The history and hard work that lies behind the BSM spirit shop


Ashtyn Lowenberg

The Benilde-St. Margaret’s Spirit Shop.

The Spirit Shop is an apparel and candy store hidden inside the BSM cafeteria. It’s a popular attraction among students during and after school hours. BSM’s Spirit Shop was started during the 1989-1990 school year by Mary Fran O’Keefe and Kathy McLeod, who recently passed away on November 24th, 2021.

McLeod was a prominent figure in the creation of the Spirit Shop and had multiple children and grandchildren attend BSM. As a result, she devoted much of her time to the BSM community.

Mary Fran O’Keefe is a BSM alum and is currently the Director of Alumni Relations and Community Events, while also helping run the Spirit Shop. O’Keefe and McLeod were the first in the BSM community at the time to turn the idea of having a Spirit Shop into a reality. “We walked on Theodore Wirth Parkway every morning in the summer talking about how it would be great [to have a Spirit Shop] because Breck and somebody else had sort of a Spirit Shop, so we were trying to figure out how to do that too,” O’Keefe said.

The Spirit Shop is currently open on school days from 11:00- 3:00 pm. The shop contains BSM apparel and accessories, an assortment of candy, letterman jackets and patches, punch cards for candy, etc. They also sell goodie bags of candies and small items around different holidays that parents can buy to surprise their children during the school year.

The Spirit Shop was originally located in the small back room of where the Spirit Shop is located today. The original Spirit Shop sold similar items to what is sold in it today, however, baked goods were also sold there in the beginning, though that aspect was soon shut down by the health department. “I remember placing the first order for Champion sweatshirts. We ordered 144 Champion sweatshirts and I thought oh my god, what are we going to do with all of these,” O’Keefe said.

I remember placing the first order for Champion sweatshirts. We ordered 144 Champion sweatshirts and I thought oh my god, what are we going to do with all of these

— O'Keefe

The Spirit Shop has always been run solely on volunteers. Currently, it is run by over 50 moms of current BSM students. In the very beginning, it was only run by the same couple of volunteers who would donate their time to working in the Spirit Shop every day––Kathy McLeod being one of them. Volunteers are expected to restock inventory, wait on customers, place orders for duffel bags/letterman jackets, count money, take orders for balloon goodie bags and deliver them to students for special occasions, etc.

The Spirit Shop has always been popular among BSM students, and the success has increased steadily in the most recent years. “I think we’re on a pretty good roll. We have a very horizontal structure so no one volunteer is really in charge. Many of [the volunteers] have very specific duties, and that seems to work really well. We have about 50 or more volunteers that work throughout the year, which is a lot,” O’Keefe said.

Buying items from the Spirit Shop is a convenient way for students to support the school financially while also representing the school through apparel and accessories. With the continued support from students and volunteers, BSM’s Spirit Shop hopes to continue its success for many school years to come.