Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hard Times Cafe--Winter Caravan Stop Number Two

“The marketing reason to be at the ballpark is to expose yourself to a whole new group of people. It’s also, in my mind, to legitimize yourself by associating with a strong brand," believes Doug Welsh, VP Franchising & Development for The Hard Times Cafe. "I am very big on branding. The Nationals are a phenomenal brand in this town. I want to be a part of that. I not only want to support them, but I want to get my message out through their branding too. When people come into our stores and they see Nationals Logos and promotional materials on the tables--or they meet Jim Riggleman at the store--it just puts me heads and shoulders above my competition.”

Today was a payback day by Our Washington Nationals. The 2nd Stop of the 2010 Winter Caravan was in Clarendon--Arlington, Virginia. One of the 16-Hard Times Cafes in the Greater D.C. Area. Our Manager Jim Riggleman, MASN's Rob Dibble and players Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Ryan Speier visited with Nationals Fans and Patrons at the locally well-known restaurant and sports bar. One of only a few local sponsors who have virtually remained with Our Washington Nationals from their beginnings in 2005.

Forgotten many times when you pick up that free bobblehead, or baseball cap, upon entering Nationals Park--is the fact that a corporation or local business has donated the funds to make that gift possible. Nothing is done for free, everything has a cost. That's why Corporate Sponsors are important to Our Washington Nationals--and you--the fan. The very reason 'local' businesses are aplenty at the South Capitol Street Ballpark. Understand, whenever The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation works one of their Neighborhood Initiatives--Hard Times Cafe has been there providing support: Food, Water, Snacks--all to keep the volunteers fresh and ready for more work.

It truly is a two-way street.

Doug Welsh: “My deal with The Nats is this and they know this--and it has nothing to do with money, promotions or anything: ‘Anything you guys (The Nationals) need, call me and I will have it for you.’ We have a great relationship with not only the corporate sales and promotion department, but the entire organization. To me, it’s a no brainer. We support them 100%.”

It also doesn't hurt the bottom line according to Mr. Welsh.

“Look, make no bones about it, we wanted a team back here for personal reasons and for business reasons. I am a huge baseball fan, but let’s face it, the more sports in our hometown--the more business is generated for us. We do very well with football and hockey (as a sports bar). Baseball is our next sport we are tackling, as far as, people coming in--watching the games--and becoming avid fans. As we have seen baseball grow over the past few years, we’ve seen it grow in our stores.”

Even in a recession?

“Yeah, for the last three years, the restaurant business has been pretty difficult for a lot of people. Every single one of the years The Nationals have been in town, our business has come UP from the previous year. Can I associate that directly to The Nationals? No, maybe not, but it certainly is a big part of it. So we are bucking the national trend (or is it Nationals Trend?) by coming up in sales in a recession. I just have to think there are more great things to come as the economy gets a little better.”

The very reason The Winter Caravan stopped at The Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon for over one hour this Wednesday afternoon. The upper level packed with Nats Fans in the middle of a work weekday. The first public chance this winter for baseball fans to "Meet & Greet" members of Our Washington Nationals before Spring Training begins in February.

PS--Nats320 was unable to cover the 3rd stop of The Winter Caravan this evening at The Build-A-Bear Workshop Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia. We are working "The State Of The Union Address" instead--at The U.S. Capitol. Sort of important too--you know?

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


HondoFan said...

SBF- Will there be any detail regarding which players will be signing at NatsFest and where?

Screech's Best Friend said...

No word yet on which players will be where on Sunday during NatsFest.

Abby & Joey's Dad said...

Build a Bear was a small crowd, but we enjoyed it. Abby got to clown around with Screech. Drew, Danny, Ryan, Dibble and Riggleman were great! Abby got autographs and pictures with all. Joey on the other hand wasn't sure about his loyalty to the team yet (Dinner was his focus) - what can you expect from a 16 month old :)