Conway Furniture

In Canada, hockey is big. And the ancient art and craft of curling has its devotees. Our friend, Paul Dekker, Conway Furniture in Listowel, Ontario, has "never used the celebrity angle" in his sports marketing, "but we sponsor an annual curling bonspiel, in fact, it's called the 'Conway Bonspiel'. We don't tie into it at store level, but we do get acknowledgements for it. We also regularly sponsor ice time both for minor hockey tournaments and figure skating competitions. It is $50 to $100 for an hour of ice time. Again, we're acknowledged for this. We have in the past sponsored sweaters for soccer, a great sport for kids, low cost and maximum participation.

"We also support our local OHL hockey team, Midwestern Ontario Junior B league, with a sweater sponsorship and major ad in their programme. And minor hockey, Midwestern Ontario Junior C, in two neighbouring communities in our trading area. Minor hockey support is generally through sponsoring ice time for tournaments, and we have sponsored individual players through programme advertising and the high school hockey team in fundraising for a European tour.

"My manager is the president of the Listowel Cyclones, Midwestern Junior B league, and my controller/l.T. man does the bulletin for them here at the store. It takes time from work, but they are both great employees who get their work done, so it isn't a problem. The participation in that organization connects them with many potential customers.

"I did sponsor a car race for four years as well! And we have a golf sign up in the office and book two or three tee-offs on Wednesday evenings after work. A little social time, followed by food and beverage. When we are on the ball, we invite some of our manufacturers' reps to join the fun, and hopefully buy a round!

"For the most part these sponsorships are a part of small town life. We know the people who are involved and the parents of the children who are playing. If my business were in a larger population, I would handle it differently. I would sponsor one thing visibly instead of many things in a small way."


Down south again, Tommy David,

Sales Manager at Olinde's Furniture in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, loves to "Turn business into pleasure and pleasure into business!", and how better to do that than with sports interaction? Back 120 years ago, Olinde's was a small hardware store, now there are four Olinde's and four Ashley Home Stores. "We decided on sports promotions a few years ago when one of our buyers was at High Point. And we've had big traffic building promotions for the last two years with team players at the store. We do our ads in college colours. We're using sports themed furniture built around college teams, baseball and NASCAR. Our give-aways have been Big Man recliners in purple and gold with the LSU logo." On game days, Olinde's opens an hour or two early, and their ads tell customers to "come by before you go out to support your team." It works for Olinde's!

It has been said that when things are not so bright in the economy, we tend to turn to sports and sports-related activities for escape and to work off our frustration. Stir the imagination and enthusiasm of your customers. Hit them where they live! Consider your options and climb on the proverbial band wagon. You'll have fun while you're at it and might even make money!

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Leslie Carothers

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Baseball For Boys

Baseball For Boys

Since World War II, there has been a tremendous change in the makeup and direction of kid baseball, as it is called. Adults, showing an unprecedented interest in the activity, have initiated and developed programs in thousands of towns across the United States programs that providebr wholesome recreation for millions of youngsters and are often a source of pride and joy to the community in which they exist.

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