New school, festival supply business opens with bright theme, mission to extend customer service

Special to the Journal of South Mississippi BusinessJuly 9, 2014 

Coast shoppers have a bright, new space to shop for educational supplies and festive items. Educate and Celebrate recently opened on Cowan Road in Gulfport.

“We just saw there was a tremendous need in this market area with no other store in a 60-mile range offering what we do,” said owner Macey Young.

Young, who has an MBA and a background in management and finance, left a position with Hancock Bank to launch her new store. Once she decided to do it, Young said everything moved quickly. She opened the store only about five months after starting work on her business plan.

Young opened the doors to customers in early June, but the grand opening is planned for the third week of July and she plans an additional celebration to follow, with activities for children.

Young advises those who want to become entrepreneurs to strike a balance between organization and the excitement and creative spark that attract them to start a business. That philosophy is reflected in the look of the store. The first impression is color and creativity, but everything is neatly and logically organized.

Customers enter the front door and find themselves in a bright open area. A crossroads sign indicates that to the right one will find supplies for celebrations and to the left, educational items. There are no typical aisles of store shelving. An open arrangement of bright, color-coordinated shelves invites customers to explore the store. Large wall plaques feature inspirational quotes from famous people including Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss and C.S. Lewis. The celebrate section includes themed party supplies. Educational supplies include just about anything for a classroom or home schoolers.

One side of the entry area features a picnic table where Young helps cutomers explore catalogs and the web to help them find what they are looking for.

“Our goal is to make our busy clients’ lives easier and to provide a fun shopping experience,” Young said.

The store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. There is also a website, www.educatecelebrate.com and an email, sales@educatecelebrate.com, for questions and requests.

“We respond to emails quickly to make sure we can get the things our clients need,” Young said.

Young believes her secret to success will be “really getting out and working with all area schools.” She is gathering supply lists from schools and putting together custom school and grade-specific supply bags so parents can complete school supply shopping with one easy stop.

Young is very active in the community and has taken numerous leadership roles. She has served as president of organizations including Junior Auxiliary, Kiwanis and PTA and is active with the Chamber of Commerce. Her young daughters also keep her involved in youth activities interacting with parents, children and teachers.

Young also has experience with project management, skills she said she is calling on frequently with every week bringing new projects and inventory orders.

She said the most difficult thing for her is to overcome perfectionism. “You can’t just sit and wait for 100 percent perfection; you have to move on.” She also said fear stops a lot of people from acting on dreams and opportunities.

Educate and Celebrate is on Cowan Road in a location formerly occupied by a School and Carnival store. Young said she likes the fact that it is near the beach. She said there is a warehouse section she is not yet using that can provide space for expansion, additional services and meeting space.

She is looking at branching out to possibly offer services including tutoring for children and perhaps Pinterest nights for teachers. She is also looking at incorporating more seasonal items in the Celebrate section from Mardi Gras to other holiday themes.

Added Young: “We’re positioned and ready to move with what the community needs.”

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