Carmel High School’s Holiday Secret Shop simplifies gift giving for families


By Amanda Foust

Waiting in line, hustling through crowds and juggling packages in busy shopping centers can often distract from the joyful spirit of giving during the holiday season. Carmel High School’s marketing students can help lighten the load for young shoppers at the Holiday Secret Shop – a safe and hassle-free experience for kids ages 3 to 11 to buy affordable gifts for their loved ones.

“All the kids look forward to it every year,” said Laura Cardamon, business teacher and sponsor of DECA, a student-run business club. “There are kids in my class who came when they were little.”

CHS’s DECA club assigns student committees to prepare for the Holiday Secret Shop. Customer service and promotional skills are practiced through the store’s development. Students choose vendors, purchase products and promote the classroom store to the Carmel community.

“I found it an invaluable experience given my desire to major in marketing in college,” said senior promotions committee manager Callie Branson said.

Holiday Secret Shop is open specific times during the day for preschool and daycare visits.

“We have all the marketing students a part of it,” Cardamon said. “They greet the kids, take the students to the shop, keep them on budget, help them pay and then wrap.”

The Carmel tradition has been around for more than 30 years and still going strong.

“It’s a big tradition at CHS,” Cardamon said, “We are happy to do all the work and put it on for the community.”

In the shop, children will find stuffed animals, tools, mugs, candles and many more affordable gifts. Prices range from $1 to $10.

“They get personalized presents for a value price,” Branson said. “The gifts are wrapped at the store, so that is one less hassle for parents and ensures they are truly surprised.”

The tradition raises support for the DECA club’s expense to compete in state and national competitions. The club prepares students who plan to be entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The shop is a learning experience for the students and a fun experience for families.

The seasonal shop is open to the public from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 5 in room F107 at Carmel High School, 520 E. Main St.

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