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Georgia Southern University marketing students participate in international retail competition

Eight marketing students from Georgia Southern University traveled to Toronto recently to participate in the 2008 American Collegiate Retailing Association’s Charrette. Two came home with awards, and they all came home with a top-notch, hands-on retail experience.

‘Our students did not work together as one team,” said Kathleen Gruben, associate professor of marketing and director of the Center for Retail Studies. ‘Each of the eight gained invaluable international experience by working with students from other states, Canada, and Europe.” Gruben and Michael Thomas, assistant professor of management, marketing, and logistics, organized the trip, traveled with the students, and served as judges of the Charrette.

In a charrette, a diverse group of students works together to develop a business solution, and they present their findings to a panel of internal and external community members. A link at http://acraretail.org/charette.html offers video of the 2007 ACRA Charrette.

‘For the students, the Charrette is similar to stepping into a 72-hour episode of ‘The Apprentice,” said Gruben. Georgia Southern participants included Kristen Cole, Erica Frederick, Stephanie Johnson, Travis Gilbert, Jennifer Hammond, Chelsey Smith, Lauren Thornhill, and Leann Walls. Kristen Cole’s team earned first place, and her prize was a Sony Vaio notebook computer. Erica Frederick’s team earned second place, and her prize was a $500 shopping spree.

This year’s students worked with Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Raptors, and the Marlies. In the competition, each team of students was asked to design a 9000-square-foot store that will generate $7 million in sales during its first year of operation. In addition to designing the store, the teams were required to develop an upscale private product line, create a business plan, write a marketing plan, create the merchandising and layout of the store, produce financial statements for up to five years, and present the results to the president of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, chairman of the Canadian Retail Council, and other key MSLE executives.

‘All the teams did an amazing job,” said Gruben. Gruben also recognized the financial support of Wal-Mart, Staffing Solutions, Burns World Travel, SAS, Walgreen’s, Sea Island Bank, the Georgia Retail Association, and BB&T, which made the trip possible.

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