Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Baseballism Jonathan Loomis
Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Baseballism Jonathan Loomis
Gabriel Flores 0:00
All right, thank you Jon Loomis from Baseballism, the Chief Financial Officer, thank you so much for joining me on the shades of entrepreneurship. Let's get into this. I want to hear who is Jonathan Loomis.
Jonathan Loomis 0:16
Okay, thanks for having me.
Gabriel Flores 0:18
No, thank you for most. Yes.
Jonathan Loomis 0:20
So we actually go way back. We do. Yes. It's good to see you again. Okay, so who am I? I guess I'll start at the beginning because that's yes, usually start. I'm from the Pacific Northwest. I was born in Monterey, California. On a military base. I'm from a military family. I spent the first seven years of my life overseas, grew up in Naples, Italy, and then moved to Oregon in about 1989. And had been here ever since I've went to University of Oregon, got a degree in economics stayed in the state of Oregon and haven't really ventured outside of the state of Oregon in terms of like places I've lived. I married my high school sweetheart. And then I started my career in in Portland, I. And I remember this like it was yesterday, but I was graduating. It was spring break. It was the spring break before I graduated. And it was my undergrad year. I'm sorry, it was my it was my was my four year degree. And I remember applying for jobs. And spring break, I was in my parents house. And I found a play I found a listing at Oregon Health Science University, which is, you know, the only academic medical center in the state of Oregon. It's one of the largest employers. And I apply for this job. I had a call like, within 24 hours, I got a call. And so I took the call and I'm still in college, right? And so I took this call I interviewed while I was still trying to get over the finish line in school and I got the job. And my boss, you know, who was hiring me was willing to wait nice 30 days until I graduated moved back to Portland. So it was like, I didn't you know, a lot of a lot of my friends, they graduate and they're like, I'm gonna go go to Europe. I'm gonna go to Australia, I'm gonna go to travel the world. I didn't do any of that. I literally started working that the day after I graduated, I drove up to Portland and then got married, you know, a couple of months later and just kind of started my career that way. So that's that's kind of like, my background. Yeah,
Gabriel Flores 2:32
no, that's great. That's so so healthcare. You were in health care, what do you do in healthcare?
Jonathan Loomis 2:41
Yeah, so that so that job I applied for was in a finance and accounting, okay. And I got a degree in economics. And so it kind of was like I enjoyed numbers. I kind of enjoyed the the nuts and the bolts of the business. And I jumped into a very low level kind of analytic position. And in the information technology grew sector of OHSU. And so and so I wasn't in you know, I wasn't in delivering health care. I'm not a doctor. I'm not like, I'm not a hands on guy with patients. I was really on the backside, looking at reports and looking at profitability and projects, and a lot of what I was doing was forecasting costs on and software projects. And that was kind of my window into into healthcare. And I stayed in that field I have never left it is to this day. I really enjoy accounting, budgeting, financing. Forecasting the analytics the profitability stuff, like I've kind of always stuck with that.
Gabriel Flores 3:38
Yeah. So So debt financing now baseball ism. How did how did that kind of begin and what where's the where's the beginning story for that?
Jonathan Loomis 3:48
So baseball is actually predates OHSU. I, when I was at the University of Oregon, what am I call I played club baseball there. Okay, so you know, this is not a university work and didn't have a deal. Do you want a baseball team at the time, but I had a club team and club sports is a big across the country, right? So I joined the team, my sophomore year. I got to know a ton of guys at the time one guy in particular Travis, he became my roommate later on at a college and our our baseball experience it at Oregon was was unique because although we were a club team we were we were actually pretty good and we joined this this this national league called Club it was national club baseball Association and we joined it was early in the in that league history but we joined in and we started winning and we went to the World Series like like it ended up being like seven years in a row or something. started this great history but the first year we joined we made it to the World Series and I met and became friends with a lot of guys that process so baseball ism. In