Giving the Child a Chance

We heap big praise on those families who are making numerous sacrifices in order to give their boy or girl the chance to attend tryouts for leagues and teams that are known for being more competitive (known in some sports as the "travel teams").  We know that virtually 100% of those athletes who ultimately play in high school and college are also participating in competitive leagues during the off-season from the school sessions.

If the boy or girl enjoys the sport well enough that they are willing to invest the time and effort to get better, then the opportunity exists for that to happen.  Putting the child in the environment where they can experience the quicker game, the faster pitching, the better defense, and the better competition makes the transition to high school sports so much easier.  If you allow your child to at least tryout for the better team, you are potentially opening the door to some very good things to happen.  It breaks my heart when I see a child with a ton of talent not be able to show and develop his or her skills. At age 10 or 12, that child's "career" in athletics may be over if he or she is not given the opportunity to develop their skill against better competition.

We get only one chance in life to do certain things and one of those things is being 10-15 years old.  That's the age when the opportunity usually presents itself from the travel teams. Those who eventually get to play on the big field or the crowded basketball gym on Friday nights earn their skills to play from those travel team experiences a few years earlier.  We were blessed with three kids who eventually played college sports.  And I can still remember when each of them came to the realization that they could compete at a high level of competition.  What a sense of joy and accomplishment they earned inside of them when they made the connection between the work they had put in to the success they were enjoying.

I am the first to realize also that for financial reasons some families are not able to do what they would love to do.  They just do not have the funds to afford the travel and the costs to be a part of a particular team or league. But my comments today are directed more to those who have the means to do it, but just don't bother.  I bet that virtually every athlete today in high school or college can tell you what experience it was in their past that gave them their "breakout" sense of confidence.  My hope is that parents do what they can to make that experience possible.  Otherwise, you will never know what could have been achieved.

Paul Reatherford Was A Great Influence

Paul Reatherford has touched thousands of lives in the Peoria area over the past several decades.  He was instrumental in so many youth basketball and baseball leagues, tirelessly giving his time and efforts for the benefit of kids.  Paul was a great instructor, a wonderful person, and such a caring guy.  He was all about teaching the kids sportsmanship and building character.  Wins and losses were important, but how the kids learned to handle wins and losses was even more important.

The Peoria area lost a great community leader this past week. Kids that now have grown up and have moved many states away will remember back to the day when they were first introduced to competitive games under the watchful eye of the person we all called "coach". And that he was, in the truest sense of the word. Thanks, Coach. We will miss you, but we will remember you.

Why Should a Small Business Embroider or Screenprint a Name or Logo

The door bell rings and the owner approaches the door and sees a male figure standing outside.  He is wearing a TShirt without any business name or identification.  The owner of the house is uneasy, unsure who that person might be and what he might want.

Contrast that with the situation where the person ringing the door bell has a shirt with Tom's Landscaping embroidered or screened clearly on the front.  He has a hat with the same matching logo.  The owner immediately recognizes the business name and realizes why he is there.  Is there a difference in how that representative of the business is received by the prospective customer, the owner of the house?  You bet.

Are sales lost because the roofer or the contractor or the A/C guy looks suspicious and uninviting? Does the shirt or hat with the business logo add professionalism and credibility? Yes it does.  Identifying the business on what is worn is so important to a mutually successful business relationship because the first impression is the most important one.

Also, think about how the embroidered or screened logo or business name is always advertising the business, whether the employee is walking in the neighborhood or standing in line at the grocery store.  The business name is seen by all who see the employee.  It's the greatest way for employees to advertise the business to those people who are prospective customers every day of the week.

The Trail Through Peoria is a Real Asset

We just came back from a brisk bike ride on the trail that runs through Peoria. What a great asset Peoria offers! We generally get on at the corner of Giles and Knoxville and head north toward Pioneer Parkway. Along the way we pass through wooded areas, cross a bridge, see many backyards, cross Teton, enjoy some nice gardens, scare dozens of rabbits into the woods, and enjoy nature. It's very close to Knoxville, but because of the thickness of the trees and bushes, we have never seen this nature before from our cars on Knoxville. How many years have we cruised that area on Knoxville and never thought about what was on the other side of the woods? And the people we see along the trail? Many nationalities, walkers and riders of all ages, men and women in equal numbers, babies in strollers, walkers chatting away, runners with iPods in their ears, and plenty of dogs walking their masters. Don't worry about what your bike looks like --- mine is a fat wheeled bike with no gears and old fashioned brakes. Sometimes we go further north to where Route 6 crosses the trail. Other times we turn around at Pioneer Pkwy and go south to Midsate College and back by Kellar. It's all good fun and great exercise. Try it sometime. Peoria should be proud.

Behind the Scenes at Sports Corner

"My order will be an easy one. Nothing difficult about it at all"  That may be the typical thinking that occurs when an order is placed. Generally it all runs smoothly and the order is handled within the time-frame expected.  But what are some things that can go wrong that may go unnoticed by the customer behind the scenes?  I thought you might find it interesting to see the potential challenges that have to be overcome to get that order completed on time. Generally they are all handled appropriately, but it makes the path to completion interesting.

