Byline: Matthew W. Evans

NEW YORK — “You can’t have an opening of a store without sales,” said Leonard Lauder, chairman of The Estee Lauder Cos. “So,” he continued, pointing, “I have my eye on that red sweatshirt.”
Appearing at Manhattan’s Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, Lauder had just cut the ribbon to grandly reopen the school store in Room 237 — aka Murry’s Place — before a gathering of faculty, students and other Lauder executives.
“When the opportunity comes to you,” Lauder, himself a graduate of New York City public schools, addressed the group, “remember the phrase: ‘Give back.’ ” He was echoing the philanthropic philosophy the company has toward New York City public schools, especially Murry Bergtraum, with which Lauder has a five-year association.
During that period, the company has helped turn a humble selling space into a roughly 1,000-square-foot room that functions as more than just a store for school sweatshirts, filler paper and Bobbi Brown cosmetics.
Within mirrored slat walls and among counters containing other Lauder beauty products, school supplies and gear, classes take place as part of the Estee Lauder Retail Academy. The curriculum involves an array of related programs, including four marketing and merchandising related classes that are conducted each day by the faculty. Additionally, executives from various Lauder brands hold once-monthly seminars for those classes.
It all amounts to real-life experience for the students, according to Sue Grundfest, executive director for Lauder’s business information center and corporate archives. Pupils who operate the school store end up doing “marketing surveys — ‘Should we sell balloons? What kind of T-shirts would you buy? How much would you pay for it?”‘ said Grundfest. “So, they’re learning marketable skills.”

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