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Jays Sporting Goods Turns 40 Wood n Water

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Jay's Sporting Goods turns 40! Jay's Sporting Goods, an active member of NSSF and whose president, Jeff Poet, has been recognized in the past with the SHOT Business Retailer of the Year Award, is celebrating its 40th anniversary, an accomplishment that served as the springboard for a feature article in the October 2011 edition of Woods-n-Water News.
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  M aybe the best measure bywhich to gauge the longevi-ty of Jay’s Sporting Goodsis one simple fact; that only the well-seasoned among us today roamingMichigan’s woods and fields and plying its vast acres of wetlands andwaterways can easily recall the daywhen Jay’s did not exist.As years and seasons pass, seem-ingly at times in the blink of our owneyes, it’s much easier to overlook,even take for granted, what four decades in business represents: gen-erations...lifetimes...even ‘traditions.’The story of Jay’s and how theMichigan businessinstitution grewover the past 40years to becomethe largest independent, family-owned outdoor retailer in theMidwest, perhaps in the country, isnothing if not compelling, and inspi-rational.Particularly so in view of statis-tics: that as few as 20 percent of  business startups make it past a year,or that under 30 percent of family-owned firms pass to second and thirdgenerations, fewer yet where thedeath of a founder occurs early on.All of which is true at Jay’sSporting Goods, which figurativelyat least has come a very long wayfrom where it all began, one man’sdream, in the trunk of an automobile.If it were a recipe, the Jay’s storywould include more or less equal parts of vision and drive, family andfaith, love of the outdoors and con-servation, tragedy and hardship,work ethic and success, not especial-ly in that order.“It would behard to rank all of that, because allof that put togeth-er is Jay’s” said Arlene Poet Yost, the71-year-old matriarch and still-activesecretary-treasurer of the Jay’s cor- porate family, when considering thatlist of ‘ingredients.’Still, for all of its success, nearly200 employees and a multi-million-dollar inventory at two locations,Jay’s continues to flourish and pro-mote itself to the masses based on‘the tradition of Jay’s,” and not on itssize.Incorporated in 1971 by Arleneand the late Jay Poet, the first Jay’sSporting Goods was, at the time, a purposeful next step in Jay Poet’svision, which was to create a one-stop, family-run sporting goodssuperstore that local outdoor enthusi-asts and travelers, alike, would sim- ply find too tempting to pass by.The Poets were in their late 20’swith two young boys, and the ven-ture was the successor to Jay’s Gun By   Jeff   Harrington Jay's   SportingGoods   turns 40! Jay's   Sporting   Goods   co -f  ounder   Arlene   Poet   Yost,   pictured   recentlyin   front   of   Jay's   the   company's   Clare   location.   Photo   courtesy:   BobGuiliani/Clare   Publishing   ultimateSlam ™ 2-7x33MM and 3-9x40MM Especially designed for BlackPowder RiflesReticle can be matched to 100or 150 grain loadsAlso works with 12 or 20gauge Sabot Slugs Specifications:ãReticle: SA.B.R. ™ ãFinish: Matte & SilverãLens Coating: STD Multi CoatãAdj. 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Offer Expires 11-1-11    O   C   T   O   B   E   R   2   0   1   1  -   W   N   W    N   E   W   S 28  Shop, which Jay had established in1968 with a more short-term goal,that of earning enough cash to fundhis own insatiable passion for hunt-ing, shooting and fishing.But the story behind Jay’s reallybegan even earlier, in the early- tomid-1960s, as impossible as the sce-nario is to imagine in today’s world.Legend has it, and there are stillthose (Arlene among them) who willconfirm, that Jay Poet honed hisentrepreneurial skills while buying,selling and trading guns, ammo andreloading supplies from the trunk of his car. He did business in his rou-tine travels, which included hisemployment then at Dow Corning innearby Midland. No federal firearms license, noinsurance, no background checksrequired, such an enterprise todaysurely would attract the attention of awary public, not to mention all man-ner of authorities.