For years, guests to BFREE have requested a small shop for visitors to purchase drinks, snacks, and souvenirs while at the field station. Over time, BFREE has sold things in earnest – primarily when the Marlin kids (Sofia, Shaman and Hyla) have been around and interested in making a few extra bucks. They’ve sold everything from candy bars and Coca-Colas that their dad bought in town and transported back into the bush to mangoes and other garden fruits they picked that morning from the orchard. However, the need for an established place to buy things at BFREE has remained.
In response to this need, BFREE approached Dr. Lori Pennington-Gray, BFREE board member and professor at University of Florida to help develop a store concept at BFREE. She enlisted her undergraduate class, Entrepreneurial Recreation & Tourism, to brainstorm what BFREE’s store could look like and how it could operate. In Belize, a “Cool Spot” is a shanty type building on the side of the road where passersby’s can stop to buy a cool drink and something to eat. BFREE staff members Jacob Marlin and Heather Barrett used this Cool Spot idea as a jumping off point when first describing the project to the class early in the fall semester. The students then were challenged to run with the idea and they did! Guided by Dr. Pennington-Gray, they developed inventory lists, investigated green sources for purchasing items, designed the facility, created marketing plans, and considered how to operate an on-line store within the BFREE website as well. Thirteen groups of five and one group of one presented their recommendations to BFREE staff over the course of two days. Practical advice included methods for managing money and inventory and included budget sheets and schedules, while creative ideas included themed nights featuring games and entertainment, fun foods and beverages and even a life-sized Jenga game!
Of the fourteen groups, BFREE identified two whose ideas and insights best fulfilled the field station’s needs and fit with our mission: Tropical Paradise and SNJ Consulting Group. Both teams put a tremendous amount of thought into their proposals and it was clear that they tried to envision BFREE as it is and the Cool Spot as it could be. We appreciate the professionalism of each group and the combination of creativity and practicality that both teams included in their proposals.
Congratulations are in order for each member of both teams for their exceptional work!
From Tropical Paradise: Jessica Eagerton, Hannah Van Der Stelt, Alex Hernandon, Stevie Shultes, Rachel Lazarus
From SNJ Consulting Group: Samantha Mattson, Sofie Oyen, Julius Martinez, J.P. Robinson, Shannon Stafford
We are grateful for every team’s hard work – clearly a tremendous amount of energy, thought and time went into the production of these plans. We wish to thank Dr. Pennington-Gray and all of the students in the Entrepreneurial Recreation and Tourism Planning class for their efforts. Also, a special thank you to Shaman Marlin who attended the second day of presentations and helped select the winning group. With the help of the recommendations made by the class, BFREE will work toward making the Cool Spot a reality this year!