EDMONTON — Annika Reed spends about an hour a day working at MC Shirt Shop, a student-run business that is part of the Metcalfe County School System’s Hornet Enterprises.
The Metcalfe County High School junior is one of several students involved with the relatively new business.
“I just thought it was a really cool thing to be able to be in here doing something that’s going to impact the entire community,” she said while explaining why she wanted to be involved with the business.
The idea for the school system to open a shirt shop came from Josh Hurt, director of instruction, who was at Main Street Apparel in Edmonton when the owners of the business asked if he thought the school system would be interested in buying it because they knew the school system liked to offer all kinds of opportunities for its students.
Hurt met with Benny Lile, superintendent; Clint Graham, MCHS principal; and Geneva Scroggy, work ready coordinator, to talk about the possibility of the school system purchasing the business. All three agreed adding the shirt shop to Hornet Enterprises would provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in managing a shirt shop.
“It was kind of like what we did with the cafe´, trying to bring the county a donut when you don’t have a donut,” Lile said.
The school system opened The Donut Shop in March 2017. It is also a student-run business that is part of Hornet Enterprises. The Hornet News Network is also loosely affiliated with Hornet Enterprises, Lile said.
If the owners of the shirt shop closed it permanently without the school system buying it, the county would not have a fully committed apparel shop.
“We didn’t want to leave the county without a place to go to do these types of things, and if we could get our kids involved and not just the production of it but the marketing and business end,” Lile said.
He continued that Graham had been wanting to rejuvenate the school system’s business program for quite some time, so purchasing the business seemed like a great fit.
The school system needed someone to be in charge of the shirt shop who could also work with the students when they were there. The position was advertised and Tammy Sexton Tarter was hired.
Her primary role is to get the business up and running and to teach the students the various roles in the business, such as taking orders by phone, manning the front desk, learning how to heat press shirts and learning how to do screen printing, among other tasks.
Originally, the goal was to have the shirt shop opened by the end of January, but when the MCHS boys’ basketball team won the All “A” Classic regional tournament a decision was made to open the shop a little earlier.
“We knew we had to get into gear to make some shirts for that,” Tarter said.
About 300 shirts were made for the regional tournament, but because the shirt shop was so new and students hadn’t really had much time to learn what they needed to know to produce that many shirts the order was outsourced, Tarter said.
MCHS students still helped by organizing sizes, separating individual orders, folding shirts and getting them ready for customers to pick-up, she said.
“I’ve always heard it said before but I don’t know that it’s true that McDonalds puts up the sign before they build the buildings. We didn’t even get the building built,” Lile said. “We started flipping hamburgers before we had a building or a sign. But it was for a great reason that we had to.”
By working in the shirt shop, students learn how to run their own business.
“They are going to learn the ends and outs of it. They are going to learn what it takes behind the scenes. They are going to learn how to manage. They are going to learn how to do any part of a business. They are basically going to be involved in every thing,” Tarter said.
Many of the students are artists and enjoy drawing designs for the shirts, she said.
Tarter added that she loves the work ethic that is being instilled in students.
“It really lights up. I know it seems early in this. Some of them just learned to how to press their shirt. They get their design together they want to put on it and when it’s pressed and they pull their shirt out and their eyes light up, it lights me up for them,” she said.
Tarter continued that students are still being trained on how to run the shirt shop, but said it is a great opportunity for them.
“I’m just tickled about that for them,” she said.
Scroggy hopes that the shirt shop will lead to the school system having a business program.
“We are real excited about the opportunity for the kids to get some real work experience,” she said.
The shirt shop is located adjacent to the school system’s central office along West Stockton Street and it is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.