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Sandstoner Marketplace now open at Potsdam High School


POTSDAM - Students, faculty and staff looking for a morning cup of coffee can now skip the drive through or long lines on their way to school thanks to the Sandstoner Marketplace, which opened last week at Potsdam High School.

The business, which employs approximately 10 students in a variety of positions from accounting to marketing and customer service, was the brainchild of Sarah Choong, who decided to open a coffee shop in the school for her senior project.

Before opening the business, Ms. Choong said she had to raise $1,000, which was done through donations. She plans to pay those monies back using proceeds from the store.

“There’s been great donations from the community, parents, students and teachers,” she said. “That really helped get us going.”

When asked how the first week went, Ms. Choong said, “It was pretty good. We had some good traffic, and it was nice to get the kinks out,” she said. A lot of people enjoy that there’s a good student service available for a reasonable cost. We’re not just trying to suck money out of their pockets.”

Ms. Choong said the store has also provided another, unanticipated benefit that she hadn’t thought of before.

“I think people really like the way the school smells now,” she said.

The cafe, which is located in front of the library, opens for business each day at 7 a.m. and remains open through 10:40 a.m. (the end of fourth period).

In additional to selling freshly brewed coffee, the store also sells fresh fruit and for the first time on Monday they offered muffins, creating what many were calling “Muffin Monday.”

“The baked goods come from Catherine Brownell,” Ms. Choong said. “She’s a student here and a prolific baker.”

Noah Chichester, who also works in the shop, noted Ms. Brownell isn’t the only baker in her family.”

“Her mom bakes for St. Lawrence so they have a certified kitchen,” he said. “They’re pretty well known.”

Principal Joann M. Chambers said she’s heard nothing but good things since the cafe has opened.

“The coffee shop has been open for a week, and it’s gone very smoothly. The business has increased each day,” she said. “I haven’t heard any complaints. There haven’t been any spills, and we haven’t had anyone late for class.”

Prior to opening the coffee shop, Ms. Chambers said an assembly was held at the high school. Ms. Choong talked to the students about The Sandstoner Marketplace.

“I didn’t speak at all,” Ms. Chambers said.

“Her primary message was this is a privilege,” Ms. Chambers recalled. “She said, ‘Let’s show them we can do this.”’

Among the customers Monday morning was Amanda Dillon, a junior at the school, who said she was visiting the cafe for the first time.

“I really like it. It’s nice to have in the morning,” she said, adding she’s likely to become a regular customer.

Rachel Bates works in the coffee shop and said it’s pretty cool to have a coffee shop inside the school.

“It’s cool,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of coffee addicts in here.”

Ms. Bates, who called Sandstoner Marketplace her “first real job,” said she works in the cafe every other day.

When asked what it’s like going to work while she’s at school, Ms. Bates replied, “It’s interesting.”

While the store does employ students, Ms. Choong said students actually don’t receive a weekly or biweekly paycheck, rather a portion of the proceeds will be divided among the students, who will be paid in the form of a scholarship at the end of the year.

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