Reeling from Market Crash at 'Bluff City Outdoors' | Small Business Revolution - Main Street: S3E6
Alright we're about to go in and surprise Bluff City tackle, mark Felicia, and Whitney are in sizes really great father-daughter. And business, and we can't wait to help them figure out how to grow this Kappa business here at home my favorite part they have no idea we're here let's do it that's it. Yes. Surprise. You've. Been selected. You. Got two ludian shock this is the look of shock on your face okay, small. Towns across the country are fighting for their survival with, the odds stacked against, them but what happens if we join that fight if we dedicate, a little money a lot of experience, and thousands, of hours of work into one small town focusing. On the businesses, that are the heart of their Main Street what started as an idea became, a national, movement with over 30,000, towns nominated. For the $500,000. Makeover, and more than a million votes cast from. Now. In our third season the team is taking on its biggest challenge, ever the town is three times bigger than any we've helped before and the hurdles Halton, faces, will put to the test the very idea of Main Street America, so Amanda brakeman and her team of marketing experts, at deluxe are gold or for the people of Alton Illinois and, they're, not alone new, season three co-hosts Ty Pennington will, be working with the team to rehabilitate. The town's buildings, while a whole cast of experts helps rehabilitate its, businesses every, episode, we'll be working with a new small business, to see if we can change the odds if together, we could, revolution. If. Everybody, pick up a pole dawn in the water and. Be a very, peaceful world. You. Get your mind off of everything, else going on you're focusing, on your fishing and. What you're doing and nature you know to have a peace of mind your maggot is go it relax. You. Know if you don't catch fish they'll run out and been, doing this enjoyable, it's peaceful, looking. At nature you, know nothing, is. Like that. I've. Been in the bait business since 1991. And then I work at Boeing full time then over there software engineer 32 years. What. About the shop it was 2003. When. I first bought Laos work Saturdays, loved, it was like R&R. One. Of the customers that was started coming in was, my, current wife and, she wasn't my wife at the time but he, would talk to me and talk to me every single time I come in he would talk to me and, I kind of felt like he was a little sweet on me. She. Was very pretty had a great smile and my. Manager here said we're gonna quit carrying, goldfish over the winter and I thought it was ten you keep those goldfish in here because I want her to keep her coming, here so. We. Went out on our first date he was so, of my god he was just he, opened doors for me, he. Talked real soft, he. Was real sweet and it, was just he stole, my heart we, started going out year. And a half later we got married that's. The best part of the bait job I. Was. 21, when I started working in here and it was just because I wanted, just something to do for a while well. It ended up being that I kind, of liked to be, here a lot and finally, I got the chance to take the job full-time and I, jumped. Right on it. She's. A sweetheart she's, my baby she was my youngest daughter he. Loved, my kids he, loved Whitney for. Him to want Whitney to have this it, means a lot I mean you couldn't ask for better and, we, just spent a lot, of quality time, together, which is one. Of the things that I really, miss now because, I have to leave and go out of town at work, Felicia's. She works at, power plant and she used to work at the one blow play here and then they closed, and she was able to transfer, up to a Havana, Illinois, which is two hours north. I. Drive. 98. Miles I'm, up there roughly. 14. Days out of a month unless. I'm up there on overtime it's really hard on us. I. Feel. Like I'm supposed to take care of him he's supposed to take care of me and, sometime, I feel like when, I'm away I'm not there to take care of him I could, be working down at the bait shop I, would, be able to go home and do a lot, more with my husband, and with my grandkids and with my kids. We. Would like to create enough income to have her work here but, then we went from our best, year ever in, 2009. To our worst year ever in 2010. With. The big box stores moving in and with the additions of all the online retailers. Business. Was tough just a couple of years ago mark had thought about shutting its doors you know and moving on this. Is a landmark this. Place goes way, to go what, a fisherman's and anglers hunters, gonna go get this thing.
