I have been overly cryptic in the last few posts about what I am doing, but I finally am willing to make my plans public. I am going to open a triathlon shop in Minneapolis in the next six to nine months (that's the schedule now anyway, things are bound to change.)
As part of putting my business plan together I am visiting some cities with large triathlon communities to talk to tri-shop owners about their experiences getting started and to see what I can learn from those who have gone before me. My first stop was Chicago. My second stop has been Seattle and next week I am heading down to San Diego.
I could bore you all with my concept, the brands I want to carry and junk like that, but that is generally uninteresting and pales in comparison to the crazy, serendipitous, coincidental contacts I have made through the few people I have talked with about this. The saga will be out of chronological order, but I really need to tell you about my unbelievable experience in Seattle over the last 48 hours.
I flew into Seattle on Thursday, early afternoon. The plan was to meet up with Jen and her husband, Duncan, mid-afternoon, see some sites around Seattle, do this "Underground Seattle" tour and then get some Vietnamese for dinner. Driving from the airport to Seattle is beautiful. It was cloudy and rainy (as is to be expected, I guess) but much warmer than when I left Minneapolis.
I was scheduled to visit two stores in Seattle and meet two FB/Twitter friends - Jen Huffman-Swift (AKA @ultragrrl) and Teresa Nelson and Mark Webb (AKA @tnmultisports.)
I got around Seattle surprisingly easily considering my complete lack of a sense of direction. My hotel was nice and right in the middle of the university area. I had a beautiful view of
I met up with Jen and her husband, Duncan. They drove me around town in the rockin' Element. Duncan is an endless font of Seattle trivia. It was really cool to have a full-on tour guide telling me genuinely interesting stuff about the city. Jen did a great job driving.
We headed down to Pioneer Square to take the "Underground Seattle Tour." Let me tell you, if you've been to Seattle (or not) and you haven't done this tour, you really should. It's not super long, but it's really interesting and you get to learn a ton about early Seattle and more recent history like the largest mass murder connected to a robbery in US history.
|Totem at Pioneer Square|
|Jen & Duncan|
|Under the sidewalks of Seattle|
|Skylight from sidewalk above|
|Creepy view into old bank|
|Old bank vault|
|Apparently this area is haunted.|
After the tour we went for Vietnamese. I love Vietnamese food, but we don't usually get out of our bubble to get it, so it was nice treat. During our conversation I found out Duncan had run his own retail store for awhile and it was great to hear some of the lessons he and Jen learned about retailing.
Jen and Duncan are great people and I had a fantastic time talking with them. They get added to the Christmas Card list (don't worry, we don't send out stupid letters, just a picture of our "adorable" kids.) Jen, email me your address (or not, if you're Jewish or Muslim or anti-Christmas card or just plain hate me now that you've met me. The latter happens more often than you'd think, so I'm OK with it.)
Friday was store visit day. I drove around a little while I waited for stores to open. I saw Pike Place Market - decided to just drive by as I imagine it's a little more fun or interesting to visit with someone. Drove by the first Starbucks, too. Then by the Space Needle and EMP. Again, way more interesting to visit with someone.
The first store I visited was Speedy Reedy. Won't bore you with the details. Brooke was very nice and extremely helpful. Then I hiked it out to Redmond to check out Mr. Crampy. Also, very nice and helpful. Speedy Reedy has been in business for, like, 10 years where as Mr. Crampy has been in business for, like, 10 months. It was interesting to be able to compare the two and to recognize where they are similar in their core business philosophies.
Jen had time, so I invited her to meet me at Mr. Crampy's and then we went out to lunch. We talked a little more about my business and some of the avenues I was pursuing. She really did a great job of playing devil's advocate - something that is considerably more valuable than a bunch of cheerleaders. Thanks for that.
I cut Jen loose and headed back to the hotel. The evening plans called for meeting up with Teresa and Mark at a dark track to witness a beer mile.
|Bunch of people I didn't know.|
|Same people - still don't know them.|
Then we went to a local bar with their 14 closest friends and had dinner and watched the beer run festivities continue. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard. Teresa, Mark and their friends are super inclusive and very funny. I had a fantastic time. (They probably think I'm super quiet, but my voice was so shot from a cold I battling that I could - and even now can - barely talk. That was probably all for the best since my words tend to get me in trouble.)
Teresa and Mark was super fun. Mark is very funny with a few beers and several vodka tonics in him. (How'd pacing your athlete on your bike go, buddy?) They also get added to the Christmas Card list (see disclaimer above.)
To learn about Saturday morning, read the post before this one.
All I have to say is I really like Seattle and it's people very much. The PNW is a wonderful place and I'll be back with the family sometime.
This week - San Diego.