1. The UPS truck pulls up at the usual time and the driver delivers 6 boxes.  We quickly look to see if one of the boxes is from the manufacturer that is sending us the order that has the early deadline.  Oh, good, we notice that the box from XYZ is there.  What we find out later is that the box contains an order from another store in Jefferson City, MO. It's not our order! So there is a 1-2 day delay while the delivery problem is solved.
2  We are reviewing a large league order involving 8 teams with 12 players on a team, all with different color shirts and different color #s.  We first have to sort through every box to sort into colors and sizes.  We count each shirt to make sure that we have the exact number of mediums and smalls and XL's etc. for each color. We write up the instructions that are different for each team so the correct screen color is attached to the proper shirt.  We check to see if we have enough of the red 6 " # and blue 6" # for each of the digits we will be using on the 96 shirt order.  Assuming that we have it all sorted and checked and the #'s are in stock, we are ready to get it screened, right?
3. Wrong. As we were counting each shirt, we realized the supplier sent 8 - XL's in blue instead of 6. We are two shirts short of the order, so the entire order is held up until we have the entire order in our hands. That may be 1-2 days later, depending on what time of day we found the problem.
4. We re-arrange the print date so that we can still hit the deadline for this order. The extra shirts come in, we get the entire order printed, and we call the customer to let them know the order is completed on time.  We are then informed that because of the heavy rains we just had, the game is cancelled and will be rescheduled later!!! Oh my, nobody said it would be easy!
5. One thing I forgot to mention....Right in the middle of counting the sizes for the blue shirts, the phone rings and I take the phone call.  After the phone call, now where was I in the count?

So this was one order, and a small peek into what can happen and does happen occasionally. Fortunately, the order was delivered on-time!!

Life Behind the Scenes at Sports Corner -- Part 1

At Sports Corner, we love our customers, and we appreciate our customers.  With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to share a peice of the action that occurred this weekend inside the store and at home.

Some of you know that we were blessed this week with a set of beautiful twin granddaughters.  Along with the joy and excitement of that event comes the realization of "What am I going to do with all these orders that have deadlines?"  Thank goodness for Teri and Tammy, who were able to be at the store Thursday and Friday.  They were able to check in UPS deliveries, they were there for the customers who came in or called in. They were able to leave notes about customer requests, detail on orders, and anything that could be vital to the completion of the order.

Karen arrived home Saturday evening from helping out with our daughter and the grandchildren and immediately went to the store to check on things. She did what she could Saturday night and brought home a load of paperwork to work on for Saturday night. Sunday morning she wakes up and heads for the store again to get every order to the point where it can be screened or embroidered. Do problems pop us that make this process seamless?  You bet.  Part 2 of "Behind the Scenes" will go into some examples of what can bring on stress in heavy doses. Deadlines? Oh yes, when you work in an environment that carries deadlines with virtually every order, isn't that when things go haywire?

I will conclude Part 1 by saying that we couldn't be more thankful that the babies are healthy and our daughter is healthy as well.  Thursday and Friday were filled with exhausting emotions as you can imagine when childbirth happens.  You generally come home and want to crash and to catch up on lost sleep.  But on this Saturday and Sunday, Karen did neither.  Instead, she did what a caring business owner does.  She threw herself into that store's pending business at the store and at home until nearly midnight Saturday and Sunday.  The crashing did not have time to occur.  But what did happen was that the orders were given the attention she knew they needed to make for a happy group of customers.  That's why they do their business here. They may pick up their orders this week, not knowing what all had just taken place inside and outside of Sports Corner. But now you know a little more about what does happen behind the scenes of a small business. And this Monday morning she is back at the store.

Oh, Those Tantalizing Aromas in Peoria Heights

A while back we wrote about the various reasons why a customer would prefer to do business with Sports Corner in Peoria Heights.  We left out one really big one.  Where else can you park your car and walk through such a vast array of restaurant aromas?  The Heights has become a restaurant mecca and people are drawn to all of them.  We really doubt you can buy screened T-Shirts and embroidered apparel from any other location and experience the tantalizing food aromas that are a trademark now of Peoria Heights.  Come check it out!

Peoria Heights Half Marathon March 31

There is a great event coming up on March 31 that we want to specifically endorse and support.  It benefits the Children's Hospital of IL and the Heart of IL Special Recreation Association.  We are happy to be printing the T- shirts for the event. The website for more information is shown below:

Check it out and enjoy the beautiful weather (hopefully!) and the breath-taking views along Grand View Drive.

