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July 13, 2013 - 9:40am

Owner places blame on GCEDC for decision to close Fisher Sports

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, GCEDC.

Press release:

Fisher Sports has decided to close its doors. We have thought about the situation and have had many discussions over the last month and we feel with being a new business we just haven’t had enough time to build our business to where we could withstand a hit like the one the GCEDC gave us paying Dick's to come to town.

We would have liked to stay open through the end of the year but with my son Jonathan’s football season at Syracuse starting next month I will be doing a lot of traveling and thought this is as good a time as any to start the closing process. We are having a 50-percent off everything in the store sale to reduce our inventory so please come in and take advantage of the savings.

Rachael Scott
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How do they know it's such a "hit" when Dick's isn't open or built yet?

dennis wight
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common sense tells you it's going to be a "hit".

Sally Waldron
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That's what I was thinking also Rachael, granted it would take business away after the initial opening of Dicks, but it just seems to me like it's giving up the ship before it even sails. Fisher Sports seemed a bit more local based with working with the schools where Dicks is a mass retailer that will not give personalized service. But then again I am not the owner of the business so who am I to say?

Kyle Couchman
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Rachel and Sally, perhaps you might consider that they might not have the volume of sales or supplies needed to survive a Dicks opening. I mean look at it in a condensed scenario... Lets say I own a coffeeshop, I may not be getting rich but I turn a very modest profit and pay all the bills. Then a starbucks plans to open a few storefronts away. It's obvious that I will lose business. The decision to try to stick it out all depends on how much into the hole I am willing to risk going in. In today's economic environment I'd rather close while I am ahead rather than risk a hit to my credit. Especially if I might try again or maybe start another business in the future.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Sad news for Fisher Sports and sad news for the City of Batavia, which now has one more empty store front. The very existence of economic development corporations (EDC's) empowered to bestow tax abatements, is an admission by Albany that NYS is overtaxed and fundamentally unfriendly to business. Albany's answer is to promote crony capitalism through EDC's. Big corporations like COR and Dick's Sporting Goods
are chosen as winners while the Fisher Sports of the City fall by the wayside. The real winners are the politicians, corporations who finance political campaigns and the well connected local people who score executive jobs with the EDC's. The promises to create jobs always seem to fall short and the jobs that are created quite often don't pay a living wage. I am running for City Council this Fall and I won't be supporting crony capitalism. The people of the city and the county deserve better.

Mark Brudz
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I am sorry, first I am steadfastly against any funding for big box retail so don't go there, but reading this press release all that went through my mind was.....

BULLSHIT and get me a violin, to just fold up doors before Dick's is even a done deal smacks of some other reason for their decision and if it was the reason, one would have to wonder just how committed they were to the business in the first place.

I know the GCDEC haters are going to continue to jumps on this as another spear to throw at GCDEC but I am at the least skeptical of the stated reasoning for the Fisher sports store closing.

Sally Waldron
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Kyle it's totally understandable what you are saying and I have to agree if I was a business owner to an extent. I remember when Bed Bath and Beyond was opening and my favorite candle shop closed before it was even built, stating that since they were going to sell Yankee candles and their store was going to take a hit on it.

She also informed me that she had burned out from operating the store and wanted to take a new course in her career and employment choices and I personally think she saw this as an out and was able to blame another retailer coming in so her customers could be upset at that and not at her deciding to go another route.

But you know I still don't go to BB&B for my candles, I now go to a store in Rochester or order them online, and I still miss the candle store because it had that personal service you don't get at the big box stores.

If you are done with your business be done with it and don't try to blame it on another entity before it is even here, because if you have loyal customers they will stay with you and help you stick out the storm.

Billie Owens
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While I'm no fan of Big Box retail, I must give credit where it is due and say that Bed Bath & Beyond is an exception when it comes to great customer service. They strive to be world-class in that regard and some of them are, especially in the largest metro areas. But all of them are above par. That said, I still would not approve of them getting tax abatements to open a store.

John Roach
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Maybe it's the real reason, but I just buy it. If Dick's did not come here, how much would his traveling still hurt the business? This place has been around for awhile and recently moved into its new location. How much did that move have to do with this? Sorry, but I have been to both locations and it was just never that busy.

I would guess now that any store that closes will blame the GCEDC or a box store. Sometimes a business just does not work out.

Jim Rosenbeck
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John, We can speculate forever about how much GCEDC actions may or may not have effected the bottom line at Fisher Sports. However, It is undeniable that the owner was obviously discouraged from remaining in business due to GCEDC's actions. I encourage local business owners to continue to let us know how EDC policies and actions effect their ability to compete on a level playing field.

John Roach
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Jim,
There is no doubt that the GCEDC has hurt and will hurt some small businesses. But this was only about this one business.

Howard B. Owens
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It's hard work to build a business. Sometimes and some people might look at a particular challenge and decide to try to power through it. Others, especially if they have other demands or options, might say, you know what, I don't need this.

Who knows what might have happened if Dick's hadn't received unfair advantages to open in Batavia. Maybe Kurt still would have reached the same conclusion. But the point is, as Jim points out, the anti-small-business move by GCEDC to give unnecessary tax breaks to COR Development discouraged this one owner enough that he felt it necessary to share that as the reason for his closure.

Businesses fail all the time for all kinds of reasons and there's really no shame in having a business fail, so it's not like Kurt Fisher needs to invent a reason for closing his store. He felt this was a significant development and decided it wasn't worth it to fight against a big retailer that has been handed an unfair advantage by local government.