initially started as a youth baseball camp. Hmm. And so Travis, my roommate and my, my, my teammate, he had the idea of starting up a youth camp, right? And because he looked around he was like, Look, we're in Eugene Oregon baseball is not like this is not an epicenter for baseball the Pacific Northwest typically isn't the Beavers are a bit of a an exception to that, you know, they've, they're very successful. But from from a youth sports perspective, Oregon has not really considered a baseball state. But So Travis saw this like need and so he's like, let's start a baseball camp. This was our senior year. He we actually bought, we purchased an existing youth camp from somebody interesting, and it was called a safe at home. Okay, and he had this like, you know, roster of players. And so I think we paid like $2,000 for this camp. And we immediately returned like looking back, it was ridiculous. We paid $2,000 for this camp, I immediately changed the name. And then but we we inherited a group of kids and just started up a camp and it was just a bunch of it was a bunch of college guys wanting to we weren't even trying to make a ton of money. It was just like, we want to do something good. We named branded the camp baseballs and we created camp T shirts, like everyone like most people do. Right? And I just said baseball's, I'm across the front. And the reason we named a baseball ism is because we're like, you know, put yourself back in 2005. Right, and we're looking on we're just trying to buy a domain name. Oh, yeah. Baseball, no jokes. Like we want a domain name that the word baseball at baseball in it. And we landed on baseball ism and purchased the domain name and held on to it and said, Okay, that's what we're gonna call the camp. And, and that was but that name is kind of powerful for a lot of reasons. And I could touch on that but but basically that's that's the beginning of the name baseball ism. And there's this camp teacher t shirt. This has baseballs on across the front. And there's this iconic like, drop instead of an eye. It's a it's a drop bed. It's like a basically a baseball bat. Yeah. Right. And we've we've held on to that kind of imagery for a while. But that was the beginning of this whole thing. And fast forward, right. So we start this camp, it goes on for about two years. And then you can imagine like, everyone gets everyone graduates and and gets married, I went back to Portland, I got a job, you know, like, quote unquote, real job working at the hospital and the camp, you know, we dissolve the camp. Right? And, and I didn't I probably didn't talk to Travis for a couple years. And not because like we had a falling out. But just because everyone kinda goes their own separate ways. And I'm like, you know, I'm off doing my thing. And he goes and does his thing. Okay, so then 2012 comes around, I get an email from Travis. And I had seen him off and on, like, we're still friends and stuff. And he's living in Beaverton. I think he's teaching at the time. And he emails me any and a long, funny thing. So I still held I kept on this email, because of that it was kind of a good piece of history for the business. But he emailed not just me, but a bunch of people, okay. Like, you get an email blast. And there's 20 People in this email, and a lot of people don't even know. And he opens up this email, it was saying, Hey, guys, I got this idea. I want to reimagine baseball ism, the camp that I started that we started 2005 into a clothing brand. And he said, and he even he had tested it out, he had made a run of the camp t shirt, and he put it into a batting cage facility and be returned. And like, you know, it sold out. Oh, well, interesting. So he's kind of like, it was his little proof of concept. Right? Yeah. And he said, anyone who's interested, and being part of this show up at my house next week. Wow, Wednesday. And the only people that showed up? Were the people who started the camp. Wow. You know, seven years prior? And anybody could I mean, anyone who was interested could have shown up, but no one no one did. And so that the same people who started the camp, responded to that email, we all got together and said, Okay, let's launch this thing. And it's, yeah, and that's how it started.
Gabriel Flores 9:42
That's incredible. And I think that's an important story for entrepreneurs to hear is essentially first. The first thing that was done is Travis identified a need, right that the youth baseball at Oregon, there was a lack of that kind of influence or, you know, progress And it sounds like that was the first step. Right? And then and then kind of progressing organically right into building that now that tested concept piece. Is that kind of how you guys built baseballs into what it is today?
