Arlington Students Find Marketing Success at Kiosk


(Saturday, May 12, 2007 5:59 AM EDT)

Entrepreneurial high school students in Arlington can skip the lemonade stand, and go straight to selling products in a mall.

How? Through Classroom on the Mall, a hands-on course offered by the Arlington Career Center.

The class is held at Ballston Common Mall, and students learn about retailing and small-business entrepreneurship. Their main project for the year is to open a kiosk for business in the Ballston food court.

“This is the beginning of a career pathway for the students, and it's something they can go on to study in college,” said Classroom on the Mall instructor Michelle Wolpe. “I teach them basic economics, loss prevention, marketing, and we do market research.”

The students determine what product to sell based on surveys they conduct with mall customers at the beginning of the school year. This year, flowers were the winner.

The 12 students sold stock to generate enough capital to start the business, and partnered with Flowers by Rani, a florist in the mall, to sell live flowers and Mother's Day baskets from May 8-12.

The business name they chose was Blooms and Blossoms.

Students assumed different business roles and learned the responsibilities and challenges of the field.

“The most difficult parts are figuring what to buy and working with everyone, making sure they know what to do and making sure it gets done,” said Blooms and Blossoms purchasing agent, Patricia David.

“It's complicated,” said marketing director Olga Mejia. “It takes a lot of time.”

Part of their kiosk business proceeds will be donated to Northern Virginia Hospice, and the rest will go towards next year's kiosk.

“I'm a stockholder, and expect a return. You're truly entrepreneurs,” said Career Center principal Jerry Caputo at the kiosk opening. “I'm very proud of you and I can't wait until my mom gets her bouquet.”

Classroom on the Mall instructor Michelle Wolpe, Arlington Career Center principal Jerry Caputo and students opened the Blooms and Blossoms kiosk last week at Ballston Common Mall.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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