Business students from West Suffolk College take part in charity shop challenge

Aliona Cervinskaja and Joe Seaman, at St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WEST SUF

Aliona Cervinskaja and Joe Seaman, at St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COLLEGE - Credit: Archant

A charity shop takeover project which saw business students from West Suffolk College create eye-catching window displays has been hailed as a “great success”.

Students from the Bury St Edmunds-based college worked in six town charity shops as part of the challenge, using skills learned in the classroom to try to increase business.

The students worked with EACH, Suffolk AgeUK, St Nicholas Hospice Care and Barnardo’s in St Johns Street as well as Cancer Research UK on Abbeygate Street and The Salvation Army on the Cornhill.

Aliona Cervinskaja and Joe Seaman were the clear winners over their classmates when it came to increasing footfall and spending at St Nicholas Hospice Care.

Bill Hill, St.Nicholas Hospice Care boutique shop manager, said: “Staff and volunteers were impressed with the level of enthusiasm and professionalism of the two young people from West Suffolk College.

“We gave them the tools and the space to express their retail ideas and creativity, and they developed an attractive and eye-catching Easter shop window display.

“Both were engaged with the day to day structure of life in a boutique charity shop, and were keen to acquire knowledge of the essential art of visual merchandising.

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“Ultimately, we were happy to provide a real life retail environment for the students to progress their understanding.”

Nina Hart, business and retail course director at the college, said: “Overall, the project has been a great success.

“The students really embraced the concept, working together with such professionalism, independently exercising a range of business skills.

“It was a pleasure to see them creating eye-catching window displays to entice custom in competition with their fellow classmates in other shops. Some of the teams also took the initiative to implement promotional activity.

“Poor weather was a factor throughout, with the need to reschedule the project initially due to heavy snow, and a second downfall directly after the actual take over which hampered sales.

“While the timing of the snow was unfortunate, this live project has given the students an insight to a range of challenges faced by retailers.

“Verbal feedback from the charity staff has been extremely positive, so we hope to build on links with these great charities in future projects.”