When the East Student Store released their new Classic Lancer Hoodie and Crewneck on Nov 12, the items were hung up on racks in the store – but also posted on their updated website. In their most recent attempt to revamp the SME Student Store, the student-run store launched their new website, eaststudentstore.com, in early November.
The website received a complete transformation from the website created by last year’s seniors including a new domain name, easier site navigation and products updated every week.
The site facelift comes just in time for holiday orders and was designed entirely by Student Store staff member senior Bradley Chapin. Chapin, who has had experience redesigning websites for Kansas City Auctioneers, found the old site “tired” and felt it wasn’t attracting the attention it needed.
“In the past years, we have had a [website] and people have had a hard time finding it, and I don’t think we had as many social media avenues that were available to let people know about this,” marketing teacher Mercedes Rasmussen said. “I think it is more attractive to look at and they have done a really good job of posting new items that are for sale.”
Even with the new website, the Student Store still attracts most of its clients through the store located in the cafeteria. Rasmussen attributes this to the fact that the district does not allow online credit card transactions. Instead, parents and students have to call or email their orders from the website into Rasmussen or Chapin. They then have the option to pay and pick up the item either the office, Student Store or Rasmussen’s classroom.
“[To get the site out to our audience] we made flyers to send home to middle school parents and East parents that have links, so they can order from the new website and buy holiday presents for their kids,” senior and store manager Martha Sniezek said.
In addition to the site redesign, the Student Store staff has also made improvements to the store’s range of products, adding custom print stickers and wooly thread sweatshirts to their store normally filled with T-shirts, increased their social media presence and overall profit made. This year’s seniors pride themselves in being the “first group to not be in debt the entire year,” according to Sniezek.
“We made more money in a week than any other [group of seniors] had made in an entire year,” senior Joseph Brouillette said of the sales after the “Beat Rock” shirts were released.
Senior John Roney believes they are making more of a profit this year because every design and product has preferences of the entire school in mind.
“We want the thoughts of East students in our products,” Roney said. “We talk to people about how our drawings look and if they would wear it. We also base our products off of what is popular at the time and try to create something out of that.”
This year, every product they produce is widely publicized all over the store’s Instagram, their main form of student outreach. They use their social media to alert students of item restocks, new arrivals and fresh designs. @sme.studentstore plasters pictures of their products modeled on students and share special deals they are offering at the time.
Through the popular designs and increased use of social media, the “cougar hunt” shirts made before the SME vs. SMNW football game sold out throughout the week during lunch, and over 600 “beat rock” shirts were sold in the days leading up to the hyped SME vs. Rockhurst football game, leaving the store with “thousands of dollars in profit” according to Rasmussen.
“Our store goal is to have two or more products that sell like the “Beat Rock” shirts, that people will be frantic about and coming up to us and asking ‘did you guys get more of those yet?’” Roney said.
The student store staffers are already brainstorming the East vs. Rockhurst basketball game shirts at their weekly Monday meetings, coming up with designs they hope will sell out faster than the “Beat Rock” shirts.
The next step they are taking to reach their goal is to make sure all price ranges are represented in their store. The seniors scheduled a meeting with Columbia Sportswear’s Midwest distributor and worked out a deal in which the vice president of sales agreed to embroider jackets, polos, shirts and other products with lancer logos and designs for “little to no cost,” according to Brouillette. They’ve already brought the price variation to the store with the introduction of the Lancer name-brand Wooly Thread sweatshirts, which cost $50.
“We will have our $10 T-shirts, but we also want to be able to hit all the different target markets,” Rasmussen said. “So we are working with Columbia to bring in some really nice quarter zips and jackets.”
This year’s store staff have not only brought a new website and products to the East community, they have also created a refreshing attitude and commitment towards the store that Rasmussen hasn’t seen before. Brouillette thinks the group clicks because they had all known each other before they had to spend every fifth hour in the marketing classroom brainstorming ideas or in the cafeteria shop trying to attract the hungry students to their shirts and sweatpants.
But Rasmussen knows their success stems from much more than their connection. She’s watched every senior contribute ideas during product brainstorms, even if they are not part of the design team. No design or suggestion is shot down immediately. They treat the store as a real business, not just an elective.
“This group works really well together, they are really creative and innovative and they are the type of students who kind of feel of the pulse of East and know what the kids really want,” Rasmussen said. “This is the best group of seniors I’ve had.”