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Mall merchants work with high school program
South DECA students craft holiday marketing
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Forsyth County News


Eleven restaurants and retail stores in The Avenue Forsyth are getting the gift of advice from South Forsyth High School DECA students on how to create and implement a holiday marketing strategy.

“The kids are doing a pretty cool thing,” said Gary Birnberg, owner of Which Wich sandwich shop in the outdoor shopping mall off Peachtree Parkway.

“They’re focused on how they can drive traffic to our stores ... We’re learning how to do this without a lot of capital investment.”

DECA is a high school marketing organization that encourages the development of business and leadership skills.

Birnberg, whose daughter was in South’s DECA program before graduating a few years ago, said the students assigned to his restaurant are in the middle of the project.

They have gone through the research phase and are focused on implementation and results.

Shelley Caine, owner of e.k. taylor, said the students working with her are professional and driven.

“We haven’t rolled out the program yet, but I think they have some great ideas about it,” she said. “We’re new to The  Avenue ... so we were really excited about jumping into the opportunity and to get started marketing in the plaza.”

Caine said she’s familiar with the DECA students’ “high caliber of work” and Debra Moore, who heads the program, is “amazing and one of a kind.”

“These youngsters have lots of great ideas and have lots more knowledge about technology than we have sometimes, so it’s nice to be able to work with them,” she said.

Caine said she hopes to offer the students some experience in exchange, noting they can learn about customer service and “building a business like we have and keeping that business going even in trying economic times.”

“They’ll get to see good marketing already at work, and how much of a difference that can make to a business’ bottom line.”

It’s the hands-on experience that Moore said is the key.

“We’re working with students this year to really focus on solutions that are realistic within today’s retail marketing budgets ... initiatives that will meet our retailer’s goals without requiring a significant budget investment,” she said.

Birnberg said the program is mutually beneficial, and hopes students can gain practical experience from working with his restaurant.

“The kids are really involved,” he said. “They like the process, and I think they’re getting real-life experience that they can take away and hopefully use in college and in other business situations.”

Other participating businesses include American Threads, Bravura, Häagan-Dazs, Natural Body, Omega Diamond Jewelers, RW Design & Exchange, Sage, Straw Dog and Ten Thousand Villages.