Jonathan Loomis 10:15
Yeah, there. I think you touched on it and I definitely, you know, so here's the here's the nuts and bolts of like, I think why baseball was has been successful and for those who don't know, maybe I could I take a step back and describe what baseball is today. So right so baseball is it's a lifestyle apparel brand. You know, we do graphic T shirts, hats, hoodies, outerwear, accessories, leather, a
Gabriel Flores 10:44
lot of other product women's purses. Yep, a
Jonathan Loomis 10:46
lot of you know, we tell a glove leather story and a lot of a product. So you know, we basically took an off the field approach. We have 11 retail stores across the country. We have an online platform. We don't do a lot of wholesale, but we're starting to do more and more. And you know, we're like $20 million brand. So it just it was born out of a baseball camp. And so it's it's got a lot of legs, it's got a lot of followers, we have about 1.51 point 6 million followers on social media Platt, all it gets with all of our social media platforms. And so it's it's become a thing, right? We actually found this niche and to your to your question, right, this is a segue into the to your ultimate question. Have we identified a need? And I think there's kind of two pieces to that. One is the the need baseball people experienced prior, like, prior to us and other who's who people have jumped in the space. People who love baseball experienced it by buying MLB franchise. Yeah, right. So in that was, you know, it was really it was typically the team, like if you're if you're a young player, you're 1213 years old, you would have your own team care, which is very common, like I have a like T shirt that says, you know, the Raiders across the front or whatever that your dear go Raiders, right? Yeah. And then you might also be a fan of fill in the blank. You might also be a fan of the angels, or the Padres or the Dodgers, right? That might be like the MLB franchise that you look up to, and you watch on TV. And so your your, your love of the game was expressed by buying kind of that kind of thing, right? And so the need that we identified over time, and actually right away was there's a humongous group of baseball enthusiasts. Yeah, who they might have their MLB franchise that they like, but they read they but they like or play the game on a level that opens them up to all other sorts of like inside information about baseball, no one was talking about. So for those who are baseball people or baseball fans, you'll you'll know right away, like, there's insight things about baseball that only baseball people get. And this is common in a lot of other sports too. This isn't just unique to baseball, but I think baseball has because of its tradition and history. It has maybe more of this cachet than other other sports. And we simply tapped into that reservoir of inside information that that, that you really had to be a baseball person on. And we found our market and that youth player. So and I this resonates with me being someone who grew up in Oregon, we don't have a Major League Baseball franchise in Oregon. So I never I kind of like kind of tacked on to whatever. Whatever network was playing at the time as like, it used to be I was really big Braves fan because TBS was the Oregon market. And so during the 90s and I became a huge Braves fan. And I also like, you know, the cubs were on all the time because WGN it was just really like you were just kind of influenced by that. And so I guess the point is, is like when you're younger and you're playing it and you're it becomes a lifestyle, right. The Sport became a lifestyle and no one was really speaking to the lifestyle of the sport. And so we just filled that need, and we found it right away. And it was it. There's two pieces again to this is one is we timed it right. And I think you can't under I can't undersell how important timing is. When there's a window of opportunity, you got to take it because for us the timing was no one was in the Space yet, because everyone kind of thought baseball had to be experienced through a franchise. And we kind of uncovered that that's not true. And then also look, social media back in 2012 was way different than it is now. Right? So Instagram wasn't even a thing yet. Yeah, yeah, right. And Facebook was the thing. It was the platform. And it was free back then. So it was easy to build an audience make organic content, have it be shared, and have it spread. Twitter was the other kind of Avenue. So we tight we found this window of time, you don't know it's a window. But But looking back, you've realized you had a very kind of unique window, we found this missing need and we found a platform to get the message out. And we just we just took advantage of that.
Gabriel Flores 15:46
Yeah, you know, it's kind of interesting about it, too, is I felt like there was there was a point in time around that 2001 2000, kind of after the steroid era, right, where, you know, bonds and or the alleged steroid era, we don't really know, right? It kind of seemed like the, the interest around America in baseball kind of declined a little bit. And I would say, I'm not, I'm not saying baseball ism, did it single handedly. But since these kinds of sayings come out, has no for the last couple of years or so in 10 years, I've been noticing like even major league baseball players were in baseball ism, you know, apparel, and kind of talking about the saints, the cliches, right, that you mentioned, how has that kind of grown? Your your program? Or was that kind of already? Did you guys already kind of had major league baseball players that are interested in your brand? Or was it kind of like the brand grew? And then they became interested? Yeah,
Jonathan Loomis 16:42
I think it's, I think it's that I think we we always came from like a really authentic kind of Yeah, perspective. And we always authenticity is a word you hear a lot, but it's like, I can't I can't underscore that enough. Like, what are if you're building a business, right? And in my look, I'm not going to tell everyone what to do. Because it's like, I really only have my own experience here. But if you're selling a product and brand matters, and that product, like that's the differentiator, like look, there's a million T shirts out there. And and the reality is most of them are pretty much all the same. Okay, don't get me wrong, there's some differentiation and that that's the thing too, but for the most part, they're all the same. So why would you buy one over the other? And you've got two things, it's either price or what's on it? What are you trying to express something on that right, and so the authenticity of the message and what you're trying to say, needs to resonate with people, you need to be a storyteller. And so we just told a really authentic and good story all the time. Everything we did was about telling a baseball story. And in the from the lens of like, a pure, long term way it was so you know, what I mean by that is, you know, in baseball, and you could see it now, like there's, you know, what's popular now in terms of like bat flips, and how people react and you know, maybe how they