Home & Living Show boosts students, local businesses
Floor space was so tight at Wareham DECA's 3rd annual Home & Living Show that the high school's cafeteria couldn't hold everybody. Several vendors had spilled out into the outside hallway. Potential customers found them quickly, lured by the scent of the bake sale.
Most of the companies were recruited by members of DECA, Wareham’s branch of the national Distributive Education Clubs of America. The club is a vocationally-oriented sales and marketing program for high school students, who take several classes in marketing, promotion, sales and financial literacy.
The businesses hailed from several different fields – included in the mix were banks, investment and insurance, construction, jewelry and handmade soap businesses. WCTV was on hand, and local radio station Fun107 set up a booth to broadcast live from the floor.
This fundraiser gives students a chance to experience hands-on event planning and organization, said Wareham DECA advisor Monice Maurice.
“They take all the classes, but they organize the show themselves from the ground up. They need to go out and make contacts," she said. "This is real marketing, selling, promotion and operation management.”
Each student in DECA had a part to play. Several, like the event’s Sales Manager Brian Judge spent many hours in the community. They contacted local businesses to gauge their interest and try and persuade them to attend the show.
“We would email the businesses, follow up with them, explain the benefits of coming to the show, and manage the accounts. We have contracts with each business," Judge said.
The Home & Living Show is one of the biggest fundraisers for the DECA club, which uses the money raised to finance travel to several business competitions around the country. For example, the district competitions this year will cost each student $250 to attend. DECA, using money earned from the Home Show, along with other fundraisers, is subsidizing $75 of the cost for each student, leaving each student with $175 in total costs.
Interestingly, the event has also given the students a way to work off their personal costs. Each student is rewarded with $50 for every new business they bring into the Home and Living Show. Businesses who had previously been contacted and returned for another year earned their student salesperson $25.
A student who managed to bring in three or four business could easily pay the remaining costs for the district competition trip. Maurice said that it isn’t uncommon, either.
“Last year we had students earn enough to pay for their travel to district competitions, regional competitions, and occasionally even championships,” said Maurice.
Last year, the event raised $8,000 for DECA. The goal this year, according to Maurice, is to raise $10,000. The money will help defray the costs of competing at the national championships, held this year in California.
“It’s a great event for everyone. The businesses get recognition and foot traffic, and the students get the chance to meet other people from around the world, and to see parts of the country they don’t know much about.”
As DECA’s business flyer points out, “It’s a win-win situation!”