Friday, December 7, 2012

About ACME Closing The Doors

Just a few days ago we received the sad news.  Our local Tri Shop is closing its doors!

I was in total shock and disbelief.

My very first contact with the world of triathlons was at ACME Multisports just a few days into 2008.  I remember walking in the doors this particular Saturday afternoon and having one of the owners, Mark Evans, spend more than a couple of hours with me.  He answered, very patiently I may add, every question I had.  I know some of them seemed a bit elementary and maybe bizarre, but nonetheless he answered them all.  I returned a couple of days later and purchased my first bike.  Thanks to Mark, I entered the world of triathlons.

I cannot remember a time during the past four years when I didn't have a question or two or twenty that Alan Curtis (another one of the owners) or his staff did not take the time to answer for me.  If I were to calculate the amount of money, and time, I spent inside their store, I'm sure I would surprise myself.  A quick summary shows that we bought three bikes and at least 10 pair of shoes (mine, wife's and daughter's combined).

But I guess that was not enough to help keep them open.

I am not sure that the triathlon community in Middle Tennessee is aware of the void that will be left when ACME closes their doors.

I cannot remember a local event where ACME was not involved in one way or another.  It seems like whenever anyone planned a race, a ride, whatever, their first contact for support was ACME, and they were  always there.  I look at my race bibs and so many of them have their logo in the background.

And how about sponsorships?  Just about every tri team or club within a hundred mile radius was supported by ACME.  Not just with sponsorship fees but with great discounts to members. 

And lets talk race support.  ACME was always there with their bike repair trailer, pumping tires, replacing parts, getting everyone ready to race.

I understand the business side of the decision, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept.  I understand that no matter how hard they tried, sales were not there.  In an era of Internet competition, independently owned and operated business like Allen's and Mark's have a tough go at it.  They cannot compete in price with the faceless business promising a cut price and two day delivery.

I am an avid supporter of locally owned and operated business.  I fight on their behalf on a daily basis.  I see posts on facebook of someone asking for recommendations of where to buy this, that or the other thing, and it annoys me to no end when most recommendations are directed towards Internet sites.

We need to take a step back and ponder a bit.  Where are we going to go get our tri questions (equipment or otherwise) answered in a manner that only ACME could?  Where are we going to go to get our races and events supported and sponsored in a way that only ACME did?  I'm just not sure.

I hope that we have learned some sort of a lesson here.  Sure, ACME may not have been able to compete (in prices) with those faceless Internet sites, and ultimately they fell victim to this but it goes deeper than just the few bucks we saved. How many of those Internet companies where there when you crossed the finish line?  When you finished your first race?  When you struggled with your Ironman training?

When you spend your money in the Internet, remember that NO taxes are contributed to your local economy and specifically your schools and that NO Internet supplier provides employment to your next door neighbor.

To Allen, Mark and the rest of the ACME staff... We will miss you!  And Thank YOU!