fbpx Brian Jones, co-owner of Playmakers in central Michigan, didn’t start out in retail. He started out as a runner, then as an accountant. When his MSU fraternity needed equipment for a philanthropy event, Brian went to the local running store in the mall to request a loaned clock and banner for the event. The turnout for the event was great, and Brian ended up with a part-time job at the running store. After graduation and two years in public accounting, Brian ended up back at that running store and has remained there ever since, helping to build Playmakers into one of the most respected athletic stores in the country.

1. Build a community and provide value.

Brian_Jones_Playmakers Playmakers doesn’t just sell athletic footwear and apparel — though they do, and they do it very well. The store also serves as a community hub. Playmakers hosts packet pickups for races, race director clinics to educate people how to put on a race, yoga classes, and clinics on running form. In addition, they host “Diva Nights” and events for groups ranging from high school teams to physicians. Brian explains that the outcome of involvement within the local culture is a thriving active community in the East Lansing area, which “get all these points of connectivity and plants those seeds. It attracts a lot of like-minded people.”

2. Give back to the community.

Playmakers’ business philosophy is community-oriented, and it’s evident. When the store’s founder, Curt Munson, found that most programs teaching and advocating for proper running form were too complicated, he created his own. Good Form Running involves four simple steps to improve running technique and avoid injury. When New Balance bought the trademark to the program, Playmakers used the money to fund the Playmakers Fitness Foundation. The foundation promotes charitable events in the community, including the donation of entry fees for St. Vincent’s patients who want to participate in local races.

3. Focus on customer education, not the sale.

When it comes to store operations, the focus, first and foremost, is on the customer. During our site visit, Kristin and I walked into the store and were greeted by associates who were friendly, informative, and (most impressively) not automatically trying to push us to make a purchase. When we asked Brian about how he measures employee success, his answer perfectly paralleled our experience: “We’re not salesy. We could be much more aggressive.” He went on to explain that the team’s primary goal is educating the customer. When a customer receives the right knowledge and answers to their questions, the sale will naturally follow. It’s evident that Playmakers prioritizes both the overall community and the individual customer, which in turn contribute to the business’s success. Check out the full case study here.