It’s Taste Test Day in Kit Carson at the newly established business duly named Wildcat Corner located in the old Sage Brush Building (for us old-timers who use location of past owners as our own personal wayfinding) at 102 W. Highway 287. You know, the big building on the corner of the highway and Main Street—just go in the front doors.
Kit Carson School Superintendent Robert Framel, who has played a major role in the concept and now finally realization of Wildcat Corner is excited that Taste Test Day has arrived. From 5:30 to 7:00 pm everyone who came through the doors on Monday could get a free 8 oz. coffee, a $1.00 ice cream sampler, or soda and candy or chips. Framel says, “In Science we call it an experiment, in business a Beta test. Come join us at the store to be our taste testers and give us some feedback!”
The Kit Carson School District is the heart and mind behind this new business concept coming out of the community. Framel has played an important role in visualizing, along with his CTE instructors Alexis and Rich Gekeler, a hands-on learning opportunity that is entrepreneurial in nature.
Framel says, “The community has to learn how to survive and that means we need businesses to open, and we need our youth to realize they can stay here with learned skills and make a living. We wanted to show the kids there are opportunities if you just think out of the box.”
Fortunately, the newly built Kit Carson School has an array of tools and programs at their fingertips that has been the catalyst for the Wildcat Corner concept. The concept is easy, they have developed a coffee shop, an ice cream shoppe, a retail store and an event space all in one place. At the onset, the business will be run by volunteers including adults, teachers, and students.
The Kit Carson FFA and art classes will play a major role in developing entrepreneurial ideas and products that will sell in the store. The Gekelers point out, “The kids are using the STEM tools and materials we have such as a poster printer, vinyl printer, 3D printer, heat press and even a sublimator that can place a design on any type of material like a coffee cup, all kinds of surfaces, shirts, caps, etc… We are getting to the point where we can personalize items for gifts throughout the year.”
The Gekelers are allowing many of the Kit Carson students who want to pursue these entrepreneurial ideas as their SAE projects for FFA. “The kids are learning metal fabrication on the plasma table at the school. They are also making items such as furniture by learning how to combine metal and wood into useful household items. They use a wide array of CAD-like software, all the newest applications, which will also give them a leg up on 21st Century Job Preparedness Skills as required by many employers.
In addition, Lois Behrends’ art class has been designing cards, poster prints and other types of art that can be sold at the Wildcat Corner. And the accounting class is tracking the income and expenses and tracking the inventory—doing real life application accounting services for the new business.
Framel says they received two grants that helped them put the store together including a Cooper-Clarke grant and a generous grant from the Eastern Colorado Bank. With those funds they purchased the ice cream machine, SMART board for showing all kinds of programming, their mini movie theater, and all the shelving and wall displays needed for the students’ inventory.
One other program that is proving to be a Godsend to the Wildcat Corner concept is the AeroLabs Fifth Day Program provided by Jess Buller of Eads. Framel said, “Jess is part of this equation as his program has brought in many kids who have helped to prepare the space by painting and construction-type jobs. Throughout the weeks to come Buller and other volunteer teachers will be there at certain times to assist kids in learning business skills.
The large space has been vacant for some time and the Kit Carson Rural Development group owns the building. They are charging the school a small rent in order to cover their expenses and are thrilled to have the space finally occupied.
The current hours for the Wildcat Corner are:
Framel is always looking for volunteers, especially adults who will be there during the school events and on weekends. Some students are also volunteering their time. They hope to one day provide some salaried positions for the students and/or adults. The space has already scheduled some trivia nights and art classes.
The Grand Opening for the Wildcat Corner is Saturday, December 4 where they will be open all day. Santa Claus will visit Wildcat Corner on that day from 2:00-4:00pm. It would be a great time to make a visit to the newest business in Kit Carson, the Wildcat Corner, and see what they have to offer.