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Story by The Oregon Herald Staff
Published on Tuesday June 8, 2021 - 11:31 PM
 
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The students in Andrea Reinertson's Business Marketing II class at Ridgefield High School have been crunching the numbers and analyzing the data ahead of an important conference call. Big decisions are being made about business strategy, taking into account recent sales figures and market trends. But this isn't a mere exercise; the decisions these students make will impact an actual business with a staff of employees and a financial bottom line to carefully consider.

The Birds and the Beans coffee shop was developed and 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). The coffee shop is a local gem, featuring organic, regionally roasted Red Leaf coffee and delicious, locally baked treats and sandwiches from Killa Bites.

Reinertson's high school class creates all of the business' marketing, from social media to signage. It's a win/win collaboration: the students gain valuable job experience, and the coffee shop is the beneficiary of the ideas generated by a group of creative young minds working collaboratively, ultimately leading to an increase in foot traffic and sales.

Instead of reading about business in a textbook, Reinertson's students are able to dig in and help tackle real business challenges. Market planning and analysis have become second nature for these enterprising young entrepreneurs.

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? What flavor combinations will be the most successful when launching new seasonal options?

These are just some of the questions this group is helping to answer during their weekly deep dive. After brainstorming and planning, Reinertson and her students are 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 worked alongside Jhaveri and Bomar from the very beginning to conceptualize and create the coffee shop from the ground up. It was a massive undertaking, and a steep learning curve for the CAPS students. After many hours of work, the grand opening of the shop was a great success.

Since then, the Birds and the Beans has continued to rely on high school students to design, direct, and implement its marketing. Reinertson's Marketing II class is getting hands-on experience in how to conduct 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, then bring all of these elements together to determine how each one impacts the business as a whole.

The mentors help clarify for the students how marketing concepts apply to real life business management. They might offer ideas on why one promotion worked and another was less successful, or demonstrate how to increase profit margins by analyzing product costs. It is a master class in business marketing, with a local business at the center. Jhaveri is impressed with what the students have achieved. "They have done an excellent job. Their marketing efforts have really paid off," Jhaveri said, noting the steady increase in sales over the last four months. "It is a great real-life incubator for them to be exposed to the impact of marketing." Jhaveri pauses and smiles. "And I love working with them."

Bomar agrees. "This project helps build community," Bomar said. "It has a local connection, and it gives the students a chance to develop business skills through direct work experience. It's a great opportunity for them to work with professionals very early in their careers."

Some students say the class has impacted their long-term career plans. Dallas Martin, a senior, has been working with Bomar on signage, determining where to place yard signs along the roads based on traffic patterns. "I want to have my own business someday, and understanding the marketing side of things is really important," Martin said. "Mike has helped me get to know people and make connections."

Sophomore Dillon Kirksey is also enthused about the 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."

As the school year comes to a close, the class is already planning ahead to keep the Birds and the Beans busy in the summer months. They 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.

When you step into the lobby of the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center and walk up to the Birds and the Beans counter for a quick latte, a delicious dessert, or a delectable sandwich, you are helping Ridgefield students experience business, marketing, and entrepreneurship from a truly unique perspective.

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. Class period after class period, RHS students and their business mentors are working hard to make the coffee shop a special experience for Ridgefield coffee drinkers and students alike.

The Birds and the Beans is located inside the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center at 510 Pioneer Street. The shop is open year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheBirdsandTheBeansRidgefield, their website at https://the-birds-and-the-beans.business.site/, and follow them on Instagram @the_birds_and_the_beans.