Spirit Wear Fundraising Makes Everyone Happy

Schools have learned that selling spirit wear like Screenprinted T-Shirts and Sweatshirts, Embroidered Hats and Jackets, etc. is a great way to raise money.  Some of the more popular orders are for:

- School spiritwear
- Athletic teams and clubs
- Band members
- Science fairs
- Academic bowls
- Graduation shirts and Class shirts
- Faculty polo shirts

We can show you how to effectively price the apparel so you end up at the end of the day with a healthy profit for the group. Plus, you will have happy students and faculty who are showing pride in what they do.  That makes for a successful program.  Multiply that by the number of different groups who need money throughout the year and you can see that fundraising apparel can make a big difference in profits. It sure beats going door to door in the neighborhood asking for contributions!

Top Six Reasons Why Working With Sports Corner in Peoria Heights IL is Better Than Calling Some 800# Website

And finally we have reached the #1 Reason........

1. I want to put in a personal disclosure here.  This particular blog is not being written by the person who runs Sports Corner on a daily basis.  Instead, it is being penned by her husband because I wanted to give you a personal perspective of what it is like being the owner of a small business. You will not find anyone who cares more, who works harder, who is more committed to the quality of your order, and who will watch out for your order more than Karen Waldo, the owner of Sports Corner. You will not find the same commitment and caring when you call a stranger on the other end of the 800#.

When you order T-Shirts or Sweatshirts or some other spirit wear or business apparel, she mobilizes to get the correct sizes and the exact quantity of each. Sometimes it takes multiple suppliers due to inventory shortages, and she coordinates the entire order through screenprinting and embroidery. Getting the proper artwork in usable form can often be very time consuming, but is critical. She then checks each finished piece for quality of the work. Each piece of every order is touched and checked by Karen several times. Nobody cares more about each aspect of this business than the owner of the business. And when she is there everyday to help every customer, you the customer will recognize the difference in your experience. THAT is the #1 reason to bring your business to Sports Corner.

Top Six Reasons Why Working With Sports Corner in Peoria Heights IL is Better Than Calling Some 800# Website

(Continued from a previous blog)

Here is Reason #2:

2. Sports Corner has been a part of the Peoria IL community for years.  We work with many other businesses in the area, we know the schools and their colors and their mascots, and we have worked with many of the teachers and principals for years on various orders for spirit wear and uniforms.  The people answering the phone at the 800# website have no idea where Peoria IL is located, and they have no connection with colors or even the proper way to spell the name of the school on the front of the jersey.

Sports Corner brings a familiarity that will make the job of the volunteer or coordinator so much easier to accomplish successfully.

Top 6 Reasons Why Working With Sports Corner in Peoria Heights, IL is Better Than Calling Some 800 # Website

(Continued from previous blog)

Here is Reason #3:

3. If there are later additions to your order of T-Shirts or other apparel, Sports Corner can accommodate your request. With the long-distance 800# order, you will likely experience hurdles and red tape to your request. You never know when Aunt Betty or Grandma Dolores will want to order more T-shirts to pass around the family reunion.

Top 6 Reasons Why Working With Sports Corner in Peoria Heights is Better Than Calling Some 800# Website

(Continued from previous blog).......Here is Reason #4.

4. At Sports Corner, it is strongly recommended that sizing samples are ordered so the members of the group or business can actually try on the apparel for proper sizing. With the 800# website, you generally take your chances and guess at sizing, which can cause embarrassment and problems.

As the volunteer coordinator or the coach or the employer responsible for your group's apparel, you want happy group members or team members who are proud to wear the clothing being purchased. You want everything to fit just right! By being able to get sizing samples from Sports Corner before you make your purchase, you can be assured that there will be no surprises later. It's just another example of good old-fashioned service that sets us apart from the others.

Top 6 Reasons Working With Sports Corner in Peoria Heights is Better Than Calling Some 800# Website

Continued from our previous blog......Here is Reason #5:

5. You can actually walk into the store at 1306 E. Seiberling Ave in Peoria Heights and see and touch the T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Jackets, Golf Shirts, and Hats that you are ordering before you buy them. You can evaluate the heaviness of the material, the color shade, and the sizing that is specific to the product you are ordering. With the 800# website, you see your order for the first time as the UPS truck is driving away.

More will follow........

Top 6 Reasons Working with Sports Corner is Better Than Callling Some 800 # Website

Top Six Reasons Why Working With Sports Corner in Peoria Heights, IL is Better Than Calling Some 800# Website

6. You may call the 800 # ten times and never talk to the same person twice. At Sports Corner, you will be talking to the owner of the business. That's good old fashioned service.

Stay Tuned for the other five......

Be Smart and Plan Ahead

We have gone through life being told things like, "Plan ahead" or "Don't delay" or "The early bird gets the worm". Those words of advice also hold true when thinking about ordering team apparel, school spirit wear, umpire and referee equipment, and anything that needs embroidery and screenprinting.

If you are a coordinator or volunteer who has to order for spring sports, keep in mind that the manufacturer's inventories sell out quickly as the weather warms up. Umpires who need the IHSA patch embroidered should order very soon because there is a lead time for the embroidery work to be completed.

The longer you wait to order, the more likely there could be a backorder which could push back the arrival of your order until after the season begins. Be smart and plan ahead. Give us a call now and get your order in.