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How to setup an Elementary School Student Store

Updated on September 9, 2014

Fundraising with a student store

Fundraising at an elementary school is a continuous event. It takes a dedicated group of volunteers to provide the money for field trips and other educational activities.

One of the best ways to make money is a student store. While there is some money involved in the initial outlay, a successful student store can bring in an average of $100.00 a week.

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Most schools have a Booster Club, PTA or Volunteer Parent organization that is responsible for raising funds for field trips and other activities. How you start a student store depends on your organization but have a plan.

Meet with the principal and school staff. Present a written plan detailing what you plan to sell, where the store will be located and the time and day. Include goals, what you plan to see in income and how it will be funded. Provide a list of the items you want to sell, schools prefer educational and student supplies. Let them know how you plan to staff it. Although they may not need to know, let them know how you plan to track the inventory and the sales.


Based on the budget of the parent organization, the items to be sold at the store must be purchased. There are a great many places to find items that the kids will buy. The dollar stores are a good resource. School supplies are always in demand and elementary school children love mechanical pencils. Make sure that you also stock the lead refills.

Inventory - There are two places that we currently buy items for the student store. One of them is Fun Express which is the wholesale site for Oriental Trader. You will need to setup an account and have a resale license. You must buy at least $100.00 and pay for it when it's ordered. 90% of our student store inventory comes from there. The other site we use is Geddes. Our Volunteer organization has an account with them. They invoice when the order is shipped. One of the major things they carry is the lead for the mechanical pencils which are a big seller.

Pricing - At both sites, it is possible to break down the cost per item. Depending on the cost, it is possible to mark up the item 50% and still make it affordable for the children. Nothing we have is priced higher that they can get it at the dollar store. For the mini erasers, the cost is $.01 each and are sold for $.05 each. The smaller children buy them because they are only a nickel. The older kids love it because they can get 5 for a quarter.

Some of the other items we sell are: mechanical pencils, Megagell pens, pencils, chalkboards (big seller), notepads, crayon erasers, friendship bracelets, pencil sharpeners. The prices range from $.05 to $1.25.

The photo is the chalkboards at Fun Express that the children buy quicker than we can keep them in stock.

Bulk Plastic Pencil Sharpener Assortment (72 Pack)
Bulk Plastic Pencil Sharpener Assortment (72 Pack)
Teachers dislike the constant whir of the pencil sharpener. The kids do much better with little pencil sharpeners and it gives them something to do when they aren't paying attention.

Store Location

If your school is fortunate enough to have a student store facility, make the best of it. Our student store is on the stage in the cafeteria. This works for us in two ways. 1. All the children have to come to the cafeteria at lunch so they have to walk by. 2. It is indoors so weather is not an issue.

Setup and Display - We setup two tables and display the items in various containers. Each container is marked with the price. Our student store is on Wednesday. We open for the lunch period. That gives them time to eat, time to shop and time to play.


Volunteer's are always needed. The store can be run by one person but really should have three. Two people are needed to work directly with the children and one should be traffic control. Not more than 4 children should be at the tables at one time. Children will steal. It is also more effective to limit the amount for those children who need a little more help with money issues. It is fun to watch them learn how much money is what and at the end of the year, our kids are pretty good at counting money.

One more thing the kids love

Mini Eraser Assortment (500PC) - Stationery - 500 Pieces
Mini Eraser Assortment (500PC) - Stationery - 500 Pieces
We sold these for a penny a piece. The younger 1st and 2nd graders did not come to school with money for the student store but could scrounge up a penny or two. Although we sold the erasers for the pencil tops and the standard pink rectangle eraser, these were the most popular. They come in lots of 500 and we could sell at least that much in 2 weeks.

Have fun because the kids are really wonderful!

Just remember that at times it helps to have a sense of humor and lots of patience

Someone to keep records

We created a worksheet to show the opening dollar amount and the breakdown by denomination. We also show the same breakdown at the close of the store. The sales are totaled from that sheet and the sheet and the money are given to the treasurer. Two people initial the sheet for accountability. The cash box with the money for the next week is locked in the Volunteer Room. The records must be very available and we balance every week. Each organization will have their own rules that must be followed.


Post signs at various places in the school on the day of the store to remind the children. Send home reminders the day before. Get it into the school newsletter as an ongoing event. The children will quickly get used to it and when, for whatever reason, the store is not open, they will track you down to find out why not.

Tips for a successful store

  1. This is a good teaching activity on how to spend money and count change. Encourage the children to do as much as they can.
  2. This also helps children learn to be a good consumer by choosing items they need before they buy what they want.
  3. Self-esteem booster when the smaller children can make their own purchases.
  4. Do not try to hurry the children. They won't hurry.
  5. Trying to have the child hold all the items they want to buy and pay at one time does not always work. If necessary, let them purchase one item at a time.
  6. There will be students who steal. Setup your store in a way that it can be monitored.
  7. Monitor traffic. Only 4 children at a time in the shopping area.
  8. Don't buy junk. Both of the sources sell Cheap Plastic Stuff (CPS) but also sell items that are better quality. We want the buying experience for our children to be positive.

Reader Feedback

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      7 years ago

      What a great resource you've created for those wanting to set up a school store, the kids look foreword to having their own special school store to go to for sure, very nicely presented with great tips from your experience. :)


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