Fifteen local businesses came together in less than 48 hours to create a new discount program for downtown merchants.
Sometimes all it takes to start a movement is one person saying they are tired of a monotonous life.
Plant City’s historic downtown is slowly growing. New businesses are joining the ranks of those that have
weathered the test of time and there is much talk of “coming together” and “unifying the downtown community.” Mike Gartz, owner of I Hate My Trainer and I Hate My Mattress, and Greg Williams, owner of Brick City Bricks, both chose to open their businesses downtown and they’re tired of talking.
“I was working out at Mike’s and we just started talking about what we wanted to see happen downtown,” Williams said. “We both kind of thought of making a discount card full of downtown merchants that would allow people to shop around and know there are other stores in the area. We looked at each other and said, ‘Hey we should do this.’ He walked out of the door and before I had finished on the treadmill he had six other businesses on board.”
It happened in a blink of an eye. The idea was born in the I Hate My Trainer gym and within 48 hours 15 businesses had confirmed their interest and submitted their year-long discount. Gartz sent the card to press and had it displayed on the counter of every participating business by the end of the week.
Gartz said Plant City has a lot of “talkers” and he by nature is simply a “doer.” This card will bring customers downtown and keep them there. It was a solid idea so he shrugged, grabbed his notepad and went to see if any other businesses were interested in joining them. The card is completely full, front and back, and he expects it will only continue to grow.
“We just decided, it’s been 12 years, there’s a lot of organizations that try to help us, but nothing really seems to get done,” Gartz said. “We’ve got to get together and do it ourselves. So that’s what we did.”
The cards are free and feature discounts like 15% off a used set at Brick City Bricks, 10% off breakfast at Normas, 15% off the purchase of two meals at Strawberry Tap, a free tea with the purchase of a sandwich at the Corner Store, $75 for a full detail at Allen & Hector’s Elite Auto and more.
They’ll be around all year and next year the plan is for new discounts to be printed to continue to the tradition.
“People don’t even realize what all is here,” Williams said. “And not just those from out of town. I’ve had locals come in and when I bring up a store down a side street or around the block they have no idea what I’m talking about. We want downtown to be a destination, a place people come and spend their time.”
Williams said the great thing about the business owners committing to this together is there were no hoops they had to jump through to reach success. He said it was nice to not have to wait “for approval from a board” and to just be able to bring a plan to fruition in a matter of days.
Williams compared the inner support of local businesses to that of a family unit. Everyone wants to make a profit and be successful, but they know the only way to do so is to support their neighbors.
“Plant City’s downtown needs help,” Gartz said. “Maybe this will be part of the answer. People come in one business, see the card and realize there’s something going on here. We’re all working together. We’re all supporting each other. When I do something, I do it. End of story.”