Retail Marketing Students See Business in Action

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College of Business marketing instructor, Ph.D. candidate, and owner of American Firearms Training, Eric Korn realizes the importance of applied knowledge and real-world experiences for students. That is what prompted him to implement a Retail Marketing class in which half the semester is spent learning the basics of retail marketing and the latter half of the semester is spent visiting various Harrisonburg companies and seeing marketing strategies put into action. Thirty students are enrolled in the class; after every business visit they report on salient issues they saw in the company.

On one trip, the students visited the Shenandoah Bicycle Company, located in downtown Harrisonburg. They heard from one of the founding partners, Thomas Jenkins, on how the company came to be, expansions the Bicycle Company has undergone, as well learn about how Jenkins created a solid customer base. At the time of Shenandoah Bicycle Company’s opening, there was not much of a cycling culture in Harrisonburg, and it was extremely beneficial for the students to see how Jenkins and his business partner worked around those challenges.

Jenkins sees the value in this class. He says, “there are some things you just can’t learn from a book…. Exposing [students] teaches them the ins and outs of business. [Students] can’t smell the shop or listen to music in a classroom, and the atmospherics of a place like this are important.”

Senior Nancy Chen has enjoyed Retail Marketing, saying she was able to “learn from mistakes and successes… it’s better than learning from a book.” Junior Kunal Jain agreed with Chen, saying, “I like to learn about entrepreneurial failures… you don’t learn that in class.”

Korn was able to get so many companies to talk to his students because of his network of friends in Harrisonburg, being an entrepreneur himself. Along with Shenandoah Bicycle Company, students also visited Midatlantic Motorwerkes, Beyond, Elk Run Mining Company, Advanced Auto Parts, Jack Brown's, Midtowne Market and Bottle Shop, and The Yellow Button. Business owners from Sign Pro, SOS Advertising, Wells Fargo Investments, Edward Jones Investments, Pale Fire Brewing Company, Brooke Chao Designs, Vision Studios Design, JMU Marketing, Ivy Tools, and Plains Mill came to students to talk to them about their companies.

By Colleen Lyons, Communication Studies '16

Published: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Last Updated: Monday, November 7, 2016

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