Working Persons Store In Lakeville

Working Person’s Store PLAN 2001-2005

Working Person’s Store business plan for the years 2001-2005 is intended to become the official document used by company leaders to understand the business, manage the business, develop new company policy and update existing materials. Attempting a macro reading of the entire plan can be overwhelming.  Each section is intentionally comprehensive and written to be stand-alone.

Frequent plan updates are recommended. Updates make it easier through time to identify areas of strength, spot signs of weakness, pinpoint needs which might otherwise be overlooked, identify opportunities early and most importantly, set a workable strategy to achieve the necessary business goals.

As we enter our second five-year business cycle, we do so with the need to continually develop new ideas, try new ways to do things and test new services and products.  Unlike the first five years, this business plan is based on hard earned knowledge and experience.

The original V&J shoe repair and new footwear sales business was purchased by Denmar in July 1995 from Virgil and Joanne (V&J) Waltz whose business was located within the Broadmore Shopping Center located at Ireland and Miami roads in South Bend, IN.

At the time, Denmar leadership wanted to cross-sell between V&J and the other Denmar based businesses: Mary’s Resale, Mary’s Furniture Stripping Co. and to share existing leadership and back office functions and overheads.

The Waltz’s V&J business was primarily focused on shoe repair with a small amount of in-store and outside-industrial footwear sales. During the last week of July 1995, the Waltz shoe repair equipment and footwear inventory was relocated to Denmar’s 307 South Michigan Street store located in Lakeville, IN. The new Lakeville V&J Shoe Sales and Repair Shop opened for business on August 1, 1995.

Lakeville, Indiana-  Complex Square Footage

The Lakeville buildings are much larger than they might appear when driving past.  An often heard phrase from customers entering the store for the first time is how big the store is compared to  how it appears from the street.

Working Person’s Store (WPS) is a work clothing, accessory and footwear product and service company.  In the communities we serve, core inventory and services include: retail work clothing, footwear, accessories, mail order work clothing and footwear and expert shoe repair.

Within many communities surrounding Lakeville, there are many potential customer groups who do not have either easy access to economically priced, quality footwear, clothing and accessories. Since these products are not locally available, they must drive considerable distances to acquire them.

WPS seeks to enhance the quality of life for its customers and to impact their lives for the better.  We believe the quality of the work clothing and footwear we provide makes a direct impact on a person’s quality of life. Whether one is shopping our retail location or working in one of the manufacturing/industrial companies we serve with the Industrial Shoe Mobile, customers can be assured of prompt, friendly service.  They will find WPS employees to be professional and technically competent.

We have identified the market need and desire to become the best possible quality work clothing and footwear provider for these communities.

A True Shopping Experience.

As V&J began serving the public on August 1, 1995, it did so from a zero customer base.  The business lacked knowledge of what customers wanted in work clothing and footwear, proven back-office practices, when and where to advertise. All in all it was a bottoms up learning experience.  One thing we knew early on however was the importance of providing an interesting shopping experience. To accomplish this required identifying and setting up trade terms with a number of different work clothing , footwear and accessory suppliers.

There isn’t a local big box or independently owned retail clothing or footwear store that carries the array of work clothing, footwear and accessories WPS does. When all is said and done, WPS wants to be known for friendly, personalized, dependable service, reliable products, fair prices, an easy location to get to, great product selection, professional facilities and good parking.

Long-Term Growth Challenge

A long-term and continuing growth challenge continues to be in getting the word out that the store is a great place to frequent. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not believe a great store can exist in a small town. Fortunately the business has continued to grow and expand since its inception  August 1, 1995.

Business Name Change

Slowly the business name is being changed to Working Person’s Store. The change is needed as we have learned from customers that they either don’t relate to the V&J name (don’t know what it means) or mishear it as B&J, etc.

Business Segments

Although transparent to the public, Working Person’s Store comprises five different businesses units each with the growth potential to become a stand-alone operating division within its own right. During the past 5.5 years (1995-2000) developing these units has taken a significant amount of time, energy and financial investment. The difficulty in focusing effectively on so many things at one time did contribute to unnecessary confusion, a misunderstanding of overall goals by team members and a significant financial loss.

Retail – Cash & carry work clothing, footwear, accessory and shoe repair.

Retail Industrial Sales – Credit terms to industrial/manufacturing customers for employee who come to the retail store  for approved work clothing and footwear.

Outside Industrial Sales – Work safety footwear brought to factory and industrial customers via a 24 ft. enclosed truck box carrying 950 safety shoes complete with an air-conditioned and heated sales and fitting area. The Industrial Shoe Mobile serves customers within a 35 mile radius of the Lakeville store.

Shoe Repair/Pedorthics

WPS leadership believes the repair of footwear products it sells to industrial customers is strategic to what it intends to accomplish within the marketplace. The ability to repair shoes internally truly sets WPS above competitors.

Prompt shoe repair and stitching at within the retail store is definite plus. Despite our goal to get customers to switch footwear every day, for now many have only one pair and when repairs are needed they must be immediately done while they are in the store.

Catalog Sales

The catalog/mail order sales operation will be implemented the first quarter of (2001).

Each of the business segments continue to possess excellent growth potential.  This is additionally reinforced when taking into account the large numbers of manufacturing and industrial facilities located within WPS’s forty mile marketing area as well as the numbers of towns surrounding Lakeville who don’t have a retail store offering quality work footwear and clothing. Therefore, despite where people may presently be purchasing their work clothing and footwear, the fact remains they need the type of products and services WPS provides.  Many hours are spent deliberating how to obtain these customers in ways competition either won’t do, don’t know how to do or can’t do. The bottom line for us to recognize the need and fill it!

Potential Market Area

WPS has the potential to serve a large customer base for people living in these locations: South Bend, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Goshen, Niles, No.Liberty, Walkerton, Knox, Rochester, Culver, Argos, Warsaw, Winemac, Bremen, Wyatt, Plymouth Bourbon.

Products For Customers

“Become the work clothing and footwear leader within a forty mile radius during the years 2001-2005.”

WPS desires to provide for working men and women (farmers, ranchers, building construction, industrial/manufacturing workers, road construction, etc.) quality work footwear and clothing that is comfortable, safe and sold at fair prices. The business is also committed to providing customers with quality factory second-footwear at very attractive prices. We have yet to offer any factory-second clothing or accessories.

Our compelling overall product mission is to have lots of Carhartt, work footwear and accessories in one

location with ample styles, sizes, lengths and widths available. As critical an issue that product breadth and depth is to the business, the fact is that our continued growth is mostly dependent on having employees who are technically trained and continuously display an attention to detail, sense of urgency and follow through. These types of employee of course have a passion for and commitment to retail and the types of customers being served. Leadership carries a major responsibility in ensuring the delicate inventory and people balance.


WPS by the nature of its work clothing and footwear inventory is a seasonal business. Further growth development is dependent upon focusing on and building the Retail-Industrial Sales and Outside-Industrial Sales business segments who also have seasonal buying needs. We know from experience that a retail businesses can accomplish as much as 65%-70% of annual sales during the fourth quarter of the year.  For WPS, the Indiana October, November and December cold weather season means heavy sales in work bibs, work coats, insulated underwear, heavy shirts, socks, insulated/waterproof boots, protective rubber and pack boots.

Business Alliances

WPS desires to build an alliance for the Industrial Shoe Mobile business with a local company who is in some way serving or desiring to serve the same customer(s) ours does. The goal is to reach the top levels of our present customer’s organization and demonstrate the many different products and services they can receive from a single supplier. This year (2001) will require an investment in an outside sales leader in order to launch our footwear catalog business and to grow the present business segments.