Students spend quarter at Skokie's Magazine Museum
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Senior entrepreneurial students are getting hands-on business experience as they work to help the owner of a one-of-a-kind Skokie store.
A group of eight students, led by senior Anna Chismorie, are spending the rest of their quarter with Bob Katzman, owner of Skokie's Magazine Museum.
According to Professor Edward Papabathini, a faculty member in the Deptartment of Management in DePaul's Entrepreneurship Program, the students are enrolled in ICS394. It's a senior seminar class necessary for graduation, and this project plays an important role.
Students are assigned to a business and spend the rest of the quarter researching and consulting with them. At the end of the project, the students present their findings and are graded from there.
"This is a live case that's actually affecting the business owner," Papabathini said.
Chismorie said her group is focusing on marketing for Magazine Museum, particularly involving social media. They're also working on financial research. She also added that Katzman will be able to choose whether or not to utilize the group's ideas.
"We're acting like we're his consultants," he said.
The group experienced some difficulty and leadership shifting at the beginning of the project, but Chismorie said Katzman understood that this is a learning experience for the students as well.
"He's just been really great about it," she said. "He doesn't expect us to be businesspeople."
The group based its decision to work with Magazine Museum on the uniqueness of Katzman's store.
"It's something different," she said. "This could be a great opportunity to do something huge for this."
Katzman's business is a small store filled with around 147,000 publications dating back to the 15th century. They range from old copies of "Rolling Stone" to "Life" and sci-fi magazines. According to Katzman, the store is organized into 104 categories based on person, place, event, date and meaning. When shoppers come in, he gauges what they're interested in and finds the appropriate publications himself.
"If you want something, I can find it for you in seconds," he said. "The inventory is in my head."
Katzman is connected to DePaul in several ways. He attended the university for two months in 2003 when he considered pursuing a degree. Additionally, he wrote a piece for DePaul students entitled "How Does an Entrepreneur Actually Start Out?" He wrote it with the intention to teach students an important business lesson.
"You cannot learn to be an entrepreneur," he said. "I think you are. I think a person has an innate desire to change their condition."
Magazine Museum went out of business for twenty years, but Katzman reopened the store three years ago. He hopes the attention from DePaul's project will lead to more prospective buyers.
"What really matters is that the publicity causes people to change their behaviors," he said.
"For me, it's scary," he added. "This is Plan B."
However, he's excited by the possibility of generating a younger audience through this project.
"You need young people who are still curious," he said.
Papabathini believes that Chismorie's group has the potential to help Katzman's store grow.