People Column

November 15, 1995 1 min read

High school students in Fosston, Minn., wanted to learn about the real world of business. So they decided to open one of their own.

Tunes ‘n’ Technology, a franchise of Radio Shack, opened recently on the main strip in the town of 1,500, with Fosston High School students calling the shots.

The electronics and music store had been in the planning stages since October 1994, when the Fosston Economic Development Authority and the school district decided to work together on a business-related project.

The new store is owned by the development authority and operated by a 10-member board of directors drawn from students in grades 9-12, who serve until they graduate. The Fosston district oversees the business.

“The students had no idea what they were getting into,” said Bonnie Stewart, a member of the development authority’s board who helped the students get started.

Last year, students who signed up for the project visited sites with similar projects. In April, they worked out a deal for the franchise with Radio Shack, an electronics retailer owned by the Ft. Worth, Tex.-based Tandy Corp. With Ms. Stewart’s help, the students raised $100,000, much of it in loans from several sources, including the development authority and Fosston’s local bank.

To bring in more business the students have added to the Radio Shack line of products with compact discs, audiocassettes, photocopying services, T-shirts, and a section where customers can rent time on personal computers.

“So far, there have been a lot of people” in the store, said Dominic Hand, a Fosston High senior who is also the chief executive officer. He is hoping the number of customers will increase further after the store’s grand-opening celebration, scheduled for Nov. 16.

The board has hired 16 part-time students who will work one class period during the day and receive a half-credit toward graduation. Those who work in the evening will earn wages.

Several of the students are from the high school’s youth-entrepreneur class, which started this fall. The class will track the progress of the venture.

But for many students, the business is already a success.

Mr. Hand, the CEO, said he’s not worried about the business failing. “For now, we’re getting everything fine-tuned ... to pass it down to a new group.”

--Adrienne D. Coles

A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 1995 edition of Education Week as People Column