celebrate. I black, like, you know, there's all sorts of things you have a fall that maybe come and go and it's like, like, it's like the things the fringes of baseball, we've we've kind of like, never touched that. And we always talk about the really like the, the foundation. Yeah, right, that that. And I credit Travis with this. But he when he was creating a lot of this content, and try to build a brand around baseball, he was like, I want this brand to live on when we're 60 years old. And that that actually really resonated with me because you see this happening with other smaller companies trying to like come up and create content in this space is that you know, they're they're latching on to very topical information, like very topical events like, oh, you know, tease jr. did this. Let's create a shirt around that. Right. Okay, that the problem that's exciting at the moment, and you might actually be able to capitalize on the very short window, but you cannot win long term doing that. Yeah. So we completely shied away from that. Yeah. Even though you feel like you're losing opportunities, it actually is the best long term play. So yeah. It's all about storytelling. Now, to your initial question. I have deviated I love it completely, but major league baseball players, we just told this really authentic story that never touched on topical information. And we found that we started getting like a gravitational pull from people who felt the same way about the game. And so you know, we get we have, you know, Justin Turner, Jed Lowery. Those players like that have really been huge advocates of ours and they've kind of gravitated towards the brand because it told that that authentic message That's great. And we've never paid an athlete. We've never paid anyone to represent the product or the marks or anything that we do. So it's all it's all. It's if you don't, they're doing it because they love it.
Gabriel Flores 20:11
That's amazing. So let's, let's take a step back, because we've talked about, you know, we're where we're at today, right baseball ism, but I would really want the listeners at home to know because this doesn't happen overnight. Right, you guys, you mentioned, you know, since 2012, you guys kind of in grinder 2005. Right? Kind of getting baseball ism going? What What kind of advice would you give individuals that are trying to grow business? What kind of takeaways Do you have, like kind of gems that say, you know, this is what we went through? Avoid this, do this?
Jonathan Loomis 20:41
Yep, there's a lot there. And I, again, I wouldn't be able to cover everything, right? Yeah, I can give you my lens, yet what we experienced on a business level, people have been really adversely impacted by this. But from just the business perspective, what that really drove home that we did, right, was we were very diversified, and how we communicated with our audience and how we sold, right. So we had multiple platforms, we have a strong digital commerce platform. We had our own direct retail chains. And then we had some wholesale relationships. And we we really, were pretty nicely spread across that. And we are spread geographically as well. So we're not just we're not just in California, we're not just in Oregon, we're actually everywhere. Okay, that diversification at the end of the day saved us in this one particular example, but I think it, it resonates on a lot more than that, I think, when you think about if you're if you're building a business, right, and not everyone can do this. So again, this is not, this is not a one size fits all. But really think about your customer base, and how you're getting your message and your project crossed. And try to constantly diversify that if 80% of your business comes from 1%, or one because other business, if you're b2b, or whatever it is, you're doing, right? That should be considered a threat all the time, they are risk to you all the time, constantly be be trying to diversify. And in gosh, you know, like, if you would have asked me this question two years ago, I would have I would have maybe given you a different answer about like, here's things to think about. I may not have gotten to the diversification things quickly, but going through it over the last Yeah, once. I could tell you that. I don't think enough people thought about this are so a lot of really, really famous brands and famous, like businesses that are did not survive. Yeah, absolutely. Because they they relied on one show, they had one kind of thing they did, and they relied on the big box in the mall or whatever it was. And they found that that you kick out one leg of the stool is still gonna still stand and they found that they a lot of businesses can do that. So think about diversification. I think that's important. But gosh, there's so many things, right? I mean, yeah. Okay, what did we do? Right? What did we do wrong? We always went for the low hanging fruit. Like, think about that, like, go don't get in as someone who's into the numbers, too. I could tell you like, think about think about scaling your business. In a way where it's always self funding itself. So in the way you do that is you go for the low hanging fruit first and then you Okay, once the all the low hanging fruit is done, you say, Okay, where do I get with this because your commitments and your costs and your overhead are low at that point. And you're just you're constantly moving up the ladder? Yeah, I think people get in trouble when they try to go from A to Z, like they literally tried to go from A to Z, or and they're investing a tremendous amount of money or, or time or effort into something that they don't, they think that's where they need to be. And so they're just trying to shoot for that right away. Don't do that chip away and start at the very bottom. And don't be afraid to be you know, you're the one who started your company, but go to that fare, or set up the tent and talk to the customer and sell them the product directly. And just every single sale every transaction is a win and I so we've been doing this for eight years. I remember. Like it was yesterday. I was we were with the moment we launched our website. And the first sale came in from someone we didn't know Oh, nice. And and then it was like, but I never I was like okay, this is incredible. And that that rush when you actually are able to do a transaction. Yeah. And but we were we never felt disconnected from that. So ever. We felt like we need to drive every single one of those when we wouldn't be intimately involved. With all of our customers and intimately involved is to the extent we could with everybody. Don't try to go too quickly, right? And really, and get feedback early on, try to really fine tune before you're too far down that one road, really fine tune based on feedback, what your product needs that look like,
Gabriel Flores 25:17
yeah. So this whole time while you are creating baseball ism, you're still working in healthcare. Right? Or as as it began, what was what was like the pivotal moment for you that you were kind of felt, okay, I can leave this career in health care behind and now continue to move forward with baseball ism.
