(Published Feb. 12, 2007, 10:38 a.m.)
The Spirit Shop, 171 W. Main St., Whitewater, is not only helping bring business to Main Street, but it is also providing student entrepreneurs with valuable experience in management, marketing, accounting, human resources and sales.
On June 1, 2006, the Spirit Shop, with the help of the UW-Whitewater Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO), opened its doors with the hopes of bridging the gap between the community and university.
"We are a one-stop shop for local community members, tourists, students' parents and alumni," said Derek Henze, president of CEO in a news release. The store is open 4-7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. With opposite hours of the UW-Whitewater Bookstore, the Spirit Shop hopes to bring more students, parents and tourists downtown.
Great strides have been taken by the CEO to promote the Spirit Shop and other downtown businesses. The Spirit Shop has a contract with the University Bookstore to provide customers with UW-Whitewater apparel. The store employees also have the opportunity to work closely with the Whitewater Area Chamber of Commerce. With the chamber closed on the weekends, the Spirit Shop provides customers with information on the city of Whitewater. Customers can also purchase a Whitewater quilt at the store. Other businesses the Spirit Shop has worked with include the Double Dip Deli and Dapper Dogs.
Board members of CEO operate all aspects of the store. "Working at the Spirit Shop has given me the opportunity to go through every aspect of a business," said Tiffany Dawson, vice president of community involvement for CEO. "I can see myself starting a business from this experience.
"The Spirit Shop is a growing business," Henze added. Since June, the store has seen a 2,000 percent increase in sales. All profits go back to the student organization.
"The Collegiate Entrepreneur's Organization and Spirit Shop has taught me to think big," Henze said. "I can accomplish great things because of my experiences."
CEO invites any student seeking entrepreneurship experience to volunteer at the store or join the organization.