That. Was kind of great. Brain. Getting older you. Don't have the energy I. Would. Have hated to see the doors closed, this is home to Maine they. Treat you low coming through the dough. It's. Enjoyable coming in here every day and not many people can say that about their jobs I love, it being in here I. Really. Hope. That, we. Get things going, to where she doesn't have to worry about you, know we got to be here next year. Bluff. City has so much potential they're located, just a few miles from some of the best blue catfishing waters in the world and yet, it, doesn't sound like they're profitable luckily, we've got Hilary Hutchison on our site and she's built a life out of Marian fishing expertise, with business savvy hillary, was co-owner of trout TV runs, her own geysers, and owns her own shop she's, a perfect, person to help Bluff City turn a profit without, giving up their passion. Wow, are they closed it, almost looks like it doesn't mean from the outside I think we need to address this it looks a little abandon. Or kind of foreboding when, you drive past you don't really realize it right here they're actually open. Good. Morning hey, guys hey. Paul, you meet Hilary I, have. This is Whitney every. To me you making. All. Right, well show us around okay. Stores kind of laid out by a different section so we'll start up here at the front they. Have pretty much fast plastics, to this wall, big. By Bates this, entire, wall, is. All stuff we're closing out we used to carry every, soom item that was made it. Worked well, before the internet because we'd have guys drive 200, miles come on sue since. The Internet's got everything available that. Doesn't, work. So. Then that here's more crappy stuff so, different colors work in different places, and, we, do, roof oh we just thought yeah. We, we got a little some, lighting issues that's, that's one of the things I was really wanting to try to get fixed it. Just goes out randomly, yeah it's, a switch over there and you go flip it here to come back on sometimes. It does that I don't know it's my experience it goes awful live doesn't. So. Lady is definitely, on the checklist and so. Is the bathroom mark. And Wendy didn't exactly volunteer to, take us in there on the tour but we did get a look and even. For a bait shop bathroom it's, kind of gross and speaking. Of kinda gross. Then you're live beats behind Connor I think, behind the counter, there's, our pet turtles. These. Are pets they're, not no, they're not bait their prey Oh. What. Percentage, of your business is likely oh it's. Pretty significant, live in frozen baits probably. 25. Wow. That's. Our height I turn, high high mortgage stuff can, I try it you sure okay, all right all right Hillary you play the customer, mark I would. Really like to get a dozen rosy, reds and a half a tube of crickets please. Come. On lady there's already somebody of my vision hole right now put, things up how's that like I don't want that one. That's. Cute, Oh your profitability, just, stinks. Yeah. Just. A dozen well we like to over-deliver. Give. Us a sense for kind of the health of the business if you had to say we're making money you were breaking even we're, losing money where would you say you're falling last, year was 46, thousand dollar loss primarily. Driven by myself, we opened two more stores in couple, areas just to see if there if we could get something go in there so, we've since shut those down biggest, way to get to profitability is to grow the revenue and reduce the expenses, but how, do you feel like you're doing kind of on an expensive, side we. Buy most products, pretty, fairly, right we use a local manufacturer. For sinkers, for our big sinkers our problem, has been getting, the sales up that's, where we've been struggling, walk. Us through why and the windows were boarded up in.
Order To get more cuz it was all windows in order so we could you know pegboard can be put there and stuff displayed, as. We were walking up we kind of questioned, if you're you know. Didn't. Remember we're coming are they open and it feels a little you know kind of um it's. Not as welcoming, as you guys are right we want to make sure the whole society is bringing, this very very, drab travellish, Doris you know it just looks like another drab building on Broadway yeah what, percentage of your customers would you say are like. Your current, oil customer. Base and how many are coming through the door for the first time we have been gaining, new customers, over the last year. One, of the things that I started last year to, increase, reach. More people was a series, of catfish tournaments, out on the river and called. Catfish on the confluence, because, we're at the confluence of the Missouri the Mississippi coming together and. But. I would like to get, more out of town people in. For those absolutely. Yes let's do more of those I mean that's not just good for your business that's good for the entire city of Alton, and your, national. Visibility, yeah, you know your your woman running your own fly. Shop guide, service I've, been after Whitney, for the last couple years that she needs to be the face of our business, and she's. Been reluctant about it what's your hesitation that. Maybe. It should be a catfish or, something, or. Like a spoonbill a big, part of Bluff City outdoors is Whitney she went to another, store and then when she came back all the customers had followed her who the other one and then came back here tell us the story I just. I had, to go somewhere for a little bit just to try it out and, help me learn different, things because, you know I was kind of managing that whole area without him. Wherever, she was working is where the live bait customers. Were going she's clearly a competitive, edge so, I think that probably the first step is accepting, that your big driving force behind this and you, know being the, face of it is is probably gonna be better for the business maybe you can give yourself a race huh. I like, that. So, the fact that mark is already passing down his business - Whitney is huge, because it's, not always that the next generation, is gonna, be as passionate about something that you are especially, when it comes to something like fishing, which is like worms guts fish, and to, find out that you know your stepdaughter has the same passion for it than you do that, doesn't happen every day at the. Mississippi, River defines, it and between, the fishing tournaments, are hosting, and the Ohio town English bluffs - the outfits to fish these world-class waters, mark, and Whitney have a unique, opportunity to bring people and dollars. Into, all the. Destination, businesses like this are great for small towns so, we've got to get Bluff City healthy enough that mark and eventually, Whitney can, keep it running for years. All. Right so let's talk about attracting new customers that will obviously help us with the revenue piece but let's increase sales earlier you you, reference, that you know the the Internet has really hurt, your sales people you, know will, go online and they will price compared things it's gonna be really. Hard, for you to compete online and and continue, to operate kind of an e-commerce platform and so we, need your website to do something different, we need your website to tell the story to tell you about, the experience, we, need it to leverage. The fact that you have access to these amazing, waters. We, want to make known, as the place that you come to do this kind of fishing and that Bluff City outdoors, is where you go to get your stuff yeah I mean when, you were talking about what your competitive, edges and you're saying it's the trophy river catfish, and the blue cat I mean people type in trophy.
