Student store teaches business, customer service skills

Hunter Kagan, who runs the student store at THS, says the position has helped him acquire skills that will be useful throughout his life.

From the Tahoma Matters newsletter

Business is brisk at Tahoma High School’s student store during Power Hour, the time when students eat lunch, meet with teachers, participate in club activities, study, or simply hang out with friends.

The store is adjacent to the grand staircase in the middle of “main street,” the high school’s vast commons area. Customers can order a slice of pizza and a beverage, and check out the latest Tahoma Bears logo merchandise. The store is operated by the school’s DECA marketing club students. At the heart of the operation is junior Hunter Kagan, the store’s manager.

Kagan is constantly on the move during Power Hour, helping at the counter, answering questions from student cashiers and customers, counting cash to reconcile the day’s receipts, and generally having a great time.

“I really enjoy working with Mr. Devlin and my fellow students,” Kagan said, referring to DECA advisor John Devlin. “I enjoy working in the store, I like to be able to learn and teach people about how a store runs and works. I am a person who likes to sell things; it has always just come natural to me so I just have stuck with it.”

Devlin is in his first year at Tahoma High School, taking over after former marketing teacher Mike Jackson moved to Kent-Meridian High School. Starting the year with an experienced store manager was a gift, Devlin said.

“Hunter has been a blessing for me as a first-year teacher at Tahoma High School,” he said. “Hunter connected with me during the summer to discuss the store and how they did things last year. He has stepped up and volunteered to run the store this year as CEO and has helped with putting a new accountability system in place for cash.”

The marketing program and DECA reflect Tahoma School District’s Future Ready initiative, helping students acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to prepare for post-high school education and careers.

Kagan already has a plan in mind after he graduates in 2020.

“I plan on going to Green River (College) after high school for two years to get my AA in business, then to transfer to WSU and get my bachelor’s in sales management,” he said. “I plan on getting a job in the retail world during all this so I can get as much experience as possible, so I can eventually own a business.”

Devlin said Kagan’s experience running the store and participating in DECA fit well with his future plans.

“Running the store is helping him understand what it will take to run a successful business,” he said. “Skills like customer service, ordering, cash flow statements and hiring. He has a mind for business and understands customers are the key to making or breaking a business.”

Tahoma’s DECA program is part of a national association of marketing students, which offers leadership, business and marketing skill development as well as competitive events at regional, state, and national levels. November is DECA Month, and Tahoma’s club was honored on Nov. 13 with a special proclamation by the Maple Valley City Council.

Devlin said there are more than 70 students involved in DECA at Tahoma High School. The club is open to anyone who has an interest in business or marketing.

“DECA gives high school students practical business experience,” he said. “Students learn the basic concepts in the marketing class and DECA, through competition, gives the kids an opportunity to present to business professionals what they have learned by doing a 10-page or 20-page manual or compete in a role-play event. Marketing students work on presentation and communication skills. “

Kagan said he thinks his DECA experience not only will look good on his resume, but has also helped him acquire skills that can be useful throughout his life.

“DECA is teaching me all aspects of a business and how to handle them,” he said. “It has taught me how to be more professional and a more effective speaker. I get to compete against other very talented students from all over the state.”