Small Business Supportby Michael "Snake Eyes" Foltz on 12/04/15
We’ve all done it at one point or another; sat around talking with our friends about a hobby or sport, and someone says “Would it be nice to have some place local…”. This could be a bicycle shop, comic book store, Motocross, or any other hobby from a long list. That’s how Timberline came to be; a group of friends sitting around having that same conversation. No one likes to have to travel hours away to get news or information about their favorite past time activity, or to see the latest equipment, or purchase parts, upgrades or new products. The worse is needing technical help getting your equipment back up and running!
Hundreds of small businesses across the country open up every year because of situations just like this! But all too often these businesses struggle because their customer base either doesn’t know that they offer these services, or their customers look elsewhere to fill their needs.
This is both the fault of the business for not getting the message out, and the fault of the consumer for not supporting the business.
Not many may be aware that in the spring of 2015 the Little Rock and metro area had five (yes, FIVE) paintball fields to choose from. These included Paintball Arkansas (Conway), T-Square (Jacksonville), Battle Field 89 (Cabot), Hometown Paintball (Pine Bluff), and Timberline Adventure Park (Bryant). Jump ahead just six months and three of these fields have shut their doors including 20-year veteran T-Square!
While the individual stories of each of these fields is not my story to tell, I can shed some light on one of the most common struggles; customer loyalty. I’m not referring to picking one field and only frequenting that one. I think having multiple fields to choose from is a great thing, even I get bored of playing my own fields and need to shake things up. I’m talking about supporting the retail sales of your local field. As the weekends come and go, I can’t tell you how many times a frequent player has come through the door with a brand new paintball gun or airsoft rifle that he’s “just” picked up at large retail chain or online. While I’m thrilled to see the sport grow with the addition of another player, the business side of me sees another missed sale. Small, specialized businesses like ours depend on every dime that comes through the door, we work hard to bring you, the customer, the best price on products and services that we possible can while still keeping our door open. So the next time you’re online and tempted to pick up that new gun or mask, consider the place you go to play, where you’re going to take it to get it serviced or upgraded and spend your money with a face you know. The alternative is; eventually these specialty shops are going to close down and one day you’ll have that conversation all over again; “I wish there was a place locally…”