Class instructor Hai Ying Zhang displays some of the merchandise that will be on sale at the Craig School of Business Student Store. Opening in January, it will be treated as a yearlong course for the students running it. Photo by Donald Promnitz.

published on December 21, 2018 - 11:26 AM
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Students at the Craig School of Business at Fresno State will soon have an opportunity to get on-the-job training on the ins and outs of retail thanks to a partnership, a generous donation and a little kiosk.

Set to open on Jan. 22, 2019, the Craig School of Business Student Store will be selling products and merchandise bearing the name of the business school, with prices ranging from $16.99 to $34.99. According to Cara Peracchi Douglas, Craig School’s director of development, this includes shirts, sweaters, hats, key chains and the whole “gamut” of “swag.” She also said this will be the first store of its kind in the California State University system. An online version of the store will also go operational.

The idea for the store came over a year ago when Peracchi Douglas proposed a student-run store to then-dean (and current provost) Robert Harper, who then tasked her with putting a plan together. After doing some research, Peracchi Douglas decided to model it after stores at Harvard University and Stanford University.

After receiving the green light from facilities, they began to work with Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) to use their transactional services and establish a partnership. To get the project off the ground, they also received a donation of $60,000 from local market research technology firm FocusVision.

The students will be running the store out of a kiosk in the Craig School building as part of a class. According to instructor, Hai Ying Zhang, the course is two semesters long, and will be worth four credits in total. Their work will cover all aspects involved in running a retail business.

“Among the ten students, we have marketing majors, finance majors, fashion merchandising options, and management,” Zhang said. “So they have responsibilities each week to make the store work.”

One student in the Craig School of Business Student Store is Elizabeth Pena, the leader of the product development team. According to her, they had hopes of opening in October, but getting their resale license took longer than expected. Despite this, however, the team remained undeterred.

“I know it was a little disappointing for all of us because we did have a goal to open up this year, but now we had that problem come up,” Pena said. “We had to think about it as not a problem anymore – just more of an opportunity to kind of take our time and perfect everything a little bit more before we actually do open up, so that we don’t have the same problems later.”

And despite the narrow current focus, Peracchi Douglas believes there’s massive potential in the customer base, adding that there are about 3,500 students in the school right now and 1,000 students are graduated every fall. Meanwhile, they’re already looking at putting the names of other schools at Fresno State on their merchandise.

“We’ve already been approached by several of our other colleges that want to collaborate with us and to have some of their ‘swag’… included in whether or not we can sell that for them, or develop that for them, or collaborate with them,” Peracchi Douglas said. “And the answer is ‘yes,’ we can do that, and we hope to do that.”

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