Catfish, For, example, as opposed to just fishing rods you know would be very cool if they pump good start winning that search for right I don't think the big but I know the big-box retailers are not buying those, kinds of search terms but we could own that space for you one. Of the concerns that we have is you know you, change, the name from Bluff City tackle, to Bluff City outdoors, right now the search engines are not, ranking. You as high as they may if you could, combine kind, of that search Authority into one brand or one business that seeing you as two different businesses i po, who's just to just clean that up so you can focus all the search authority, on Bluff. City outdoors, so, do you guys do anything in relationships with guides or do you do any guiding yourself or take people for their first fishing excursion we. Have guides that come to this yeah that we work with at the store but none actually, from. The store or are you getting the cut of that referral, is there we. Don't get a commission or anything we do, just. Send, people their way mm-hmm and are you booking the trips for them we're not booking that's, what I wouldn't look very able to do we took their phone number um that could be something you could try in this next season start, booking for them and taking a percentage you know if their trip the guide can meet their people at your shop we want that to be a natural conclusion that, they you know gear up at your shop and, there's three. Guides working, there you got three of them hopefully. We could talk them into doing that you, know in, the increasing, of sales price, your strategy, plays into that big so how, are you determining, kind, of that price point and is it based on competition, we. Try to make sure we're in the ballpark with everything this six ounce bank sinker, I think, we're about a dollar thirty on them yes, Bass Pro Shops is probably three dollars from. I'm. Sorry it's terrible but, the fact that it's less, significantly. Less I think it makes it, a little bit like maybe you're a sucker ballpark, is good but there are also some, products, that because. You are more, boutique that, you can afford, to go, outside of that a little bit and increase your margin if they wanted to go to a big box store they would be a best pro shop but they are not there in your store this is a specialty, item you, should be charging. More. Well. Look at that because, I think we need to we. Sell about 10,000, pounds of sinkers in yours though I mean if we raise their prices across the board in in the right spaces, and the right amount we could actually get, you in the black this. Is exciting because it feels like Bluff City has so many ways to grow revenue from, pricing, to taking better advantage of this world-class location, in the fishing world to, physically, making the shop look a little more well. Open. The, deluxe team will take charge of the branding and marketing finding, the best ways to tell the bait shop story, to, the most people Hilary. Will continue to work with them on operations. In increasing, margin on every sale then. We're hiring local, contractors, and working with scion physically, overhauling, the space it's. A lot but, if we do this right we, get to help a family spend, more of their lives together. Bluffs, City outdoors, is your classic bait, and tackle shop but they're running into some struggles, when you drive past the outside it looks like they're closed like the windows, have been boarded up and they're no longer in business definitely, needs a lot of work from the outside, I'd. Say this exterior is go this is our biggest task. So. We're gonna put, on a new roof for them and on the front we're gonna take out some of their shrubbery but. Just gonna spruce in the whole place up the outside is given their way of business the inside, I think is actually part of the experience, so that's why focus, on the outside is been so vital and the signings, too is confusing because there's two something yeah he's, got one over he's got one over there they, both have two different logos, I mean it there's no continuity here and then on Facebook they have this and it has a lot going on I think there's opportunity, to take what they started here and just simplify, it more we. Started playing around with it a little more of like a dynamic. Three-dimensional. Catfish, and he looks like he's like maybe like a little fierce you know he's got some personality, to him so, which one didn't, work gravitate. Towards he loved this one but he was drawn to this, color as the background so he brought that blue color over, here for the final logo. We're. Both that bathroom the, bathroom is bananas, gross. Got, to fix that. Guys. We have great news we've determined, that, we're gonna be able to redo, the bathroom. Within, budget. To. See how the women were excited. While. The deluxe team gets flustered a's brand and building ready to attract new anglers I'm, heading back to alter to check in on marks under the equation margin.
