In an earlier entry, I mentioned the school store in passing. I thought I’d go into a bit more depth in this entry.
It didn’t take me long to get fed up with students not bringing supplies to class. You might disagree with my philosophy, but I didn’t think it was my responsibility to make sure students were prepared for class. As such, I did not give students pencils, pens, or paper when they had none. I simply didn’t have the bankroll to support that. Elementary school might be different because you’re dealing with one set of kids all day, but at the middle and high school level, supplying every kid who needs it with basic tools presents a prohibitive cost.
So I went out and bought a huge supply of the most commonly forgotten items (pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, erasers, white out, lead, etc.) and started selling them. I sold them at cost, so a pencil might only be $0.10 or $0.15. This became an immediate hit. I would have kids borrowing money from each other (or “gifting” money) so they could buy supplies. My stuff was so cheap that kids didn’t bat an eye at the thought of buying what they needed from me.
It was so popular, in fact, that my students would tell their friends about my store and I had kids that I didn’t even know coming into my classroom asking to buy supplies. I even had kids buy things for other people as gifts.
The only thing I didn’t sell was food/drink.
I would even have a supply table set up at open house so parents could buy things for their kids. Cheap, tax-free school supplies are pretty tempting, and I always made my money back. I would always buy my supplies when they were on rock-bottom clearance after the back to school rushes, which was how I was able to sell them so cheaply (because I didn’t make a profit, I only made enough to reimburse myself, buy more supplies, and pay for gas to get to/from the store).
I highly recommend setting up your own school store to teach students responsibility, and to save your own sanity.