Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online

Pointer Place is now open for business and hands-on learning


Pointer Place is now open for business and hands-on learning
Serving up funky Pointer mascot apparel and delicious coffee, a new store at Van Buren High School is helping students gain real-world business experience.



Located inside the Commons Area at Van Buren High School, Pointer Place is the brainchild of VBHS educators Danielle Ross and Kelly Hays. The two partnered for the venture with the goal of providing students hands-on learning opportunities.

“We had a dream to train our students in customer service skills and provide them with ways to gain workforce-ready skills and earn industry certifications,” explained Hays.

The project gained momentum after receiving an Arkansas Career and Technical Education Grant for Food Productions and Human Services.

With the green light from district leaders to construct an on-campus storefront for selling merchandise, food and beverages, Pointer Place began to take shape.
Hays and Ross worked with school district staff to execute their vision for the shop. Double glass doors lead from the VBHS Commons into the main merchandise floor, where clothing, accessories, cups and other items are on display.

The adjoining café features a full-service coffee and smoothie bar. VBSD’s maintenance crew constructed custom counters and shelving and installed distinctive lighting. The store’s overall modern aesthetic is further accentuated by large, black and white artwork, as well as a precisely-placed Pointer dog over the checkout counter.

The store offers a wide range of Pointer apparel featuring exclusive designs by students in Ross’s courses in Clothing and Textiles and Consumer Servicess. Pieces are created and printed in-house before being tagged for inventory. Students also coordinate online sales.

Prior to the store’s grand opening in mid-November, the team had already fulfilled orders from ShopPointerPlace.com, an online store. New products are added frequently, including adults and kids items. “Our hope is to add up to two designs per week,” noted Ross.

Students manage the day-to-day operations, under the supervision of Hays and Ross. Team members work behind the counter in the shop and café, ringing up sales and crafting beverages for customers.

Participants are also responsible for marketing. Students regularly post new arrivals on the store’s website and social media.

“In addition to providing our school and community a one-stop Pointer shop, the store gives our students the opportunity to learn valuable skills that will benefit them now and in their future careers,” said Ross.

Hays and Ross are beyond thrilled to see Pointer Place officially open for business.

“It is amazing to see it all come together,” said Hays. “So much time, planning, and hard work has gone into this. We are tremendously proud of our students for what they’ve accomplished and are so grateful to everyone who supported this endeavor. From our District administrators, to our fellow teachers and the amazing maintenance team ... they all played a role in making Pointer Place a reality.”

Keep up with the latest designs and new merchandise by following @PointerPlace on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


This article appears in the December 2018 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine. 

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