By Hailey Dixon for the Lincoln Sentinel
The Paw Print, a student-run merchandise business of USD 298, opened a new storefront at the end of June.
The new store is attached to the USD 298 Board Office, which is located at 133 E. Lincoln St. in downtown Lincoln.
“I’m just really excited to see how this is going to turn out,” said Preston Howard, current intern at the USD 298 Board Office. Howard, who will be a junior in August, has been involved with The Paw Print since his freshman year.
The store is going to operate with various hours over the summer. Once school starts in August, the store is open in the afternoons until 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, as well as special occasions, such as home football games, said Nikki Flinn, Lincoln Junior-Senior High School Business Teacher.
“There’ll be two kids there at any giving time,” Flinn said.
The business originally began in 2015, Flinn said. Flinn and Jason Curtis, LJSHS Journalism Teacher, attended a conference, which sparked the initial idea for The Paw Print.
“The goal is that they learn how to run a retail store,” she said.
Flinn said they started writing grants to help fund the business.
“I guess people really liked our idea,” she said.
Flinn said The Paw Print received about $20,000 in grant money.
In 2016, the class created and chose the name for the business.
“I’m excited to see how it’s growing,” Howard said.
In the first year, Flinn said, they sold $20,000 worth of merchandise. The next year, The Paw Print sold $30,000 worth of merchandise.
“It’s been really successful,” she said. “The kids have done a really good job. … It’s been really, really popular.”
The store sells a variety of Leopard apparel and merchandise, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, pants, polos and jackets. Flinn said they are discussing featuring student’s work, such as wood or metal works, in the store in the future.
“We hope to continue to grow the business by expanding into embroidery and getting the equipment to print on sleeves and hats,” Curtis said.
Students participating in The Paw Print, Flinn said, apply for specific jobs and receive a title.
Students then focus on their particular job over the course of the year, Flinn said. All individuals learn each job, Flinn said.
This environment creates teamwork, she said.
“We’ve had kids that have really stepped up,” Flinn said. “We have many students who excel in different parts of the business.”
Leopard students such as Howard and Chance Vath help with The Paw Print.
Howard, Flinn said, created an inventory and painted the shop that The Paw Print will be stationed in.
“He was in our very first year; he’s been in the class for the last two years,” she said. “He’s been really awesome.”
Flinn said Vath is “meticulous” and a “go-to” person when help is needed with the business.
Moving forward, The Paw Print plans to have another grand opening when school starts.
“I believe the community will continue to support our business and it will be great for visitors to see the store,” Curtis said.
In the future, Flinn said The Paw Print may expand and sell Lincoln County merchandise, but it is up to the students to decide what is sold.
“It’s their store,” she said.