Sunday, December 30, 2012


I grew up in upstate New York, and still have the majority of my family there. Since I had not returned home in over 4 years, and since so much had changed in our lives and our family since coming to Walla Walla, we finally decided to load up the Toyota Sienna and drive across the country for Christmas. Destination: Rochester, NY.

While here, my father suggested a great idea - a day trip to Cooperstown (about 2.5 hours away) to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame with my son - three generations of baseball fans at the cathedral of the game. It had been more than 20 years since I had last visited the Hall, and my son had never been. So we braved the heavy snow (upstate NY was hit with a storm after Christmas that dropped more than 2 feet of snow in various areas and at least 18 inches in most areas) and traveled back roads through the Southern Tier, checking into Cooperstown.

Notice the over-riding theme of Main Street Cooperstown.
What a magical place, even in the dead of winter. First off, Cooperstown is a cool city to visit even without the Hall of Fame. In addition to the Hall, there are numerous museums and history tied to James Fenimore Cooper - author of the Leatherstocking Tales which includes Last of the Mohicans (not the namesake, but the son of the namesake). Check out the Wikipedia entry here. The Main Street reminds me of Main Street in Walla Walla, except change all the wine-themed boutiques with baseball-themed restaurants and shops (check out the picture of the Cooperstown Bat Company in the historic district.

Isaac in the locker of a HOF.
Once in the Hall, I was able to share with Isaac and my dad all the joy that baseball places on the mountainous piles of history, notes, and records of the game. It was great to share with Isaac the story (along with pictures) of Jackie Robinson, and watch him process a world where people couldn't play or work with each other due to the color of their skin. It was especially gratifying to see him come to the conclusion on his own that was ridiculous. He sat in Hank Aaron's locker. We watched Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine, with Isaac doubled over laughing, but not as much as my father, who had a hard time breathing afterwards! When we saw displays of HOF'ers Ozzie Smith and Tony Gwynn, we were able to talk about how they started their careers in Walla Walla, just like Sweets players do. We looked at and took virtual tours of old stadiums like Ebbets in Brooklyn. We saw King Felix's jersey from his perfect game this summer. We bought souvenirs. We were fans.

The Wizard, who started his career in Walla Walla.
It was fun to be a fan with my father and my son. With a great-grandfather who played minor league baseball and a grandfather who sparked a love of the game for me by taking me to minor league games when I was a kid, I realized how much baseball connected (5) generations of my family. I was grateful to have grown up in a part of the country that was so rich in baseball history. One other small connection that made it even more special - friend and business partner Jeff Cirillo is on the ballot this year. To consider that only 1% of all players to have played professionally are in the hall, and that only a few percentage points more are able to get on the ballot, it gave me a greater appreciation for the career that Jeff had and for what that has allowed him to give back to the game, both in Walla Walla and beyond.

What Sweets player will be the first to make it to the Hall of Fame? What will that experience be like? It was fun to daydream about that as I wandered the Halls and experienced one of those "bucket list" experiences with my father and my son.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holidays made easy

I don't like to shop.

I don't like to browse, to try things on, to decide between this color or that color. The perfect shopping experience is one that I can either A) do from the comfort of my own home (makes me very grateful that I live in the generation that I do!!!) or B) go in, see what I want, get it and go.

I also run a business that is reliant on people who buy things. Tickets. Hot Dogs. Beer and soda. Hats. T-Shirts. Programs. You get the idea. So how do I reconcile my distaste for shopping with the reality that I run a retail business? That is easy. We create a shopping experience that offers that opportunity to both the shopping lover and the shopping...well, hater is a strong word, so I'll roll with "strongly disliker"...

Sure - we have the Sweets Shoppe, a boutique shop (not a candy store, although you can now buy candy there) that caters to those (including my wife) who do like the shopping experience. Lots of styles, multiple colors, men, women, kids, collectibles...all tucked into about 800 sq. feet of cute retail fun.

But for those like me (and I imagine there are a lot of you out there) that would rather be with friends or family or picking at your eye sockets with toothpicks than shopping, we have made it easy to pass on this holiday tradition. Our hats are separated out by both style and size - if you know your hat size and there isn't a line, you can be in and out in less than 4 minutes. Our retail lines, while plentiful, don't overwhelm the buyer and allow you to move quickly if you so choose. Tickets are quick, and you don't have to worry about size.

So, with that in mind, here are a few gift-giving ideas that are great for the season, and often times don't require sizes:

the new Christmas Lou cap.
  1. Ticket Plans - with the release of the schedule last week, we now have our full ticket plans available. Starting with the best deal dollars-wise down to a single-game package that includes hats and food, we likely have a plan that works for the fan you are shopping for. And guess what - as long as you are human, the gift fits. Here are quick links: 
    • 2013 Season Tickets - check out the family pass for those of you who have a big household. At an average ticket price of $2.27/per person/per game, it is as good a deal as you will find in any ballpark in any city. We only have about 15 left, so this one is worth the quick call. Check out why season tickets are the best deal - both in terms of price and benefits.
    • 8-game and 17-game Plans - some of the plans are geared towards giveaways, others fireworks, others early-season or late-season to match vacation schedules. With (3) plans to choose from, there is bound to be an option that works for your schedule.
    • Vouchers - a full sheet gets you and 11 buddies, or you and three buddies four times, or you and one buddy six times, into the park for 22% off what you would pay at the gate. And they are flexible, so you can create your own ticket plan.
  2. Gift Certificates -  not sure what of our award-winning merchandise your loved one(s) would like? It isn't nearly as cool - but a gift certificate is so flexible. Plus, it is a gift certificate to something that is fun - not like taxes or anything in that vein.
  3. Friends and Family 4-Pack - maybe your family is looking for a singular experience - perhaps not a whole season, but a great night together at the ballpark. This is the plan for you - (4) G/A tickets, (4) dinners at the ballpark, and (4) unique Sweets caps ($138 in retail value) for $44. Simple. In and Out.
  4. Lid Alliance memberships are a great and painless way to shop.
  5. Lid Alliance Membership - do you know someone that is crazy about hats...unique, a little crazy, and certainly rare hats? a membership in Lou's Lid Alliance is the perfect gift. Check out the link and find out what is becoming one of the best collector's clubs in town.
 If you are a shopper, we are grateful for you and look forward to helping you enjoy the experience of small-town boutique shopping. If you are not, we have you covered there as well. And if you see me curled up, rocking back and forth in the corner of a store as my lovely wife asks me if this seventh different shirt would be a good gift for my sister, please come and save me!!