Robert Hunt
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They can say Dick's is the reason for closing but I don't believe it. Adam Miller Toys has survived with Kmart, Walmart, Target & Genesee Lumber has survived with Home Depot.

Dave Olsen
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Very kind of some of the above commenters to kick a guy when he's down. Mr. Fisher is closing his business and he gave his reasons, who is anyone else to say his reasons are wrong?

Howard B. Owens
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Robert, Adam Miller is a well established store and it's not like a toy super center has opened here or will open here. Fisher's was still getting it's legs. Kurt said, "we feel with being a new business we just haven’t had enough time to build our business ... " Dick's will be much more of a direct competitor. Sorry, your comparison just doesn't fit. Same could be said for Genesee Lumber.

Jeff Allen
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I don't own a retail business and I'm not sure how many of the others who have commented either positively or negatively own one or much more, started one from scratch. What I do know is that it must be incredibly challenging in this economic climate and overburdensome tax environment so I give Kurt a tremendous amount of respect for putting personal resources on the line and giving it a shot. It's easy to armchair quarterback when someone else is sacrificing their capital, time, and effort.

Raymond Richardson
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Allow me to regale everyone of another EDC failure that occurred almost 20 years ago now:

A Swedish based company approached the Hume Town Board with a plan to build a CO-GEN facility on 150 acres in the northern part of the town that would provide two things to the local economy:

1. A Power Generation facility that would use water to power turbines to create electricity, presumably at a much lower rate than RG&E could provide it for; creating two byproducts from the facility A. Steam, and B. Distilled Water. The steam was to be piped over to the second facility of the property, a hydroponics plant for growing vegetables year round.

2. 150 local jobs for both the power facility and the hydroponics plant.

In return the company applied for, and received PILOT(Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) approval from the local EDC(back then it was called the EDZ or Economic Development Zone), and tax breaks totaling in the millions of dollars over a 10 year period. Both facilities were expected to be up and running within one years time following the PILOT approval.

The power facility was completed, and about 8 months later the hydroponics plant was completed.

The 150 local jobs: Never materialized

The reduced rate of power for the local communities: Not 1 kilowatt of power has been generated.

Total loss of tax revenue: As I said, it was in the millions of dollars. No one really knows exactly how much tax revenue was lost through the PILOT approval to this company as the Town Board, is not releasing that information, even to this day.

Oh, and the power facility; RG&E bought it 3 years after this entire project was started. They now control the monopoly on electric power in that area.

Just another to a long list of EDC failures.

Peter O'Brien
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Prices were always too high and the one service I really needed for sports was skate sharpening that wasn't offered. Hopefully they still have hockey tape for sale but since they are closed on Sundays, I couldn't find out today.

They could have stayed open if they wanted to by following the play it again sports model and offering used equipment.

John Woodworth JR
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I am not for either side in this matter. However, we all have learn sometime in our past that, Sometimes you get the Bear but, sometimes the Bear gets you. I do believe that Dick's would effect Fisher Sports and Olympia Sport but, at one time Dick's was a small business somewhere. How could Fisher Sport compete with Dick's? Give better customer service, sell quality products. Yes Dick's may have more of a selection but, does that always mean quality? This owner could at least waited to see if, Dick's is going to even come here. Let's say it does not, now Fisher Sport has given much of it's merchandise for 50% off. How does that help his bottom line? How about he work on advertisement and his customer service skills? Look at all the different Pizza places, do you think they should of closed shop when Pizza Hut and Dominos came to town? Look at the coffee shops, there always seems to be another one coming in. However, Tim Hortons and Dunkin Donuts did not scare them out. Business success is based on the owner's abilities as a customer server who can sell a competitive product. If, your customer service and product our questionable and/or are not of the same standard. Then you may have issues. Let's face it, there is alot of business owners out there wanting to make it big but, do not have the skills nor the product to make it happen. I have known a couple businessmen who cared more about their personal entertainment, than their employees' or business reputation.

Raymond Richardson
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Let's face it; but for the fact of the tax breaks from the GCEDC, Dick's would not be coming(allegedly) to Batavia.

Seems to me that these EDCs should research how the impacts on established local business that tax breaks given to bring in large corporate business would effect those small mom and pop stores, which I find have better service than the phony, scripted service of the corporate chains.

Howard B. Owens
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There is ample research and empirical and factual data available, Richard, that shows these sorts of tax breaks are incredibly damaging to local small business communities.

A good book on the subject is The Big Box Swindle, by Stacey Mitchell.

Howard B. Owens
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Also, the NYS Comptroller's Office reports have shown there is absolutely no economic (as in zero, zilch, nada0 benefit to the state or counties in giving tax breaks to national retail chains.

Mark Potwora
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There is no tax break given to Dicks..It is given to COR who will greatly benefit by not have to pay taxes on the full assessed value of the property..They will also benefit by not having to pay sales tax on the materials used to rebuilt their property...GCEDC will benefit by get getting there 1% take from the project...The money will flow to COR and GCEDC ..The only place money won't flow is to Batavias local business..

The change needed is in county government ,and by the look of those running nothing will change...Example Dejenaro is a democrat who is all for these tax breaks his challenger Bob Bialkowski endorsed by the conservative and republican party stand for the status qou at the GCEDC...They both think alike ..no change there..

Dave Olsen
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