How To Start a Student-Run School Supply Store

A school supply shop lets students learn real-life skills like financial management, marketing, and workplace etiquette. Though, it might seem like starting a store is a long and tiresome process. Don’t worry. We break everything down into easy steps in this guide on how to start a student-run school supply store!

Determine Who’s in Charge

Most responsibilities fall on students in student-run shops. However, you need at least one adult manager. This person oversees the store, assists students, and pays attention to finances.

Some schools assign teachers from specific classes to oversee operations. For example, a high school accounting teacher or middle school math teacher may manage the shop. Other institutions assign parent volunteers or administration leaders to supervise the school store.

Regardless of the leadership choice, it’s important to choose a reliable adult. Students will have someone to support them and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Be mindful of people’s schedules when choosing an adult manager. Ideally, you want someone who can commit to the store during the entire school year. However, securing a manager each semester is also fine!

Gather Staff Members

As the name suggests, student-run shops require students! So, select a team of dependable students to operate the store. Rotate individuals through different duties so students can build various competencies (i.e., accounting, supply management, and sales).

Take things one step further and make this an enriching opportunity. Let older students apply for jobs and give them interview practice. Require students to bring resumes and ask questions like, “What makes you a good candidate for this role?”

It’s important to note that the size of your school store influences the number of staff members it will need. However, you can create staff groups and give everyone equal turns to run the store. For example, group one works on Mondays and Wednesdays, while group two works on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Guidelines for Student Workers

Instilling workplace etiquette is beneficial to student workers. You can set guidelines to ensure professional behavior and good practices. Here are some rules to set:

  • Keep the store tidy.
  • Never leave the store unattended.
  • Be polite to all customers.
  • Don’t play with the merchandise.
  • Always put money in the cash box.
  • Record all sales.
  • Work in pairs whenever possible.
  • Report all problems to the adult manager.
  • Lock the store after your shift.

Pick a Location

Location is everything, especially when it comes to school stores. Most likely, the store’s target audience is students. So, you need a central location for consistent visibility. Most shops operate near the cafeteria, main office, library, or auditorium. These are places students are most likely to visit throughout the day.

Please note that all schools are different and may not have available space for a shop. Luckily, an alternative to a permanent location is a mobile cart. You can take the school store to the students! Take the cart to football games, pep rallies, concerts, and other school-related events. Remember to pick a secure location to store the cart. You can also store the cashbox in the main office.

Set Store Hours

Unlike typical retail stores, school shops have time limits. After all, students have classes and extracurricular activities to attend. You need store hours that also accommodate staff members and allow the store to operate during high traffic.

Popular times for school stores include lunch times, before and after school, and during events like plays or athletic games.

Determine who’s available at these times and if they need adult supervision. For instance, high school students don’t always need an adult in the shop, but younger kids need a teacher or parent when operating the store.

Choose Your Merchandise

What’s a store without merchandise? The best school stores have a variety of products for students like supplies, gear, and other fun things. You can purchase bulk school supply kits and sell individual items or bundles. Either way, the store can help students prepare for class by offering essential items.

Besides supplies, school stores can sell gear and miscellaneous things—such as hats, shirts, crewnecks, and other popular clothing.

Other popular merchandise includes scented erasers, water bottles, snacks, and keychains. However, it’s important to sell in-demand items. Create a school-wide survey and ask students what they want to see in the store. Introduce new merchandise every semester.


Pricing merchandise is another essential factor of school stores. Generally, the selling price formula is cost price plus profit margin. Although stores need adequate profits to maintain their operation, it’s important to think about the target audience. Therefore, make your products affordable to students! Most stores carry items between 25 cents to 20 dollars, but product quality can determine final pricing.

Set Up a Financial Management System

Tracking profits is critical to all student-run shops. Therefore, you need a financial management system to oversee sales, inventory, and other related things. Have a cash box and receipt book for transactions. The manager and students should track daily sales to align with the inventory. Furthermore, implementing physical and digital accounting systems can help you oversee everything.

Financial management systems are important for school administration and students. Of course, the administration office will ensure the appropriate usage of funds. The system gives students real-world examples of finances and basic business management skills.

Promote the Store

Another cross-curricular activity is school store advertising. After all, how will students, teachers, and parents know about the shop if no one talks about it? Have students write persuasive ads in English class, ask art students to design posters, and bring in drama students to create cool commercials. Student involvement can encourage people to visit the store. But don’t forget about the parents! Place an ad in the school newsletter or on the school’s website to attract attention.

Open the Doors

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to open the doors! As with any business, expect a few issues along the road as you adjust the processes. Regularly meet with the students and staff to talk about the shop and determine what should change. For example, you may change operation hours or merchandise to accommodate your school’s needs.

Show the Impact

The profits of student-run shops go towards the school. Each semester, you can announce the store’s profits and discuss how it helps the institution. Doing so gives the school a sense of pride and community! Who knows, you all may make a huge impact on different initiatives. Imagine supporting a class trip to a museum or raising enough money for band equipment.

The aspects of starting a student-run school supply store include leadership, staff, location, merchandise, and financial management systems. You can run a profitable store and teach students job skills with the right elements.

How To Start a Student-Run School Supply Store