Have, You started. To think about race race we haven't done it yet and we, typically. Like to do that during, the offseason may, not be able to triple our priced organ at least try to go two and a half times yeah. Are you starting to see on the horizon that maybe, this business can support you not having to drive so far tour it seems like he's gonna be that way I've been going down there trying to buy some things from by hugging the knees down there and a few things are Whitney so I could, see myself not, working. But Felicia to give up a steady paycheck we're going to have to do more than just get, the business out of the red they, need to see real, profit, it's, time to explore those additional, sources of revenue we. Can do a lot for him online he currently has a website which is great, that's cool because it's half the businesses, don't but, it's very basic and although, people are buying from it I think there's an opportunity for him and for, us to tell his story better online the, fishermen don't want to go to the big-box stores and ask where the tourists, ago they want to ask a local and get, the tips from them so I think the tips and tricks section that. We kind of developed would be good well another unique service that he wants to add is the guide service, I think we're planning on just getting something that will allow them to see the schedules of all the guides as well as look at their time guys, will be booking a lot of the guy trips for you guys but you have to keep your schedules up today you got files out there right. Is there an opportunity to, sell any branded merchandise certainly. In store okay, if we figured out a couple of items that are popular, or that are needed for anglers, things, like a cooler. Something. Like that I think hats are always a great option especially if, you're outdoors the. Team is racing to put finishing touches on website and sway but, we're also conspiring. With Hillary to get the last piece of bluff city's brand in place she's. Back at home on a fishing trip with an ulterior motive, getting Whitney comfortable with being the face of the business you. Know I think Whitney rightfully so really, looks up to Hillary and Hillary has really mastered, social me yeah so I feel like me yeah Hillary kind of encouraged Whitney, like this is really gonna be valuable for your business, if you look at hashtag big catch if you look, at other irrelevant tags to fishing and catfish people love to, showcase their trophy. Fish and so mark, and Whitney they are outdoors, people we can tap into that and create some content that's like get, off line go fish. This, business has, a very, good opportunity. To put. Their blue catfish, channel, catfish on the map and to, bring people from all over the world to all no annoying. Everything. Is in place so we're making one last trip to the bait shop with a few surprises so up our sleeves to unveil the, new Bluff City outdoors. It's. Incredible, I love the color I love the lights the new roof it's a building to be proud of now instead of one that was just a grant building. And. The sign look at the sign. There's. So many different things that could happen with the sign but having the catfish, in it is awesome. Well everything out here looks some BZ let's go inside and check out through proven server check. It out we get the door for you oh. My. Gosh the lights makes such a difference yeah. Reiter's. Is wonderful, just the improved lighting is so much easier to see in here see, the colors of the bait yeah. We. Bet people just they'll stop in and say what, are you doing with it wonderful. I. Love it can I check out the bathroom, oh. My. Goodness what a difference in here. Don't. Have to worry about things sitting on the floor all around, thank, you I love it.
