2009-08-22 / Outdoors

South Park Supply celebrates fifth year in business

Scott Whitehead of Featherman Creations Professional Fly Tying demonstrated his skill during South Park Supply's 5th Anniversary Sale and Customer Appreciation Day on Aug. 15. The store also hosted Bob Wagner of Top Calls, who will return for a two-day seminar in September. Scott Whitehead of Featherman Creations Professional Fly Tying demonstrated his skill during South Park Supply's 5th Anniversary Sale and Customer Appreciation Day on Aug. 15. The store also hosted Bob Wagner of Top Calls, who will return for a two-day seminar in September. South Park Supply is marking its fifth anniversary by renewing its commitment to its customers, who've been the key to the store's success.

Located at 219 East Third Street in Emporium, South Park Supply is owned by Sam and Kim Artman, with lots of help and support from their daughter, Erika Brown.

As a family-owned business, South Park Supply specializes in customer service.

"Without the people who walk through our doors every day, we wouldn't have a business," says Kim. "What we have on our shelves doesn't matter if it isn't what people want."

So the staff talks to customers, listens to their needs and does its best to bring them what they want. They acknowledge that some things happen faster than others.

"Sometimes it is a slow process, but I think we have done a lot in the store over the last five years," Kim adds. "We will continue to listen and add and adjust what is being added to the store to meet the needs of those who come through the doors."

The Artmans are frank about the fact that, when they first purchased the building more than five years ago, they thought they knew exactly which direction to go in.

"We quickly found out our ideas weren't exactly the same as the public's. That is why we feel it is so important to listen and be flexible," noted Kim.

There's more to South Park Supply than what can be seen; the store can order many products that people aren't aware they carry because of the lack of display areas. Items such as Armstrong ceilings and flooring, carpeting, interior and exterior doors, roofing materials including shingles and metal roofing, windows -- even lumber and many other building supplies can be ordered for those special projects.

"We have thousands of products available for our customers," acknowledged Kim.

Based on customers needs, new products are added monthly to the hardware side of the store. There's always something new to look at.

"We're teased by some of our customers for moving things around all the time, but that is part of bringing in fresh new things," Kim explained.

South Park Supply recently partnered with Scott and Marina Whitehead, from Featherman Creations, to add fly tying supplies and tools in the Sporting Goods Room. The merchandise is quickly outgrowing that room, so the owners plan to expand to another part of the building by next fall.

Last year they added a "country gift" section to the hardware store and it quickly out grew its space. So, in response to the customers, that line has been moved into another location on 541 East Allegheny Avenue.

"Touches of Country' will be opening soon and we will be looking forward to seeing you there for your gift and home décor needs," noted Kim.

One of the most unique aspects of South Park Supply is its diversity and wide variety of products available.

"Where else can you stop in and buy the nuts and bolts for your project and the worms to fish after the work is done?" Kim asks.

Recently the owners decided to stop trying to modernize the look of the building. Instead, they opted to return to "old times" by adding chalk board signs, a place to relax on the deck, flowers, yard decorations -- just a homey feeling. They've found that people really like that part of the store, often bringing friends to see the outside. The Artmans enjoy this aspect of the business because it gives us a chance to visit with their customers and friends feel comfortable just coming in to "sit for a spell" and relax.

Kim says they developed a motto this past month: "Take time to smell the lilacs."

"There is a story behind that and you will have to read our August newsletter, available in our store or through a mailing list, to hear the full version. I know, it sounds like a crazy motto for a hardware/sporting goods store, doesn't it?"

In recognition of their fifth anniversary, South Park Supply recently hosted a Customer Appreciation Day. Special visitors included Bob Wagner of Top Calls and Scott Whitehand from Featherman Creations Professional Fly Tying, along with his brother, Curt Whitehead. The men shared their skills and information and answered customer questions. Wagner will be on hand again for a two-day seminar on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12, at a location to be announced. He'll also be doing laser engraving on various products on Sept. 12.

The owners' favorite part of their operation is the customers have been so supportive - along with "the craziness that goes along with running a business."

"You have to like what you do to be in business," Kim observed. "Every day is different and you never know what is going to happen when you start your day. Our lives have changed in every aspect since beginning this venture five years ago and we can't wait to see what the next five brings."

Kim, her husband and their daughter want to thank everyone for their support, patience and kindness over the past five years and look forward to seeing visitors every day: "stop in and sit a spell!"

Hours at South Park Supply are Sunday, 10am to 3pm; Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 p m; and Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, call the store at 486-5815 or email southparksupply@zitomedia.net.

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