WEDA Success Stories
WEDA Success Stories
Category: 2016 Success Stories
Small town retailers often must be as creative as they are flexible. A local grocery store might add a small hardware section, and then a coin-operated laundromat, just to keep the doors open.
WC Sports & Western Wear of Newcastle evolved from a business named The Wedding Closet, which as the name suggests, sold such items as fancy gowns and tuxedos. But weddings and formal events didn’t keep store owner Deb Carr busy year-round. And since a wedding store appeals mostly to women, she decided to branch out. She has had the business since 1993, beginning in Iowa, and since moving to Newcastle, she has never felt more welcome by the local residents!
In 2012, Deb started carrying NFL gear like football jerseys. In 2014, jeans and shirts became part of the inventory. In 2016, Deb added Master Hatters cowboys hats. Toss in a name change from The Wedding Closet to WC Sports & Western Wear, and the small town wedding shop also became a store stocked with jeans and shirts, cowboy hats, Tony Lama boots, and even NFL jerseys and shot glasses.
“We had to do what we had to do, to pretty much stay alive in a small town,” Deb said, adding that the store changed as unmet customer needs were identified and in response to the economy.
In 2016, Newcastle experienced negative economic ripples from significant layoffs at coal mines in neighboring Campbell County. But Deb persevered.
“I just look at it that you don’t close your doors,” she said. “Just slow down on your inventory and your advertising a little bit. And when people buy, start paying stuff off. Don’t close your doors because that’s what makes these little towns become ghost towns.”
Marcella Carson is a diehard Denver Broncos football fan. She has purchased Broncos jerseys from Deb’s store; she also bought a shot glass for her son-in-law and had his name etched on it. Now she’s looking at boots for her great-grandchildren.
“That’s the sort thing you can’t get anywhere else,” Marcella said. “She goes the extra mile to make her customers happy.”
Deb contributes to Newcastle in many ways. “First of all, she is an awesome lady. And she bends over backward to get what you want,” Marcella added. “I enjoy so much just going in and visiting with her.”
Deb also has turned her business into a community outreach during senior prom season at the high school.
In addition to offering discounts on prom gowns, Deb gives away a prom gown to an economically disadvantaged senior girl and a tuxedo to a boy.
“If I have to order it, or it’s in stock, we pay for that gown for her,” she said. “To me, this is my prom king and queen.”
Deb also gathers together volunteers for the past four years on prom day to do hair, makeup, and nails. In 2016, 18 girls received free services.
In December, Deb holds a customer appreciation day and offers children’s “fingerprint” ornaments.
Deb has developed excellent marketing skills throughout her life as an entrepreneur and is continually implementing her new ideas and products. Along the way, she met Susan Jerke, the SBDC regional director for northeastern Wyoming, became a client, and they have spent time visiting about Deb’s marketing ideas to benefit her store and other members of the Newcastle business community. Deb has hosted SBA roundtable presentations that help other businesses gain practical knowledge to improve their chances for success.