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A few weeks ago, our Development team helped out in Young AmeriTowne. It was a wonderful experience for them to learn the ins and outs of how everything runs and works. Here is the perspective of Betsy Sklar, Vice President of Development.
My day in Towne
I was ready for the day. I had been trained and had my coffee. I told the AmeriTowne staff I wanted to volunteer in one of the busier shops. They assigned me to the Containers Shop which assembles and sells cardboard briefcases to the towne’s citizens for them to use to transport their many purchases home after their busy work day. The shop was staffed by a manager, an accountant and four assemblers.
Each shop plays an important role in the Young AmeriTowne economy and most have two sources of revenue: providing a service and selling products which are fun premiums. In this case, the Containers Shop makes money from the gift assembly fee paid by each of the other Towne’s shop and from the sale of inflatable hammers and briefcases which are individually purchased by the Towne’s citizens.
My role was to serve as business consultant to the Container Shop staff and to guide them in maximizing profit, meeting the push and pull of supply and demand, and managing the shop’s operational efficiencies. The shop was supervised by a very capable manager who oversaw the shop’s employees work schedule and sales operations. Given the fast pace nature of the AmeriTowne economy, the manager had no choice but jump in and become hands on team member. The accountant undoubtedly has the most challenging job in each shop as he/she is charged with paying all the shop’s expenses including paychecks along with making deposits from the business’ sales. Our accountant had to be highly efficient and very well organized, and had to know how to separate business from personal expenses, a tricky task for many. Our accountant was a true professional who “got it” right from the start.
Our team of four assemblers started the morning off strong by building 12 cardboard briefcases which had to be ready for sale within 15 minutes of arriving in the shop. Learning from experience, they repeated this feat in the afternoon. The assembly team was up to the task as they knew their production directly affected the shop’s bottom line. In their “spare” time, the assemblers build and decorate a hand crafted pencil box as “thank you” gifts for teachers.
The Container Shop is an integral part of AmeriTowne’s real time point of sale (POS) system. Citizens place briefcase orders at one of the Towne’s kiosks through a debit card transaction. The AmeriTowne economy is designed to facilitate all types of purchases – cash, check and debit card. The Container shop is one of the handful of shops that takes debit cards. Back in the shop, the POS system notifies the staff of an order which they fulfill by checking inventory, moving inventory from available to sold, then remitting an online notification to the parcel service that an order is ready for pick up. It was amazing to see the process completed entirely online without any hiccups. The towne citizens also visit the shop during their morning and afternoon breaks to purchase premiums. The most popular were the inflatable hammers. The staff had to be mindful not to spend too much time interacting with their customers as this affected their assembly of briefcases and in turn the available inventory.
The robust Young AmeriTowne curriculum teaches students the fundamentals of banking, money management investing, civics, workforce readiness, and philanthropy. It was incredible to watch first hand all of these concepts being played out in real time all while the staff was managing inventory and promoting sales with the hopes of being able to make a profit at the end of the day.