There’s little doubt that the explosive growth of online sellers has given local retailing a run for its money. Still, while big sellers such as Amazon can be tough competitors, they can’t completely drive traditional brick-and-mortar stores out of business. That’s because local retail outlets have several inherent advantages that the big guys can never match.
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Harold Hunt, owner of SuperATV in Madison, Indiana, is a motorsports enthusiast, and he instills that same passion in the people he hires. They aren’t just clerks; they go out on the weekends and ride so that they can come back to the shop and relate their product knowledge and experience to customers.
Spartan 4x4, which caters to the youth off-road market, was founded in 2015 by 17-year-old Robert Bowden III out of his parents’ garage in Atlanta. In 2017, Bowden relocated to a 600-sq.-ft. office in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Now 21 and an entrepreneurship major at Western Kentucky University, he expanded yet again in March to a 1,000-sq.-ft. facility with six employees and moved to a 6,000-sq.-ft. facility in July, which houses an office, a shop and a showroom—all under one roof. We recently interviewed Bowden about his progress.
Del Amo Motorsports’ humble beginnings can be traced back to 1985 in a 6,000-sq.-ft. facility in Redondo Beach, California, offering a single product line. The company now features multiple product offerings across a wide spectrum of machines in four locations throughout Southern California, with the original one now encompassing 45,000 sq. ft.
When the story of Ingenuity Fab & Speed (IFS) began five years ago, Joshua Boucher was building chassis for a local shop. Like many, he was creating custom designs and fabricating parts for each job, pouring his creativity into them. His parents, aftermarket veterans, convinced him that he was giving his genius away. He realized that he had everything he needed to take ownership of his abilities and work for himself, so he incorporated IFS as an LLC in Montgomery, Texas, and hired his parents soon thereafter.
Based in Rockledge, Florida, Dare 2B Different! Enterprises is a small operation consisting of owner Stephen Saporito, his wife Zetty Gamboa-Saporito, and fulltime graphic designer Joseph Stuller. Starting his company almost as an afterthought in 2005, Saporito has since grown it into a thriving retailer and manufacturer earning seven figures a year retailing a carefully selected stock of OEM-replacement parts for a variety of applications. In addition, he produces his own Glassskinz-brand rear-window valances. It’s a testament to how far belief in an idea, long hours, perseverance and a willingness to understand underserved markets can take a business. In this interview, SEMA News asked what he does differently.
Many entrepreneurs will tell you that they started from the ground up. In the case of Darren Robinson, that means everything you might hope it would. Born in England, he traveled across the ocean and got married in the United States, but he hit a bad patch in the late ’00s when his wife left him and he became homeless. His only possession of value was a decade-old Pontiac Firebird. He was stuck in a foreign country with no home and nor job. The year was 2010, and the American heartland was in deep recession. This is the story of how he persevered to build a successful retail operation.
Now in its sixth year, Race Fittings Solutions is an award-winning speed shop catering to drag racing and street-rod enthusiasts. Headquartered in Hialeah, Florida, the four-employee retail operation offers a case study in how smaller brick-and-mortar retailers can succeed. SEMA News recently caught up with James O’Neal, owner of Race Fitting Solutions, to find out how he does business and what has enabled him to compete successfully against online retailers.
When the first Galpin car dealership opened in 1946, the vision was to provide excellent customer service and a unique, impactful buying experience to the greater Los Angeles area. Now, decades later, the Galpin name still encompasses its surrounding community as part of its core identity, but it offers far more to its customers than just a place to buy a new car.
In 1971, Hank Feldman’s family purchased Big House of Chrome in Inglewood, California. When his parents divorced, he had to delay college to help his mother run the business. Under Hank’s leadership, working with his mom and brother, the business grew. In 1992, however, three of their 10 stores were burned, others looted, during the L.A. riots. The Feldmans’ business was $4 million in debt and in no position to rebuild and pay the money back. Ultimately, through smart business and perseverance, Feldman and his company survived.