The Hop Shop, GDS’ student-run snack store, has reopened after a year-and-a-half hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff continues to feel the pandemic’s effects, including delays in shipping and difficulties purchasing certain items, but students are by and large happy about the Hop Shop’s return.
Juniors Liam Zeilinger and Katie Young, the store’s two CEOs, told the Bit that shortages and supply chain snags associated with the pandemic have hindered the store’s ability to sell affordable food. Accordingly, the Hop Shop’s prices have increased compared to before the pandemic and its profits, which are donated to charity organizations, have decreased.
“Everything is out of stock, everywhere,” Zeilinger said. In recent weeks, he said, “I would add stuff to the cart at the beginning of the day, and then at the end of the day, I go back and try to order it, and the prices either have gone up or it’s out of stock.” The shop raised its prices this fall to fund its operations while still raising a significant, though reduced, amount of money for charity.
The first charity the Hop Shop will contribute to this school year is So Others Might Eat, or SOME, because the most popular cause among students who responded to a mid-October form was combating hunger, Young wrote in an email to the Bit. According to the organization’s website, SOME’s mission is to fight homelessness and hunger in D.C.
The Hop Shop was forced to close in March of 2020, just under two years after it was launched in 2018 by Jonah Docter-Loeb ’20. At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Emily Scarrow ’21, who succeeded Docter-Loeb as CEO, considered the option of selling Hop Shop clothing and accessories online but decided it would be too difficult, according to Zeilinger and Young.
When students returned to campus for hybrid school last year, the administration decided that it would not be feasible to reopen the store, Zeilinger and Young wrote in an email. With students returning to full-time in-person school this fall, Assistant Principal for School Life Quinn Killy gave the Hop Shop the go-ahead to fully reopen. Now, the shop also helps distribute lunches, made in the lower/middle school cafeteria, that high school students order.
The store’s mission is to provide healthy snacks for students while raising money for various charities, according to Zeilinger. It also aims to allow students to purchase food at a lower price than they would at other stores in Tenleytown. It operates with the money made from selling food, and the profits go to a monthly charity chosen by students who complete a Google form.
Zeilinger, who manages the store’s restocking, explained that the Hop Shop keeps “a little in savings” to run the store but emphasized that almost all revenue goes towards a non-profit organization that students believe serves an important cause.
Several GDS students who spoke with the Bit expressed enthusiasm about the Hop Shop’s return, and many have supported the store by purchasing food and drinks from it. “It gives students a way to get food a lot more easily,” freshman Jessica Berger said. “The staff is really nice and they’re doing a great job.”
Sophomore Victoria Agerskov-Townsend, who recently bought a granola bar at the store, noted that “the food’s cheap, and there’s a lot of stuff you can get.” However, she usually buys food from the vending machines nearby in the Internet Cafe. The Hop Shop’s selection, Agerskov-Townsend said, is “kind of similar to the vending machines.”
Freshman Gideon Siff, who works at the Hop Shop, told the Bit, “All of the money that we get goes to charity, so I think it’s much better than the vending machines.” The Hop Shop also sells most comparable items at a cheaper price than GDS’ vending machines. A 2.17-ounce bag of Skittles, for instance, costs $1 at the Hop Shop and $1.50 at the vending machine.
This school year marks the first time that the shop has been up and running since the departure of Docter-Loeb, its founder.
Before the consolidation of the high school and the lower/middle school, high school students had access to a Safeway across Davenport Street where they could purchase food for lunch and snacks, Zeilinger said. After the Safeway was shuttered, he said, Docter-Loeb came up with the idea to replace at least some of the choices the supermarket offered at a small shop at the school.
“As long as the Hop Shop had been around, it had been with Jonah,” Young said. “He really embodied the Hop Shop.”
For its staff of over 20 students, the Hop Shop remains a welcoming community even in Doctor-Loeb’s absence. Freshman Wyatt Grace, an employee, called the shop’s small storefront in the Internet Cafe “a nice environment to just sit around in and sell stuff.”
Zeilinger still remembers how he joined the Hop Shop as a freshman. After a cross country practice in 2019, he was walking by the store and a teammate who worked for the Hop Shop offered him a cookie. Zeilinger went to a Hop Shop meeting, he said, “and that’s how I started working.” Two years later, Zeilinger—and the Hop Shop—are back to work.