“Of course, the laws were a lotdifferent then than they are today,”Arlene acknowledges. “It was sort of an on-demand thing. If someonewanted something, he’d throw it inthe trunk and take it in (to work)with him.”Jay eventually obtained a salestax license allowing him to buy mer-chandise at wholesale, and the opera-tion grew, slowly at first, to fill asmall, one-car garage at the Poet’shome on Clare’s 7th Street. Whensurgery to repair a work injury lefthim recuperating at home for amonth in the summer of ‘68, he began to invite customers to visit hisgarage and never looked back.Jay and Arlene spent nearlyevery waking hour working, promot-ing the business and raising sons Jeff and John Jay, or J.J. as he came to becalled. Jay Poet is said to have regu-larly put in 80- and 90-hour-plusweeks in the garage, seldom goinginto the house even long enough for dinner.Arlene did a bit of everything,from keeping the garage and thosewho came to frequent it suppliedwith sandwiches, to helping withsales when Jay was away, to keepingthe books. Evenings were spent preparing, hand-addressing and send-ing sales fliers to a steadily growinglist of mail order clients near and far.The inventory continued to grow, tothe point where some who were cus-tomers of that era still talk aboutside-stepping their way throughtight, narrow passageways stackednearly to the ceiling and beyond.Jeff Poet, who has long sinceguided the company’s growth as its president, remembers fondly his first job in the tiny, garage-based Jay’sGun Shop.Jay was a robust, barrel-chestedman, “a big guy,” Jeff recalls, too bigto fit into the overhead attic opening.So it became Jeff’s job when neces-sary to climb the pull-down set of steps into the overhead and returnwith a particular make and model of firearm, the location to which he’d Jay’s   Turns   40   next   pageBrothers   Jeff   (left)   and   J.J.   Poet   represent   the   second   of   three   gener - ations   (and   counting)   making   Jay’s   the   largest   independent,   family - owned   outdoor   retailer   in   the   Midwest.   Jeff   Harrington   photo   MOR ARCHERY MOR ARCHERY MOR ARCHERY  www.morarchery.com ã 586.566.7991 47979 Van Dyke ã Shelby Twp., MI 48317 Between 21 & 22 Mile Road on West Side of Van Dyke PRO SHOP&RANGEPRO SHOP&RANGEPRO SHOP&RANGE DS-3800InvasionDream Season B   OWS BY PSE, B   OW    T   E   CH,D    ART   ON, DI    A   MOND, Q    UEST,STR   OTHERS &MORE!B   OWS BY PSE, BOW    T   E   CH,DARTON, DI    A   MOND, Q    UEST,STR   OTHERS &MORE!B   OW    S BY PSE, B   OW    TE   CH,DART   ON, DI    A   MOND, QUEST,ST   ROT   HERS &MORE!   4 0  Y  AR D  I N D O O R R  AN G E  W I T H   AN E LE V  AT I O N   AR E  A AV  AI L AB LE !  Visit Us Now On Facebook  WE SERVICEALLBOWS INCLUDINGRECURVES, CROSSBOWS& COMPOUNDSWE SERVICEALLBOWS INCLUDINGRECURVES, CROSSBOWS& COMPOUNDS Stryker 380    O   C   T   O   B   E   R   2   0   1   1  -   W   N   W    N   E   W   S 29   been given careful and specific direction.Soon, Jay’s system of mentally cataloguing stock would expand to include a barn two doors downthe street, where his parents lived after relocatingfrom their farm outside of town.“My dad always had a great memory, alwaysknew where everything was,” says Jeff.But eventually, doing business in a residentialneighborhood attracted attention of more than justcustomers. City officials cited Jay for a zoningviolation after a neighbor had complained, havingtried unsuccessfully to start his own home-based business.Looking back, Arlene says that chapter in their history was a blessing in disguise.Soon after, Jay purchased a site two blocksaway, razed an existing home and, by 1974,opened his first commercial storefront, 8,400square feet with 16 parking spaces, on E.5th St.With what probably felt then like all the roomthey’d need to grow the family business, the Poetsadded fishing tackle and equipment, then clothingand, as bow-hunting took off in popularity, anarchery department.By the late1980s that store, too, had been out-grown, and Jay and Arlene Poet took the next step.They bought a 29-acre hayfield just a couple milesnorth of downtown Clare on Old 27 near the US-10/127 interchange, where ground was broken in1987. On July 1, 1988 the Poet family opened thesprawling 72,000 square foot store that still beck-ons us there today.But they did so with heavy hearts and no smalldegree of uncertainty as the future.The founder, the man at the helm, had beenlosing strength as construction neared completion,and on the day before the opening occurred, JayPoet was diagnosed with cancer, to which hewould succumb a mere nine months later in thespring of ‘89.Faced with a huge new debt and a small armyof new employees, Arlene and her sons, together with their own families by then, convened for thefirst of what would become weekly family meet-ings, seeking each other’s strength and the will toovercome the setback. But it did not seem to beenough, and Arlene eventually arrived at a fateful,and faithful, decision, calling in a higher power.It was the day that “I gave this whole shootin’match to the Lord,” that turned the tide, sherecalled during a recent interview.