you could offer the product immediately at a 20% discount, but for $15.

Remember that your customers do not know how much you pay for the products your chapter resells, and they often use the price to help determine a product’s quality. The higher the price, the higher the perceived value for the customers, especially if it the product is on sale. Customers then assume the product has more value than its current price.

4. Bundle your products.

Another way to entice a customer to make a purchase is to bundle multiple products together and sell them for a lower price than the total retail value of the bundle. Bundling can be performed with the same, complementary, or even substitute products. For example, one common bundling option is to sell one t-shirt for $15, or two for $20. Another popular bundling technique is including a “free” product with a purchase, such as giving away a keychain with each t-shirt purchase. Bundling is a great way to increase the value of a sale, and can also help to sell excess inventory at the same time.

There are many ways to entice customers to make a purchase. The best way to determine what will work best for your school store is to start testing different techniques. Running a school-based business takes work, but it can lead to many valuable rewards for your chapter. Make sure that you are doing everything you can to run a profitable and efficient school store.

For more ideas about how you can maximize your school store’s potential, or how Print Fundraising can help you get started insourcing your apparel printing operation, please e-mail me at

Categories: Chapter Development, Chapter Resources, Comprehensive Learning Program, School-based Enterprises