By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
Some students at Great Bend High School are getting real-world experience in the business and marketing world. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Panther basketball teams will host Liberal. That's also Pink Out night at the gymnasium. Business Marketing Teacher Karen Moeder said the shirts her classes made for Pink Out Night are just a small selection of the items in the Paw Shop located in the commons area at GBHS.
"If anybody needs Great Bend Panther apparel and they want to tell us how to make a shirt, we can design it and create it," she said. "We do individual things like that for people, especially if we have the shirts. If it's a red, black, or white shirt, we'll probably be able to help them."
Moeder is in her second year teaching the business classes as part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathway. There are approximately 80 students in her business and marketing classes, but only about two dozen students help create the apparel. The class made shirts for student ambassadors at the start of the year and is now working on After Prom Committee shirts. Moeder said there is pride when the kids see their products going down the halls or at games.
"We would recognize our student ambassadors who are walking through the halls because of the shirts the Paw Shop kids made," she said. "It is very cool. And the teachers like it. If a club has a shirt they want made for their club, we can do it very efficiently. We don't charge a lot of money."
Charging for the shirts is all part of the learning process that begins with coming up with a design. A hit TV show was worked into the theme for Pink Out Night.
"We just do our research," Moeder said. "We even go on Pinterest a little bit and see what's popular right now. The 'Friends' theme seems to be very popular."
The design is put together using various software, then transferred to a Cricut, a machine that cuts various materials to a specific design. The designs are then applied to shirts using a heat press. The students are hands-on with every step from start to finish, including packaging and delivering the shirts.
This year, the classes sold 35 Pink Out shirts. The number was higher last year but the students learned it can be costly to print shirts before they are paid for.
"We did it differently last year and we didn't sell them in advance and we got stuck with several extra shirts," said Moeder. "We're trying to be more efficient this year."
Then there is pricing: charge too little and no money comes back into the Paw Shop. Charge too much and shoppers may choose not to buy. The design of the shirt can also impact sales and popularity.
"We don't put the date on any of our shirts because then you date your shirts," Moeder said. "Some kids don't feel like they can wear a 2024 shirt in 2025. Just things like that you learn from trial and error."
Moeder said the goal of Paw Shop is not to take sales away from area businesses, but the classes do give her students real-life marketing and sales experience. Because the students only work during class time, a small order of 50-60 shirts could take two or three weeks to complete. Larger orders are usually out of the question.
While Pink Out shirts were sold only to GBHS students, the Paw Shop is open to the public during halftimes of the Panther varsity basketball games. The students gain retail experience selling the many shirts and other apparel in the store.
Anyone wanting a custom order from the Paw Shop can email Moeder at [email protected], or leave a message with the GBHS office at (620) 793-1521.