Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is It Worth It?

I'm really not sure how to approach this subject, but I'm going to try my best.  I'm not trying to put folks down, but I'm trying to understand the mindset people have.  In the past couple weeks I have had customers rave about my store, but in the same sentence tell me they are going to Walmart to purchase something we carry because it's "cheaper".  One told me they had been looking all over for a lure and I had it.  In almost the same breath said they would go to Walmart to buy something else.  Another wanted a product, but I wasn't open.  They purchased at Walmart only to be unhappy with it.

Let me clarify that I am not against big corporations.  I love capitalism.  I also love the mom and pop shop.  I love that you can go to a fishing store in any community, ask what is biting, and you'll get a great answer.  I will admit I am not the most punctual person.  I have been known to open late.  Let me apologize now to anyone who has had to wait for me.  Despite my time faults, I also have stayed open late for customers.  I have delivered items to customer's homes for them.  I'm not saying this to brag about myself.  I'm saying this to show you the difference between the big box store and a local small business.

You see, we are here because we love what we do.  We put money into the local economy because we live in the neighborhood.  Most of the time you will find small business owners are quite informed on the products they sell.  If I don't know about something a customer asks, I will try to find out.  If you need something we don't have in stock, we have the flexibility to order it for you.  Most big box stores order once, months in advance.  Once they are out of a product, it's gone.  We are not working by the hour.  Unlike most associates at the box stores, we have a vested interest in our business doing well.

Pic courtesy of K. McDonald.  Property of Woods Sporting Goods

I try to carry products I know my customers use.  Some stores may have multiple isles of fishing products, but how many of them are effective?  Are you looking for an older black powder product?  Many times I have them because I know I have customers that use the product.  There are some products I order in bulk to keep the prices down for my customers.  Try counting out a bulk package of hooks and repacking it into 5 hooks per bag by hand.  You get stuck a few times!  You see, I know many of my customers and I know some have been laid off from work or had their hours cut back.  I want them to have a good product for a great price.  So I will get my fingers pricked a few times, to help keep the prices down.

My final appeal to local shopping today is this- gas is currently over $3 a gallon.  How much money are you really saving to go 30 miles out of your way to buy an item that is maybe 15 cents more at the local store?  For years, my husband has been telling me to put a sign at the store that has the price of gas each week and the mileage to the nearest box store for all the folks that say "I think it's cheaper at ________."  I might just start doing it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

This Father's Day, Be A Dad!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.  I say dads, because there is a distinct difference in being a father and being a dad.  I am not saying this because it's my opinion.  I know for a fact.

My "father" never was a part of my life.  He decided to not be a part of my life right after I was born.  I remember talking to him one time in my entire life.  I also have no idea of what he looks like.  I never went fishing with him, played catch, learned a life lesson from him - other than be responsible for your children.

My "dad", on the other hand, came into my life when I was about 3.  He and my mom were married when I was almost 8.  He's everything my dad wasn't and I am so thankful that God gave me him.  He did play catch in the backyard with me.  He did teach me life lessons.  To this day, one of my favorite things to do with my dad is surf fish.

So men, be a dad this Father's Day.  If you haven't up to this point, please get involved in your child's life.  I can give you quotes and studies about how dads are important, but let's be honest, you know.  This Father's Day, give your kids a gift.  The gift of time spent.  The gift of saying "I love you" or "I'm proud of you".  Your kids will not forget it.

By the way, Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I love you!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Early Summer Hodgepodge

Hmm, usually I have a specific subject to post on but today I just have a hodgepodge of ideas.  So much going on right now.  We just ended soccer season.  Broadway girls softball is playing for the state championship today.  Gardening is going full swing.  School's out.... It's summer.

If your life is like mine, you are trying to figure out where the first 6 months of the year went.  I mean seriously, life is flying by.  My kids are already planning the complete summer schedule.Just thinking about it makes me tired.  I've been so busy, I haven't even had time to fish!  I know...  It's awful!  The thing is, keeping with my goals for the year, I am going to take some time to go fishing, to spend with the kids at the pool, to have cookouts with friends.

Another big thing going on here is the Broadway High School Girls Varsity Softball team.  They are in the state championship game today.  Funny, they have actually gone further than the boys football team, but you wouldn't know it.  No banners, no parades...  Well, I say Go Lady Gobblers!  You've already made us proud, now bring back a state championship!  If you want to see some great pics of the team, check out https://www.facebook.com/pages/SweetAmys-Photography/195648303786588 

Oh, just an aside from the softball championship.  Broadway's graduation is also today.  The principal at Broadway, Dr Lehman, said he would make sure diplomas were at the field for the graduates on the team and any graduates going to the game to support the team.  Dr Lehman is a class act and this is his last year at Broadway.  He is being transferred to Spotswood High School by the county.  Many are upset about this.  I just want to say, I have never heard anyone say an unkind word about Dr Lehman.  I have been told he is a good man of solid character.  Broadway's loss is truly Spotswood's gain.  God bless you, Dr Lehman!  May you have much success, but know you will be missed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Valley League Baseball

Greetings, one and all! I am very honored to be making a guest appearance here today at Staci's invitation. She has asked me to concoct a post on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: the Valley Baseball League (or VBL, for short.)

