Student entrepreneurs will once again learn what it takes to start and run a business while making some cash on the side as the third annual TREP$ Marketplace returns to Cedar Grove.
For the past two years, fifth grade through eighth students in the district have learned different aspects of running a business by creating a business model and then put it into action for a bazaar-style market attended by their peers, parents and teachers.
“We have more students this year than in the past with just over 200 students with 160 booths,” said Cedar Grove Memorial Middle School Principal Richard Mangili. “It has grown so much and become so successful that we are holding it at the high school because we didn't want to turn anyone away.”
The event, which has previously featured tie-dye shirts, jewelry, birdhouses, babysitting services and delectable treats created by middle school students will be held on Sunday March 3, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Cedar Grove High School, 90 Rugby Road.
“Come shop at the TREP$ Marketplace to be amazed by the tables of innovative products and services – all developed, marketed and sold by young entrepreneurs from Memorial Middle School in Cedar Grove,” said TREP$ Co-Chair and parent volunteer Jennifer Warkentin.
“The ideas these kids come up with are amazing,” she added. “They have duct tape items, decorative magnets and charms, chocolate-covered treats, carnival games, confetti eggs and all sorts of homemade crafts, novelty items and baked goods.”
“Some kids are even donating a portion of their profits to Hurricane Sandy, something they decided on their own,” she said.
The TREP$ Marketplace is the culmination of a six-week afterschool program in which teachers volunteered their time teaching students the ins and outs of the business world, including product development, finance, advertising, marketing and salesmanship.
The program is sponsored by volunteers of the Memorial Middle School Family School Association (MMS FSA) and spearheaded by MMS guidance counselor Erica Slota, Science teacher George Czergovitz, fifth grade language arts teacher Erika Junghanz and math teacher Jessica Johnson.
“Every week we taught a new topic to prepare the students for their own business,” said Slota. “They learned entrepreneurship, math skills like, revenue, profit, loss, marketing and advertising.”
“A lot of parents and FSA have been instrumental in organizing and preparing students,” said Mangili. “There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes.”
Even local businessmen pitched in to give students an inside look at running and maintaining a successful business including Cedar Grove Mayor Peter Tanella, Councilman Joseph Chiusolo and Cedar Grove Board of Education President Frank Mandala, Jr.
Local businesses and organizations pitched in for donations and provided feedback to the students on their business models including the MMS FSA, The Cedar Grove Chamber of Commerce, Peluso Orthodontics, Valley National Bank, A&G Welding, Protosport and Esposito's Pizza & Deli.
“They are all good ideas and everyone I talk to is making money,” said Mangili. “Some make $40, some make $400. Either way to me it's a success.”
Students, like other business owners, are allowed to keep all their profits. However, they are encouraged to reimburse their parents for any startup costs and materials in getting their businesses launched.
“These are the skills you want to learn outside the classroom, dealing with people, margins, profits and how to pay back loans,” said Mangili. “It's giving them a small snapshot of what we do as adults at a young age.”
“Kids will remember this stuff,” he added. “Whether they participate all four years or just one year, they will get something out of this and they will remember what they learned.”