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Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | Last updated: 3:58pm

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UA students get retail tips at first ThinkBIG Conference



For those interested in becoming retail entrepreneurs, the UA Retail Entrepreneurship Club is hosting its first ThinkBIG Conference on Saturday.

Attendees will get to learn from local entrepreneurs about how to make their dreams a reality in the retail world. The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will take place in the UA McClelland Park building. The conference costs $15 for UA students, $40 for community members and $5 for REC members.

“If they [attendees] have an idea in their head but don’t know where to go, they can come to our conference and learn and take their idea and make it a reality,” said Sarah Cobb, the REC president and a retailing and consumer sciences senior.

“This is really great because you are listening to people talk who have actually started with an idea and made their idea successful, and they are going to teach how they did it and what they overcame, their obstacles and challenges.”

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By Ryan Revock / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Ryan Revock / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA Retail Entrepreneurship Club executive board (from left to right) Lindsey Walsh, Nicole St. Germain, Sarah Cobb, April Tyson and Xandria Leopold, helped organize the ThinkBIG Conference, coming up Saturday. The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will take place in the UA McClelland Park building.

Kerstin Block, the founder of Buffalo Exchange, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, sharing the story of how she grew a single store into a national business.

Following Block’s keynote speech, four entrepreneurs with diverse experiences will give a presentation called “From the Soil, to the Seed, to the Shoot and to the Fruit-Bearing Branch.” This portion of the conference is intended to teach attendees how to turn their ideas into a profitable business, Cobb said.

The final segment of the conference is called “The ‘Get-to-Work’ Professionals Panel” and will feature experts from the areas of accounting, investing and funding, commercial real estate and marketing, who will speak on how attendees can put their own ideas into action, according to a press release for the conference.

The REC was officially created in fall 2012 and the ThinkBIG Conference was one of its first ideas, said Nicole St. Germain, the REC treasurer and retailing and consumer sciences senior. The club started with six members and has grown to 15 members.

Another achievement of the club was Retail Jump Start, which took place in February. For Retail Jump Start, members pitched jump start ideas which the club then voted on. From there the club broke into teams, created business plans for the three best ideas and gave a mock presentation to actual investors, St. Germain said, all within a 24-hour period from start to finish.

The upcoming conference is not only a great learning experience, but also a valuable networking opportunity, Cobb said.

“I think that people should attend the ThinkBIG Conference because you can start a business through Google, you can look online, you can go through these different networks, but all of these specific networks are going to be in one area at one time,” said Jill Moore, the REC secretary and a retailing and consumer sciences senior. “You can learn from the people that get you there and you can ask them specific questions, and I think that is what is really cool.”


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