If what follows sounds like a cross between a sales pitch and baseball evangelism, it's only because I am thoroughly convinced the VBL is the greatest thing on the planet. And if you're a baseball fan who hasn't discovered this yet, I consider it my sacred duty to make you see the light.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the league, it is made up of 12 teams which are located throughout the Shenandoah Valley. You'll find them in Haymarket, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, Winchester, Woodstock, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Rockbridge, Covington and my hometown of New Market. Each team is comprised of elite college players who come here from all over the country.

I can't think of any good reasons NOT to patronize your local VBL ballpark this summer... but I can think of plenty why you should. I've made a list of ten of them. If you still aren't convinced, well, then I give up.

Top 10 Reasons You Should Support Valley League Baseball:

1. Closeness.  Everyone loves a big-league ball game. The roar of the crowd, the verdure of that pristinely manicured grass, the superstar players. I enjoy these things as much as anyone. They are fun! They are exciting! And yet, attending a major league baseball game is kind of like visiting a well-to-do person's house, or staying at a fancy hotel. It's charming, sure, but after a while you've had your fill of it and are ready to go home. The Valley League is the baseball equivalent of "home". It may not have the grand appeal of "The Show", but it's comfortable, and it's intimate. It's quaint, in the best sort of way. There's a closeness here that you won't find many other places.

2. Affordability
. Tickets to any given VBL contest will only set you back $5. You can't see a movie, or eat out, or do pretty much anything for less than that these days. Plus, the entertainment is significantly greater.

3. Future-Star Gazing
. We may not be the Cape Cod League, but the VBL has produced its fair share of Major League talent. And let me tell you, there aren't a whole lot of things more thrilling than seeing a guy you cheered on as a college sophomore making it to the big time.

4. Antics
. College ballplayers are infamous for their shenanigans. At VBL games, you can see things you wouldn't be privy to anywhere else. In 2006, my New Market Rebels bullpen would  put on choreographed routines from their post beyond the left field wall whenever our best home run hitter came to the plate. Last season, a visiting squad built a fire in their bullpen and were roasting marshmallows. It didn't go on long as someone was expeditiously dispatched to discourage this pyromaniacal behavior, but it was amusing while it lasted. These creative antics can often be entertaining as the games themselves.

5. Wooden bats
. The main advantage Valley League Baseball has over ordinary college match-ups is the bats. If you are any kind of baseball purist, then the ping of aluminum bats is about as pleasant a sound as fingernails on a chalkboard. There is nothing, nothing lovelier than the sound of a wood bat meeting a baseball. On summer nights in the Shenandoah Valley those sweet sounds echo from Haymarket to Covington and everywhere in between.

6. Warm fuzzies, sportsmanship, etc.
, In a world of crazed Little League parents, professional athletes behaving like brats and punks, etc., it's nice to see groups of young men who still shake hands when the game is over. That element of sportsmanship is alive and well in the Valley. It does my heart good, and it always will.

7. Rivalries.
I don't want to boast or anything, but when it comes to good old fashioned baseball rivalries, I know my stuff. I support a certain Major League franchise based on the North Side of Chicago. There's more than a little history there. I can tell you with the utmost conviction that the rivalries you'll see in the VBL are as fierce as any that the bigs have to offer. Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals? They've got nothing on the New Market Rebels and Luray Wranglers. So if you're into intense, hard-fought baseball, you can find it (and then some) here in the Shenandoah Valley.

8. Togetherness
. What better way to spend a lovely summer evening than at a ballgame with your family or friends?

9. Good baseball
. Don't think for a second that you won't see great games played in the VBL. Sure, there might be some infield throws that sail into the dugout and the occasional Little League quality umpire, but for the most part, the level of play here is excellent. Patronize the VBL and you will witness intense pitching duels, nail-biting 9th innings, and web gems galore. Most of the most thrilling and wonderful games I have ever experienced were right in my own backyard.

10. Involvement
. If you are inclined to take your fandom to the next level (and, take my word for it, if you hang around long enough, you almost certainly will be), there are any number of ways to involve yourself and volunteer for your favorite team. You could take tickets or man the souvenir stand. You could house a player for the summer. You could moonlight in the internet radio broadcast booth. My family is responsible for making sure our Rebels are well-fed after every home game. The work isn't always easy, but it is rewarding 101% of the time and it's a fantastic way to contribute to your team and your community.

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Market Rebels

Well, summer is here.  Although, I don't know how.  I mean, weren't we just celebrating Christmas?!  Alas, it's here, whether we time traveled here or not.  I'm just floating the time travel idea to explain how time is flying.  There is no scientific proof it's true, just a hunch!

Anyway, summer brings much fun.  Summer also brings baseball.  Which brings me to a big announcement.  We will be selling tickets for the New Market Rebels this summer.  The New Market Rebels play in an all wooden bat summer league called the VBL.  On a personal level, I have known two young men who have played in the VBL.  The games I saw when they played were some of the best baseball I have ever seen!

I have asked a friend of mine to guest blog on the Valley League.  She graciously agreed and her post will be here tomorrow.  She has a blog called The Fair Base Ballist and I highly suggest you read it, especially if you like baseball.  Elizabeth is an outstanding writer and I believe she could get anyone to, at the very least, appreciate baseball.  Most likely, she will make you a fan.  She can explain the Valley Baseball League far better than I can even attempt and so I will leave it to her.

In the mean time, tickets are here.  They are $5 for adults $2 for children 12-under.  We have schedules posted.  Also, kids in little league wearing jersey and hat, get in free.  I said kids for those of you adults who just thought about trying to wear your old little league jersey to get in free!

Not the Rebels stadium, but you get the idea!  credit: www.gardnerphotos.com