Businesses both large and small have had to pivot to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of DECA's school-based enterprises have had to make adjustments to their business practices, channels and models. These SBEs have used creativity to adapt to the current environment to better function or remain partially open.
Crystal Shanahan | Olentangy Orange DECA, OH
Fort Orange is offering table delivery to customers during their lunch periods. Students place orders on the SBE website, scanning QR codes in the cafeteria to access the site. Instead of a delivery address, students enter their table number, then SBE staff fill and deliver the orders.
Lauren O'Connor | Paul Duke Stem DECA, GA
After reviewing the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's recommendations for reopening small businesses, the chapter decided to no longer allow customers inside The Corner Store. The SBE staff was concerned about sanitizing and providing a clean and safe environment. Instead, they collaborated with the engineering program to design and build a temporary pass-thru window, allowing staff to sell and serve. The pass-through window is made of acrylic trimmed in dry-erase whiteboard. They are also beginning conversations about app development for students to pre-order snacks.
Jordan Whittecar | Jenison DECA, MI
Jenison DECA has adapted both their retail store (The Cat's Corner) and coffee shop (The Green Bean). They had to limit hours in their retail store, but added an online store through Square. Earlier in the year, they held an outdoor tent sale with a $5 and $10 rack and offered 15% off everything else to reduce inventory from the previous year. A popular new product has been a reversible mask.
The coffee shop has seen the most significant changes because students cannot visit it during the school day. Thinking outside the box, they created an online ordering system and offer pick up in the Cat's Corner or "shipping" to a student's classroom. QR codes are used around the school and posted in classrooms that link to the ordering site. Gift cards can be bought ahead of time for students without credit/debit cards. They also offer delivery to teachers at the junior high school across the parking lot.
Sherry Siler | Alma DECA, AR
Alma DECA's SBE, Aire-looms, is a retail and small gift operation. The staff has been organizing pop-up shops that contain spirit apparel and items related to the week's big game. The SBE is adding an e-commerce option which should be up and running in the next month. Additionally, the SBE staff are promoting and offering special order shirts for different groups like the senior class to continue sales.
Ava Carroll | North Forsyth DECA, GA
The Raider Station has implemented several changes to improve the store and boost profits during COVID-19. Masks are required in the store and extra safety and cleaning procedures are conducted after each lunch period. The SBE has placed new protocol signage throughout the store to follow CDC guidelines. The signage includes new sneeze guards at each register and social distancing stickers on the floor to assist customers with spacing. The store has also limited customers to four at a time. This change has been significant in helping students social distance but has required them to set aside a staff person to station at the door to allow people in and out. To increase sales, they have updated their website with clothing and gifts and have introduced a curbside pickup for online orders.
Katheryne Hinze | Conroe DECA, TX
Conroe DECA members have adapted by focusing more efforts on their website. The Paw Print also went cashless and worked with their district to allow members to pay online. By focusing on distribution and increasing marketing, they are pushing pre-orders on their website. They are now open in-person but in a different location this year to meet local regulations.
Sonja Weiler | Elk River DECA, MN
They were able to purchase (in the works before COVID restrictions) an enclosed trailer converted into a mobile store, the SWAGON. This has allowed them to go where the people are since no outside visitors are allowed into the school, they can still sell to the school community. With the new SWAGON they can set up outside the football stadium for games and in the parking lot to catch the before and after school traffic. They plan to bring the SWAGON to the local farmers market and community events, pull it through parades and continue to set up at sporting events since they are located in Minnesota, the opportunities to use the SWAGON are seasonal.
In the past, they have had a pop-up shop at a local salon during the Holidays (Nov-Dec). This fall, anticipating the school building restrictions, they rented the space from Sept-Jan and are open to the public at an off-site remote location. This allows them to continue their curriculum and be accessible to the community.
For virtual SBE ideas, read this article.
As DECA’s leadership specialist, Debbie implements a comprehensive student leadership program for both the high school and college divisions. She is responsible for the Emerging Leader Series, executive officer teams and elections, and student recognition programs like the Collegiate DECA Leadership Passport Program and DECA Emerging Leader Honor Award. Debbie has worked for DECA since 2019.