By Paul Peavy
It happened again last Saturday! I was standing in a long line at a very popular grocery store that makes the most addictive chicken tender subs our adolescents have ever known.
It was in between sessions of a swim meet and finally I was about to be next in line when I heard one of the deli workers say, “I wish they would tell us when they have big swim meets because then at least we would know we were going to be swamped!”
I couldn’t agree with her more! If you are putting on an athletic event and making sure every detail on the field is lined up in such finite detail, why wouldn’t you see to it that those that supply your athletes’ and families’ needs are made aware that there are locust-like athletes that are likely to decimate your sports drink aisles or clog your drive through lanes?
My wife and I have seen this happen at big box stores and grocery stores located near triathlons, where one day you would walk down the sports drink aisle and have your pick and the next day there might as well have been tumbleweeds rolling down the shelves.
It is very frustrating to athletes and families to not have these basics available and can definitely affect performance to not have these items available.
If your athlete has to go an extra five miles or three extra stops, he or she might not check in to your meet or tournament in the best of moods and, without you even knowing it, they will share their frustration with other athletes.
So, how do you raise the warning flag? I would designate one person to visit grocery stores, big box stores, fast food chains, and restaurants within a five-mile radius and present the manager with a flyer. (BONUS: Maybe an opportunity to find a sponsorship?)
On this flyer I would have the dates and times of the event as well as the age and number of participants and family members expected.
If you know what the needs and habits of your particular athletes and families, put that at the bottom of the flier as well. Your flyer really needs to get into the hands of the manager and not someone who might not really care or understand what impact your event could have.
A couple of days before the event I would follow up with a phone call to each manager to make sure you have done your part to warn them. At that point, it’s up to them to manage their supplies accordingly.
By taking these simple steps, you could build a very positive relationship with business neighbors in your host city. Trust me, a manager loves to hear from his district manager that he has done a great job of bumping up the numbers and garnering positive feedback from his customers at the same time.
Paul Peavy, www.paulpeavy.com, is a licensed mental health therapist who uses humor to get folks to lighten up. He, and his wife Sherrie, participate in triathlons, are parents of a youth athlete and are also involved in planning sports events.