Jonathan Loomis 25:39
Yeah, that that concept of like moonlighting is is huge and important. I think most people face this right, very rarely actually, do you get to just say, I'm going to jump in to my adventure, and I'm going to do most people have that side job. So what I here's what I, here's what I did, and here's what I would recommend. I had this established career. And I had been working at OHSU. I had worked there for 12 years and gotten to the director level by the time I left. And I had a very stable career, and I was very happy there. But I moonlighted right. And so I moonlighted until, for until two things intersected one. The business actually needed me full time. Right, gotcha. I'm in a unique position, I had partners who I was the last to go on full time. Gotcha. And so we phase people in when two things intersected the business could afford it. And the business actually needed them full time. Interesting. And we didn't and we didn't do any moves until those two things happens, right? So I, I burn literally burn the midnight oil. For years years, I would go to work Monday through Friday, in a pretty demanding, very demanding and demanding environment demanding job. And I was I was present all the time at work. But what I did from six o'clock to 10 o'clock was the side hustle. Wow. And I did that for years until it was it got to the point where it was very taxing. Yeah, the business needed me more than just six to 10. And then, you know, it could it got to a point where it was it can economically afford it. Yeah, it wouldn't, it wouldn't burden the business, you know, by me going on. So those two things have to intersect. That was my personal experience. Now everyone has a different kind of circumstance. But that's that's how we that's how we did it.
Gabriel Flores 27:37
Was there ever a moment during that, that transition of of self doubt, or even self doubt, and the company was going to be successful?
Jonathan Loomis 27:53
From it, because I drink the Kool Aid, right? Yeah. And so I saw it, I was like, Man, I could see where this is where this could be liable. Yeah, as long as we keep doing it, right. I think we're the self, the self doubts. When you make when you do something that's not, doesn't come off, really well perceived, like maybe you have some, you might have some early on positive feedback, or you might have some early on like financial winds during your adventure. And then you try you keep moving, oh, great, this is positive right? Now, I gotta keep moving up up the chain here or down this road, and you're gonna find that not everything you do is going to be positively received. Or maybe you might have, you might make a financial mistake, or whatever it is, right. And so those tend to be the self doubters, when you realize like, success is not linear. It goes up and down. And it's and so like, if you were to graph your starting point into your ending point, right? And success was up into the right, you're you're not it's not a linear experience. If you're not constantly seeing growth, you're not constantly being positively reinforced, you're gonna find pitfalls. It's a spectrum of ups and downs, but you and I think people fall into that we're like, oh, my gosh, this didn't go well. So I don't know if I'm gonna do it anymore. I can give some good examples of that. But you do kind of have to like, look, this is a weird moment, you kind of have to put the blinders on a little bit to that and be like, work and be realistic, they not everything you do is going to be successful, so that self doubt is going to creep in. And if you believe in like that underlining what, whatever it is you're doing. And for us it was I believed in the underlining kind of like, I thought, I believe that baseball was gonna be around forever. I believed I loved the concept that we were tapping into the right person. We weren't being topical. We weren't just trying to live in the moment where, you know, we were actually like, we're tapping into this like huge history and I think it could live forever type of thing. And so I kind of bought into that and wanted to just focus on that. So self that came up all the time and we look like there's other things too. I mean, I've been through lawsuits, I've been through theft on many levels, like people breaking into the store and warehouse employees theft. It things that you don't know, maybe you don't experience in the nine to five job like, you know, look, if you're you're punching the clock or you're going to work, whatever it is, your thing is, and you're a W two employee, and you're and you're grinding for someone else, like you don't realize that maybe behind the curtain, there's a whole new list of things that come up that may be shocking to you, when you tried your own venture and lawsuits and legal, you know, getting a lawyer getting a letter from someone saying, like, you know, I'm going to sue you, because you did steal my idea or something. And even though it's totally frivolous, you're going to experience that if you seek success. So that's self, there's moments of self doubt through those things, simply because you're not aware that that's actually coming on, that's just a part of the process. So look, it's prepare yourself, 100% of you are going like, you're you're going to have moments where not everything is all roses, right? And that's okay, just keep pushing through. It's like it's, you know, in sports, I mean, you have when you, you're gonna you're gonna have days where you you know, you're on for weeks, where you go, you know, Oh, for 10, right, and you're gonna feel like you're the worst hitter in the world. But, you know, during the season or your career, you're actually an all star. And yeah, you got to push through the download the download,
Gabriel Flores 31:31
and just remember, you only have to be three of 10 to make a couple million baby to make that 300 You're making some money. Now, what would you say? What is, you know, now that you know, your business has been growing? What would you say was probably the one of the things that you wish you probably knew? You know, when you started it?
