Photo courtesy of Ridgefield School District.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.”
For the students in Andrea Reinertson’s Business Marketing II class at Ridgefield High School in Washington, uncovering a passion for coffee culture is already making a significant difference in their community.
These students’ decisions in high school directly impact a coffee business with a staff of employees and a financial bottom line to manage carefully.
The Birds and the Beans coffee shop opened in 2019 as a partnership between the founder and president of Killa Bites gourmet foods, Laura Jhaveri, and the business and marketing program at Ridgefield School District’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS).
This coffee shop is a local Ridgefield favorite. It features organic, regionally roasted Red Leaf coffee and delicious, locally baked treats and sandwiches sourced from Killa Bites.
Instead of reading about business in a textbook, these high school students can tackle real business challenges. As a result, market planning and analysis have become second nature for many of these enterprising young entrepreneurs.
“They have done an excellent job,” Jhaveri said in a press release from the school district, noting the coffee shop’s steady increase in sales over the last four months. “Their marketing efforts have paid off.
“It is a great real-life incubator for them to be exposed to the impact of marketing,” Jhaveri said. “And I love working with them.”
The high school class creates all the business’ marketing material, from social media posts to signage. The result is a winning collaboration through which the students gain valuable job experience. Additionally, the coffee shop is the beneficiary of unique ideas generated by a group of young minds working collaboratively, ultimately leading to increased foot traffic and sales.
Where is the optimal location to place road signage for advertising? What kind of loyalty and incentive programs will be the most impactful for ensuring that customers keep coming back for more? Which flavor combinations will be the most successful when launching new seasonal options?
These are just some of the questions this group worked to answer during their weekly deep dive. After brainstorming and planning, Reinertson and her students were now fully prepared for their conference call with Jhaveri and Mike Bomar, the director of economic development at the Port of Vancouver, who joined the group as a business mentor.
Reinertson and the CAPS students had worked alongside Jhaveri and Bomar from the very beginning of the coffee shop venture to conceptualize and create the shop from the ground up.
It had been a massive undertaking and a steep learning curve for the CAPS students. But after many hours of work, the grand opening of the shop had been a great success.
Sophomore Dillon Kirksey is proud of the hard work he has done with the coffee shop. He has focused on developing promotions, including flyers, announcements, and special coupons.
“With the experience I got from this class, I’m more interested in pursuing marketing and business as a career,” Kirksey said. “What we do every day feels like a real job.”
Since then, The Birds and the Beans coffee shop has continued to rely on high school students to design, direct, and implement its marketing content and strategies. Reinertson’s Marketing II class is getting hands-on experience conducting strategic planning, marketing concept development, and sales analysis.
Each student plays an integral role in creating and guiding the overall marketing efforts for the shop. They work alone or in small groups to focus on specific projects and then bring all of those elements together to determine how each impacts the business as a whole.
Supporting The Birds and the Beans has an additional benefit: A portion of the coffee shop’s proceeds are donated to the RHS marketing program, allowing them to maintain this innovative partnership.
As the 2021 school year closes, this class is already planning to keep The Birds and the Beans busy in the summer months. The students are beta-testing a curbside pickup service, text alerts, and even a coffee delivery service for teachers. They’re excited to find new ways to help the coffee shop continue to grow.
Class period after class period, RHS students and their business mentors are working hard to make the coffee shop a memorable experience for Ridgefield coffee drinkers and students alike.
Kelly Getzelman is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. A retired Navy SEAL chief petty officer, Getzelman has nearly two decades of special operations experience and is always ready to ship out on his next epic coffee adventure.
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