Chasing the Carrot
Not to sound like a line from Goodfellas, but as far back as I can remember, I have always been a sports fan. It started simply enough as the kid that was obsessed watching his parents play Men's, Women's and Coed Softball. Then it became watching Tigers games with my parents, grandparents and baby sitters. Soon enough I started to be interested in many other sports as well. Boxing, Golf, Horse Racing, Basketball, Football, Soccer, nothing was out of the realm of possibility and I couldn't get enough. It didn't take long for everyone to realize I should be on the field as well, and that is what I did.
As I got older, and started to want more stuff from the teams that I liked, I realized that living in Metro Detroit, it was not always easy to find the products I wanted for the teams that I loved (oh a time before the internet). Not only that, I quickly discovered that as much as I cared about the teams here in Michigan, it was the sport in general that I loved. I became passionate about Minor League Sports, and rooting for the great story whenever it wasn't "My Team" that was playing. How could I not root for Loyola Marymount after they lost Hank Gathers, or for Valparaiso to win their first round tournament game. I started to love to look at sports apparel as more than a way to show support, and a fashion choice, it became an ice breaker too. Finding unique and exciting apparel made me feel more confident, and discovering teams from around the country helped me meet lots of interesting people that were also fans or from that area.
Shortly before graduating high school I decided that I was going to attend Central Michigan (SPOILER ALERT: It didn't go well at the time). I had already decided that what I wanted to do with my life was to have my own Sports Apparel Store where fans like me could come in and products for teams from around the country and world. I just needed to learn how to do that, so college came first. Then, it was obvious that I needed to learn how retail and the world actually worked, so I got a job in retail to learn as much as I could about the industry, and of course to make some money. After some years, and a few different jobs in sales and retail, I decided to push the dream out a little further and moved to New Mexico so that I could experience life from a different perspective. While there, I met my wife and we started a family. We moved back to grow our family, and to run a Limousine and Chauffeured Car service with my parents, which pushed the Sports Apparel Store way into the background.
Fast Forward nine years and I started to have day dreams about the future. A desire had been reawoken inside of me, and I knew that if I didn't give it a shot, I would regret it for the rest of my life, so instead of watching the carrot dangle in front of my face, I started to run after it harder than ever before. The dream was to have a place where Central Michigan and Arizona State fans could both come into the store and find something for their favorite team. I wanted to have a place where new fans could discover teams that they would embrace as their own. A place where people would not just go to buy something and go away, but where you could have a barber shop conversation with other fans, learn about new teams, discover a logo you might fall in love with (Maybe some kind of TokyoDachi style), have contests with new friends and get involved with other fans and groups. I knew that it would not be easy because the internet had changed the game completely, but I didn't look at that as a negative, in fact I saw it as an opportunity.
It wasn't about taking over the industry, it was about offering choice and an experience. Today, we have so many ways to watch sports that it is easy to see people being fans or teams and leagues all over the world. Fans, and shoppers in general, are still looking for some kind of connection. The dreams for in the store are still there, and they are developing over time as well. I am always looking for ways that the store itself can be more exciting, so that fans will be passionate about being part of the company and remember how they felt when they shopped here. But it has expanded to so much more. Our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages each serve a purpose to keep people informed and entertained. Our Advisory Board and Talking Sports Groups give people a chance to interact, and give their feedback about the future of the company, because it has to be about more than my dream, it is about your wants and desires too. Having you, the fan, interact with us is the only way that we can grow in an appropriate manner, so I invite you to join us across social media, and be a part of this journey with me. It took me twenty years to finally catch the carrot that I was chasing for all that time, now it is time to help you. My mission? I want to offer Fan Support for a Lifelong Journey. I can't wait to hear from you soon, and to help you discover the gear you want for teams you love.