Sports Plus

Sports Plus

<b>Owner: </b>

Bruce Merriman

<b>Short Bio: </b>

Born and raised in Northern Virginia, I got involved in my first business, a small pool hall, right out of high school while also working a full time job. This whet my appetite for owning my own business. Leaving the pool hall and my job behind, I left to do my military duty. While serving in Europe, I marveled at the small, family run businesses and decided that someday that would be me. Returning home, I resumed my full time career but continued dabbling in various hobbies/businesses.

In my late twenties, a friend introduced me to bowling. I immediately became obsessed with the game/sport. I considered pursuing some type of career in bowling but because of the limited income potential, elected the security of an 8–5 career. I never lost the attraction and continued to be involved as a competitor on a part-time basis.

<b>Why did you choose this particular business: </b>

Toward the end of my office career, I began thinking about my retirement years. After years of working to provide a necessary service, I wanted to do something fun. A friend opened Sports Plus, a small bowling pro shop, in Springfield but quickly discovered he would need a business partner. He was the technical expert but lacked the business expertise. Another friend and I bought in. Jointly, we were a success.

Two years later, we acquired Carmen Don Pro Shop in Alexandria. This acquisition included a trophy business. Both businesses continued to grow and a few years later, we spun off the trophy business to one of the original three owners. He left the pro shop business to pursue the trophy business.

Three years later, the other partner sold me his interest so he could move to New York and manage a group of pro shops for another friend. I became the sole owner.

At that time, we were located in Foxchase Shopping Center. In 1997 the opportunity presented itself for us to buy a shop in Pickett Center. We bought, we moved, and we continue to grow in this our permanent home.

<b>What have you learned from being in business: </b>

Being self employed is definitely the way to go. I typically end up working more hours than I ever did as an employee but the satisfaction cannot be matched. With input from my staff, I get to decide what direction the business is going to take. We get to decide what project or program our business is going to support. We get the opportunity every day to help someone, from beginner to pro bowler, have more fun in their life. Everyone on my staff has a passion for bowling, so we all get the opportunity to make a living doing something we enjoy.

<b>Advantages of operating a business in Alexandria: </b> The location is convenient. The business community seems to be more stable. Most of my business neighbors have been around for years. Everyone I ever worked with at City Hall goes out of their way to help the business community get through the red tape necessary to open and operate a business.


Jim Lewis

<b>Short bio: </b>

I was born in Washington, D.C., and live in Waldorf, Md. I have spent my entire career in just about every occupation available in the bowling industry. I left college to pursue my dream of becoming a successful player in the Professional Bowlers Association.

<b>Why did you choose this particular business? </b>

The business chose me. In pursuing my dream as a professional bowler, I was noticed as a hard working young bowler, who would work well in the pro shop. Over the years my skills in the pro shop workplace have grown to match or exceed my abilities in pursuing a professional bowling career. There is great uncertainty in having to perform for a paycheck in a sporting environment with many variables. Therefore, I have chosen over time to cut back on the bowling tournaments so that I may help in providing unique service to our customers.

<b>Description of services and products: </b>

We sell fun. We have a large staff comprised of all age groups and bowling skill levels. We offer a full line of — in stock — bowling balls, bags, shoes, and accessories. Whether you’re looking for a fun bowling ball like a Washington Redskins bowling ball or the latest professional equipment you saw on the Pro Bowlers Tour, we probably have it in stock. Need a new bowling bag or bowling shoes, we have dozens to choose from. We’re open seven days a week for our customer’s convenience. At Sports Plus, our customer is King/Queen.

<b>Key staff: </b>

Roger Tarr, Mike Herman, Tim Stanton, Larry Jones, Mark Spires, Mike Sinek

<b>Professional affiliations/associations</b>

Bruce Merriman, Nations Capital Area Bowling Association Hall of Fame

Jim Lewis, NCABA Hall of Fame, PBA member, Ebonite International PBA Staff

Roger Tarr, NCABA Hall of Fame

Mike Sinek, Roto Grip Amateur Staff

Mark Spires, PBA member