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Bakery Chain News Teaches Business Students Information Literacy Skills

What is the definition of a local business? Are there instances when a chain franchise belongs in a community farmer’s market? If a chain bakery is popular with customers, is it good for the producer-only farmer’s market?

During a guest lecture in Professor Beth Buckman’s BUSN103 class on decision making, business librarian Emily Missner helped lead the undergraduate students through a live business case based on a news article about the controversy of a Great Harvest Bread Company franchise taking part in the local Charlottesville Virginia farmers market.

Live business cases, a trend in business education, take on various forms, from assisting actual businesses solve problems to looking at a current business issue using news, reports and data to arrive at a possible solution. In this case, Missner discovered this case while creating a library workshop for a BUSN102 class on researching franchisers. After reading a news article about the case, she researched the issue further and found that it was rich in information and controversy – perfect for a live case!

After watching a story from Charlottesville local news, the students broke into four groups representing stakeholders in the problem: the farmers market organizers, the franchise parent company, the local franchise, and the Charlottesville community shoppers. Each group researched their stakeholder to take an educated stance on the bread chain in the market. The students also build upon their in-depth study of franchises previously in BUSN102, discussing what makes a franchise different than a mom-and-pop shop.

During the spirited class discussion, students decided that farmer’s market organizers did not do their research, which lead to the initial problem. According to the news articles, the market organizers didn’t realize that the Great Harvest Bread Company was a franchise. The students also learned that the Charlottesville store is franchised by a local husband-and-wife team who buy local produce, dairy and honey. Furthermore, nearly 90% of Great Harvest Bread Company chains do take part in their local community’s farmer’s market.

This class exercise illustrates innovative and engaging ways that the Libraries coach students to master competencies in information literacy, critical thinking and communications.

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