None of Cuyahoga Falls High School's marketing students remember who first thought of creating one-stop prom shopping, a promotion that drew hundreds to a show at the Natatorium on Sunday.
''It was around this time last year that we started … brainstorming about what would be their product for their company,'' said Emily Knight, marketing education teacher. ''One of the students at that time said, 'Let's do something where people can buy all their prom items at one place.' ''
The students were excited back then about their success in helping a hamburger shop promote its business and were eager try promotion again.
They envisioned bringing in dress and tux sellers, tanning salons, jewelry companies, hair stylists and other services for students attending the big dance. And all that came true Sunday, but first they had to learn from a little failure.
It was late winter of 2011 and they needed a Junior Achievement project. It was too late for the prom, so they decided to sell coffee mugs.
''They chose a different product for their company program and they chose a product that wasn't all that successful,'' Knight said of the cup-selling deal. ''They had a company that as far as JA company programs have gone in our history of Cuyahoga Falls High School was one of the least successful … because they were kind of [thinking about the prom project] already.''
They made $1,200.
Knight had to shout over loud music and talk as more than 20 dealers and an estimated 1,000 potential customers from high schools all around the area jammed into meeting rooms at the Natatorium.
Marketing student Erin Wilson, a senior, said the idea came out of their desire to learn about all the best stores that provide the stuff prom participants might need, and to do it without a lot of running around town.
''We want an event where we can just go and figure everything out,'' she said.
Katlyn Vernier of Henri's Prom Superstore in Minerva said the plan fit her company's needs exactly, so she became a major sponsor.
''From January to April, we are packed to the brim with prom,'' she said.
Betsy White of Hudson Tans said it gave her a chance to promote her company. She said state law regulates indoor tanning for people under 18 because of the dangers of skin cancer. Sunday she was showing off the sprays that give temporary skin color and talking about what she considers to be safe ways to use light beds.
''We promote doing it in moderation,'' she said, saying only a few minutes are needed at the start. ''It gives you a base that acts as a natural sunscreen.''
Nick Hall, president of the Cuyahoga Falls Marketing Education Program, said the club got started in the fall.
''We've had a lot of support from the community members,'' he said. ''This is something that from the beginning we didn't realize how much work would go into it.''
High school Principal Anne Alfano said she liked the idea immediately when Knight presented it.
''It sounded like such an opportunity for the kids to get professional experience,'' she said. ''It just extends their learning outside the classroom, interacting with professionals outside the classroom. I just said, 'Go for it.' ''
Greg Novelli of Novelli Floral & Greenhouse liked the idea right away, too, and set up shop right next to where a fashion show was held. He had Maria Kirby showing off a ring made with a real flower.
''Styles are changing,'' he said. ''We have to come up with the styles. Flowers are a little more unusual now.''
Laura Panaia, owner of Halo Salon & Spa, was showing off what she can do to make a girl ready for the big night and said the show should be great for her business.
''I love it,'' she said. ''I will come back to it next year.''
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.