Local residents can now purchase Lions spirit-wear online, thanks to two Gahanna Lincoln High School seniors.

Local residents can now purchase Lions spirit-wear online, thanks to two Gahanna Lincoln High School seniors.

DECA students Todd Ives and Gram Bowsher recently launched a new website, GahannaPawPrint.com, for the high school's store, The Paw Print.

Ives said most DECA projects deal with identifying a problem and finding a solution, and the website is the result of that process.

"During the past six months we kept hearing from parents and teachers that they wished the store had more convenient hours," he added. "We led a marketing class project to develop a solution. The problem was there was only access to the store during school. We wanted to make it available all the time."

Bowsher said the online store was functional a month ago, but they just started marketing it via local media as well as social networking sites.

"We think it's a turning point for DECA as a whole," he said. "We think we're the first in the nation to have an online school store."

Ives' mother works for the Abercrombie & Fitch E-commerce team; the students worked with her and others from Abercrombie.

"We went on their campus to see how they run things," Bowsher said. "We wanted to see how they operate, how an online store works and how we could apply it to our school store."

A special $1 online T-shirt sale is being conducted to celebrate the birth of the new e-commerce site through February.

Purchasers can choose to pick up their online order for free at the high school store or have the item shipped directly for a fee.

The school store also offers school-spirit apparel, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, gym shorts, baby jumpers, mugs and license plate brackets, among others.

Ives said all sales will go back to Gahanna's DECA chapter, although a small fraction of online orders will go to PayPal.

The two seniors will provide a presentation and a 30-page report about their project at the Ohio DECA State Marketing Competition in Columbus March 18-19.

The duo said many schools will have projects that involve hypothetical situations; they hope to be set apart with their actual online store.

"It's been a great learning experience for our entire class, and we think we created the best online school store site in the country," Bowsher said.

Kit Lynch, DECA adviser and marketing instructor, said the seniors worked extremely hard to put the project together.

"Having an idea for a website and putting all the pieces together to actually take it live are two very different things," he said. "They've done an outstanding job of meshing the technical skills needed to make this a success. Both students could design a fully functional e-commerce site for any small business."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

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