“When Jay died it was as though we’d lost thetrunk to our tree,” she said. We were all terrifiedand statistics said we couldn’t do it. We neededhelp, and we did depend on the Lord.The family’s involvement at Brown CornersUnited Brethren in Christ Church, near Harrison,has been central to several factors in the Poets lifeover the past 25 or so years.It was there that Jeff Poet met and later mar-ried his wife, Kathy, and where Arlene would later  be introduced to and marry Jim Yost in 1991, after his first wife had also died two years prior.Kathy Poet had been convinced by Jay himself to pass up a job offer at Dow and join the family business while she and Jeff were dating. As Jay’shealth was deteriorating, Kathy moved fromcashier into the marketing department, where shequickly learned her father-in-law’s best secrets tosuccess.Her efforts were instrumental in helping tocontinue the company’s growth, including theopening of a second location in 2000, just off I-75exit 279 in Gaylord.Sorrow and loss would strike the family again,however, just one year ago, when Kathy lost her own fight against a recurrence of breast cancer.She died in Oct., 2010, at age 56, a day before her and Jeff’s 23rd wedding anniversary.Rather than bitterness, however, Kathy andthose around her found even more strength in theface of her mortality, and she remained active inthe business, the church and the community for aslong as she was able to.Again, says Arlene, “Our faith is what got usthrough.”She noted that Kathy had made it her mission,especially near the end of her life, minister towhomever she saw in need, hoping to “take asmany people as she could to Heaven with her.”The company’s success most certainly has not been hurt, either, by the sense of commitment anddesire to give back to those who have helped sup- port them, a philosophy under which Jay Poet began operating years ago.Jay’s is one of the biggest benefactors of con-servation and other non-profit causes anywhere,including everything from Archery -In -TheSchools to hunters safety, to most every conserva-tion group imaginable.Bob Garner, an icon of the state’s outdoorsscene in his own right as former longtime co-hostof MUCC’s Michigan Out-of-Doors TVamongother things, credits Jay’s as the biggest reason thetelevision program returned to air in 1992 after ahiatus of several years.“They were the main underwriters,” Garner said. “If not for Jeff, Kathy and Arlene, I’m sureMichigan Out-of-Doors would not have returnedto production.”For the past ten years Jays has sponsored anannual fundraiser at the Clare store for Mid-Michigan Community College. Total proceeds of nearly $900,000 so far are likely to surpass $1million by the time next year’s event is held inApril.“They’re obviously very successful, but remainvery classy and very humble people, Garner saidof the Poet family.“They just do so much, and it’s all unsung.”Reminders of their roots help keep the twoPoet brothers grounded and focused, too, accord-ing to J.J. Poet, who was just a toddler in the com- pany’s early days but took to the gun departmentas a teen and serves now as the company’s gun buyer and vice-president.“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heardsomeone say, ‘I bought my first gun from your dad back in the ‘70s.’” They’ll recall what monthit was, the make and model, and they just want toshare that memory with us. It always means a lot.”“We know we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’tfor our customers, first, and our employees,” Jeff Poet said. “We really have been blessed.”As for the future, Jeff and J.J. Poet said theyhave been approached on several occasions bythose interested in having them add a third loca-tion.“Everyone wants a Jay’s,” said J.J.“While Jeff adds that they always view such proposals with an open mind, there are no such plans in the foreseeable future.“Just the cost of stocking a new store alone isastronomical,” Jeff said. He noted that currentemphasis has been more on extending the compa-ny’s reach through expanded e-commerce opportu-nities.The company’s milestone was marked with a40th anniversary sale at both locations in earlySeptember.  Jay   ’s Turns 40 Years Old: from   page   29   The all-new Octagon blindfeatures eight total windows.Four of the windows are archerywindows built into the corners.The other four windows, whichare built into the side wall, canbe ordered as gun, archery, or crossbow windows.Corner-to-corner archeryshooting is easy in the newOctagon Series byShadow Hunter. Another new blind fromShadow Hunter:shadowhunterblinds.com 1-888-446-4868 “Your Easy Way Up” 5x5 or 6x6 Octagon Archery    O   C   T   O   B   E   R   2   0   1   1  -   W   N   W    N   E   W   S 30

Trab.Estética (2)

Jan 16, 2018
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