SOUTHINGTON — After the pandemic shut down in-person food sales at Southington High School’s student-run store, the teens took their business online and shifted to apparel sales.
The store is part of Southington’s DECA program, a school-based enterprise designed to give students experience with business and marketing.
Before in-person learning shut down last year, the store’s biggest seller was Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, which were offered along with other snack items. Teresa Brooks, business and marketing teacher and the DECA advisor, said before the pandemic the students would also run the concession stand at the Southington Drive-In.
The high school store had sold limited clothing but with in-person food sales not available, the group decided to expand the apparel offerings, move the sales online and offer contactless purchases.
“They were able to work mostly remotely to develop a website for our school store,” Brooks said. “That’s where their focus really started this year.”
Printing at the school and lunch break deliveries
AJ Colwick, a senior and DECA president, and other club officers talked with school and health leaders about how the group could continue. They settled on online sales, which meant the group needed to be able to process credit card payments online and get products to customers.
“They wanted it to be contactless, so we had people who would deliver during their lunch period,” Colwick said.
You can visit the online store at www.southingtondecastore.square.site.
“This was the first year we had an online store and it’s worked out really, really smoothly,” said Max Hotchkiss, a junior and DECA vice president. “You’re able to pay on the store and afterwards either we can bring you the clothing or you can pick it up at a specified time.”
Sweatshirts and sweat pants with various Southington High School logos have been popular, particularly with more being done from home. Colwick and Hotchkiss said. They’re working on new designs as well as continuing production of old favorites.
Southington High School’s DECA program received gold certification from the national organization this year, a process that included a 49-page report on how the business works. The recognition allows three of DECA’s members to compete at the conference this year, giving presentations on the club’s business.
School Superintendent Tim Connellan said students and advisors with DECA have worked hard and been able to continue the program during the pandemic.
“The DECA program is one of the shining stars at Southington High School. Although we have many excellent programs, DECA is one that consistently stands out in its ability and focus on preparing students to be college and career ready,” Connellan said. “Both the students and the advisors have demonstrated their ability to be flexible and to deal with adverse circumstances, such as the pandemic, that would confront them in the everyday world.”
For Hotchkiss, DECA involvement helped lead him towards a career in marketing. He’s found he enjoys that aspect of the business and plans to major in marketing.
“Before doing DECA, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” he said. “I found out I really enjoyed this type of stuff.”