Birth of Soccer United - Inaugural blog by co-owner Brooke Macdonald
When my brother Darby and I established the SOCCER UNITED football supplies shop (at 137 Alexandra St, Hamilton) last November it was something of a leap of faith.
We don't have a retail background as such. However we are Hamilton businessmen who have built successful enterprises such as Research Motors and RFM Rentals. We know what we know, but also know what we don't know and in that regard we have really appreciated advice from those who do have expertise.
So in this debut blog I thought I would start by giving a little background to the creation of SOCCER UNITED and the philosophies that have driven it.
With the demise of The Soccer Shop in Hamilton last year we saw there was going to be a gap in the market and we looked into what the opportunities might be.
Firstly I should to make it clear we are not "The Soccer Shop-Lite" and we weren't trying to benefit from their demise. We were sad when they made the decision to liquidate, because we know from a business person's perspective that is a really hard decision to make.
But sometimes outside forces dictate the response, and a combination of supply issues and two seasons of Covid meant the market had dried up really quickly.
Now we are testing the waters again. Initially we just set up for the Christmas market, then with support from Lotto and Puma and backing from our landlord, we got more supplies in. So now we are heavily invested and giving it a proper nudge
And for us, it is now nose-to-the-grindstone time.
Our interest in football can be traced back to being brothers kicking around in the backyard when we were four or five. At the time we had been exposed to football through it being the heyday of New Zealand making the World Cup Finals in Spain in 1982. The whole country was gripped by football fever.
By the time we were six or seven, it was Big League Soccer on the TV on Sundays in the mid-1980s that captivated us.
I became a life-long Reds (Liverpool) fan because of the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Phil Neal and Bruce Grobbelaar and have been ever since. (Darby is harder to pin down on his allegiances in that he seems to change them from time to time - but he can explain that himself in a future blog.)
Anyway, that really generated my interest in the game. I went on to play for Melville United for a few seasons - while Darby has since ended up playing for Melville for about three decades.
Then my love for the game was re-invigorated all over again when my daughter Iona (now 12) started playing. I have since managed or coached her teams for the past 6-7 years, served on the Northern United committee, and been a club sponsor.
So Darby and I like the whole package with football. We play the game, we love watching the game and we support the game.
With our other businesses it has never just been about marketing and business for personal gain. We have always been big on giving back to a certain extent and have used our relative success with Research Motors and RFM rentals to assist a variety of community groups. Obviously the sport we love has been a large part of that.
At the moment we are finding further dimensions to the sport we love. For instance, I particularly love working in the shop on Saturdays because there never seems to be more than two degrees of separation with any customer.
When someone walks through the door the chances are that you know them, know the club they play for, or know somebody who knows them. Hamilton is not that big and our football community is even smaller.
You get to engage with customers about things like what position they play, left foot or right foot. It's all the little things you won't get from other outlets.
At SOCCER UNITED we have time to connect with the young footballer in particular and show them the full range of accessories. And parents are really receptive to that, because quite often they are not sure what is going on, football-wise.
Our other emphasis at SOCCER UNITED is on service. In recent weeks we have had a lot of people in Covid isolation, where we have dropped products off on their doorstep, because otherwise there has been no way they could have got them.
And we are happy to do that if we are in a position to do so. We want to make sure people are looked after, because the bottom line is, we want SOCCER UNITED to be "your gateway to the beautiful game".
Yours in football,