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Columbia Tribune: MU students start store to help other entrepreneurs 

The project earned one founder a student entrepreneur award

Located in the MU Student Center, 'The Bridge' sells products created by other MU entreprenerus. 

This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 18 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

The Bridge, a store that has been operating in the University of Missouri Student Center since classes began in August, generated $23,000 in sales in its first three months, bringing more than $15,000 to student and alumni creators who sell their products in the store using a consignment business model.

The store was the idea of Drew Rogers and Blaine Thomas, both sophomores from St. Louis. Rogers was presented with the University of Missouri System Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award recently, but he said Thomas deserves as much credit as he does for the store. Thomas said there were no hard feelings that Rogers got the award.

"There can't be more than one Student Entrepreneur of the Year," Thomas said of the situation. He said he takes pride in what they've both done with the store.

Rogers and Thomas said they went to high school together in St. Louis, where they each tried to start businesses. They said at MU there were a lot of students talking about entrepreneurship, but not working together.

"Everyone was trying to do it on their own," Rogers said. "We wanted to create a place for Mizzou entrepreneurs to come together under one roof."

Rogers said gross revenue projections for the year is $60,000.

"We didn't want to make a quick buck, but really to give something to help the student entrepreneurs," Thomas said.

Student intern Molly Van Laan, a junior from Minneapolis, was the only person in the store early Monday afternoon. She said the store's peak time is during lunch.

"Some days it's insanely busy," she said.

The store sells shirts, hats and other apparel and several jewelry makers also are represented. There are books written by MU journalism student Riley de Leon, including "Driven: A Millenial Manifesto." Thomas said student-run services can't really be sold in a store.

Astronobeads, jewelry made by MU student Bea Doheny, are a consistent seller, Thomas said. A customer can buy a solar system bracelet for $30 or a galaxy choker for $15.

Rogers said the seller keeps 70 percent of the sale price and the store keeps 30 percent. Thomas said entrepreneurs are given two weeks to prove themselves through sales.

"We get a pretty good idea of what the product is going to do in two weeks," Thomas said. He said if the product isn't moving, space is made for the next entrepreneur.

"We only have 300 square feet of store space," Thomas said. He said there's careful screening to select who will be able to sell in the store.

Rogers is a journalism major and Thomas majors in finance.

Rogers will be recognized in June by UM System President Mun Choi during the UM System President's Awards Celebration. The award includes a $2,500 prize.