Okay. So we have been having a lot of fun with your marketing it's gonna be a great way to grow your business and bring in new customers and. We love working with you on this logo as you can see we added the catfish, and we, created this custom hook font on the end so instead, of having a serif and we actually added that hook icon, which really you know she needs to communicate kind, of bet the tackle the hooks the fishing I love that that looked really really good on t-shirts yeah. So. We knew, a variety. Of t-shirts, in different, sizes, but. You know we really feel like this badge icon works, so well on, merchandise. For, selling especially with all those out-of-town visitors oh, that, looks so good it's, nice and. I'm showing, you these products, in your new. Packaging. Also, thought it would be fun to put your logo on a, cooler. How. Cute, we have to make sure that the koozie works, so I think you want to take the first step who's it gonna be, yeah. Cheers. Okay. So you do a great job of promoting your events in facebook, events we would love for you to also come off them if your printed material yeah I, like that yes this, looks like a really legit, yeah. You, are so, also, another printed, piece would be that, you have the entire event. Tournament, calendar for the year these are great to keep right here on the counter. Actually. Alright. You wanna see what it looks like when you apply it to a website yeah, yeah they haven't seen this yet I'm excited to show it oh my, goodness oh. Oh. My. God I love, it see we're using all the fonts, and the colors and again that color palette from, your branding, this, will be a rotating, carousel right here this image it'll go through the we know Alton, we, know tracking we know fishing again communicating. That you have this, expertise. We added a tab that's called local, tips so we talked about you know what type of hooks work best for catfishing. How to choose the right sinker, for trophy catfishing, people are googling those same questions and. When they put, those search words in and are looking for it then your answer is going a beautiful segue yes. Search Authority will be a, big. Part of that so if people click on products. And there's multiple ways that they can get there. We. Have an. Equal, distribution between, items that you can only get in stored no ones that you can purchase online from, you so that we have a good balance between the two you have done some work to clean up the e-commerce site and we're linking to it that's an important part of your business too so the, next tab is a favorite, guy it's. Not exciting right away in the inventory we're communicating that, there's expertise, at play here and, this is my favorite part the organizer and me loves that we have checked guide availability. So you're helping one step, more, right so mark you work really hard on building this, calendar out so kind of what you're doing here by building this mark is a really great thing for the local industry those guys are pretty excited about it I passed. About. Us page, and. Was a very conscious, decision that, we wanted you to be front and center. And this, kind of puts you front and center not, only as the friendly face and the welcoming person but, the one person, here who knows her stuff not that everybody else doesn't of course she does. And on getting the right products, for the right price at the right time and the excellent, advice and you'll be sending them out for the best day that. You. Guys have. Made that look so, good and I'm so happy to see that I'm excited, on how that turned out you guys are really good that's all you I mean, this is just showcasing. What you already have you're, the meat of it the three of you here and what you're doing and how you're bringing this fishing community, together and continuing, to grow and be strong that's all you that. Was. That. Just made the store look that much more professional and. That's, something we needed in here really badly. That's ours. That's. Ours I. Love. It I love it that's not like an age thing oh no, now that I'm here I'll go forever use my sleeve that's. Endearing I. Didn't. Really realize, it until, Amanda. Presented, it on the website that, we. Really are those the. Experts in the area, all. Right so I have one, more surprise but. I need you to follow on the outside. You. Would love to really see you do events, and have things here, right on your parking lot so, we wanted to do something to, make that easier for you to do. Deluxe, they've brought some expertise, and knowledge due, to. The table for us and you. Know we're the ones who have to finish, it getting across the goal-line there's. A lot we got to get done and then touch with it but I definitely see, myself here in 30 years in front. Of the show it's, this isn't like a job this is a, job that you want a job that you was, standing.
Under Bluff Studios new tent I can't help but think about all the things that wouldn't, have happened if it weren't for the bait shop mark. Wouldn't, admit Felicia. Whitney. Wouldn't I found her called butch. Would be working at some big box and all the English who come to fish these waters would. Be shopping there instead. Of gathering here. This. Is what one small business can do and. It's why places, like Bluff City are, worth, fighting for I think. There's gonna be a strong enough legacy, them took the leaper Whitney and allow her I mean knowing that if she just keeps you. Know the. Momentum going everything. I've ever achieved. I've had to her my solid line not, love, with everything from, anybody so this is a kind of me, trying to do better for for, my kids. Lighthouse. Sounds, is a recording, studio run by a young and talented duo, we, started this together and. It together but an ambitious, expansion, has them risking it all we spent hundred grand total, probably an investment, and it could all go to nothing can the small business revolution team, push them over to home two. Weeks with no income, kiss adapt find, out if they have what it takes to get to the national stage. On. The next episode of small business revolution Main, Street. We. All love small businesses for their personal service and nowhere. Is that more true than a Bluffs of the outdoors visit. Deluxe comm backslash, Bluff City to, learn more about how the deluxe team used marketing, to help mark and family showcase. Their expertise, and local, know-how to, reel in new customers.