In spirit of business and entrepreneurship, Market Day must offer more than one flavor

The Southerner

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By Ben Simonds-Malamud

Business was booming this Monday for students in the Business and Entrepreneurship academy. Customers teemed out of the cramped theater lobby, thrilled to be able to spend a few dollars on some treats. To an outsider it may have looked like a successful endeavor for the young businesspeople running the show, a foray into what the real world may someday hold. But for me, it was clear: Market Day is everything that good business is not.

The market these students took advantage of is the same one used by communist countries throughout the world. The belief is that if there is one entity whose job it is to provide a service, they will do it well because it is their responsibility. But closing off the market to things like competition and foreign investment only serves to drive corruption and inefficiency. Welcome to Red China.

On Market Day, there was one stand offering chicken and waffles. It was the poster advertising this that initially drew me in. As I entered, much to my chagrin, it seemed the stand was designed to be as inconvenient as possible. While I did not end up waiting for one, the waffle looked pallid and average. The chicken strips, which I did eat, were about the size of my finger and tasted more like nothing than anything I have ever eaten, although with a subtle hint of freezer burn.

The problem was in the model. Three people stood behind the table. One prodded at the two waffle makers, as if he could accelerate the clearly fixed process. One recorded orders in a composition notebook; a valiant effort if not for the horde of students making organization near impossible. Finally, one poured syrup on the waffles; a job that required constant vigilance, as they were being cranked out at the breakneck speed of about one every five minutes.

Bad cooking does not have to mean Market Day is doomed to fail. I propose an alternative method. To the administration of the event: if it is business that is to be taught, teach it right. Make different stands sell similar items with competing prices and products. Instead of plopping limp, flavorless chicken forms in a pool of gluey syrup, allow students to express creative flair. As long as there is no marketing, there is no market.

Despite all the problems, Market Day certainly wasn’t all bad. In fact, the bite I had of store-bought vanilla ice cream and cookies was refreshing enough to make me reconsider my grievances with the chicken and waffles. And at the surprisingly reasonable price of $1.50, it cost only marginally more than a trip to the store to purchase the same items.

This is what Market Day exists for. It is not Iron Chef America, not a place for unmotivated students to sullenly prod at waffles, and certainly not a real market. Market Day should serve to bring Grady students things they cannot buy for themselves at that time. So please, leaders and students of the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, don’t try to make this day something it needs not be.

When Market Day comes around next year, whether they offer hot wings or just ice-cold soda, give it a try: you might not be disappointed.

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