PERU - The school store at Peru High School now has a little more elbow room.
The store, known as "The Lodge," recently reopened in a new and expanded location just footsteps away from its former home, giving the student Entrepreneurs Club the ability to increase what the store has to offer.
"We've been trying to get a bigger location for some time and this year, with some changes being made at the school, we were able to get a bigger spot," said Business Education teacher Mike Zerrahn, who serves as faculty advisor over the store.
The store was moved to the former in-school suspension room over the summer and fall months, said Zerrahn, relocating it from a room that was "not much bigger than a broom closet."
"We had a Dutch door on it, so, at one time, you just waited on students through the door," Zerrahn said of the store's former location. "Then, a few years back, we changed it to make it more of a walk-in store, but it was still just so small."
The new space is four times the size of the old one, which Zerrahn feels will have a direct impact on how successful the store can be and how much the students who run the store can learn.
"Now, instead of just snacks and a couple T-shirts, we have room to sell things like review books, rather than kids having to run out to get one to study for their Social Studies test or their Earth Science test, for example," he said. "It makes it a little more convenient for the students. And, it gives the kids running the store a little bit more experience selling different things."
Through the store, Zerrahn's students, who make up the Entrepreneurs Club, are able to extract what they learn in class and apply it to a working business model.
"It ties in with what they learn in class," said Zerrahn. "They're in charge of ordering inventory, finances and day-to-day operations like promoting the store and running specials. It gives the kids a lot more hands-on experience by putting the lessons we're talking about to practical use."
Junior Taylor Rock is volunteering in the store for her first time this year, and said she values the experience.
"This is my first real look into the business world. I haven't had a job," said Rock. "It's a good experience, working with money, working with a register and watching over the store ... making sure everything runs smoothly."
The expanded location is also something she believes will help with increasing customer traffic.
"There's room for a lot more inventory, so I think we're going to have more sales compared to last year," Rock predicted.
Senior Ryan Kenny, also a first-time volunteer at the store this year, said he plans to pursue accounting in college and the experience he's getting from working at the store will be invaluable.
"It'll definitely help me in my career," said Kenny.
"Whether you're applying to college or to work, it's a great r sum filler," he said. "You're doing something above and beyond what a lot of other kids are doing. You're running a business."