Jonathan Loomis 31:50
That's a great question.
Yeah, I think a heads up about the pandemic of 2020 would have been
Gabriel Flores 32:05
definitely, definitely, that I'm sure. How is that for for baseball as well, I'm sure that was pretty rocky.
Jonathan Loomis 32:12
Oh, it was really bad. So let me I'll tell you that I'll tell you this. Yes. You know, this is this is our again, put yourself in position where you own, you own a retail brand. You've got 11 brick and mortar stores across the country with like, these are your own stores, you're only selling your stuff at the store. This is not like a wholesale relationship. This is like you pay a lease on a space. You have employees and you sell your product, right? So I've got 11 of those. I've got and then I've got this ecommerce platform. Alright, so the pandemic comes now the pandemic hit, and basically in the United States, everything shut down mid March, right? Yep. of last year now. Our business on the retail side really relies on spring training, the regular season and then travel baseball in the summer. Okay, so we're in the middle of spring training. Last year, things are going great. Right. And there's this kind of like bit of a buzz about, you know, the virus and how it's impacting, you know, Southeast Asia, right. And then, you know, mid March comes and it was like Major League Baseball says they're shutting it down. Right. So we had to hear I am and hear you. I have not just one store in in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is one of the two big spring training baseball locations. I have like four locations. Oh, I have a year round store. And then I have like two or three pop ups. And, and they're really big economic lifts for us. And they're important. It's an important part of our like, selling season. And they went to zero they everything went to 00. Right. So we're like we should we do like a million dollars in sales on the retail side in the month of March. And it went to zero. We got we got to march like they're 12. And it went to zero right? So and then we rely on the next kicker is Major League Baseball. So we have stores around stadiums that rely on the flow of attendance and they come in to these baseball games and they leave and they buy some stuff from us and they go home. And then we're getting word that like okay, the Major League Baseball season is being delayed. All unknown. And then here's one thing that happened early to that, that people talk about or not most people don't realize, but college sports called it early. So in like early April or even late March, NCAA said we're not playing and we are we have a really big presence for the College World Series. Baseball college. Well, it's like, here I am in March or like early April thing, okay, just last spring training. I don't know when Major League Baseball is gonna play. I just Just last cultural series, and I'm doing the math, like, I'm just adding an up on my calculator, right? Like, okay, I lost this, this this. And I'm like, we're not gonna make it. And what we had just done prior to this, leading up to 2020, we had just built a store in on the Field of Dreams movie site, yeah, Dyersville, Iowa. And we just built a store in St. Louis, right by Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, and that's one of the high attended franchises, right, so I had just put in, like, over a million dollars in new store expansion. And, you know, we're in this growth path, we're trying to grow and build our footprint, and brick and mortar was being really successful for us. So like, we kept going all in. And we just, we continue to go on, and we just built this, we just took all over, you know, a lot of our residual cash, and we put it into these new expansion. And I think, you know, rightfully so like, knowing, not knowing there was a pandemic coming, it was the right move. And then we're sitting here in April, and you know, we're just doing the math like, Okay, we owe these leases, leases, we have this kind of staff structure, we have this type of inventory that we just purchased, and to sell during these times. And we weren't gonna like, like, we were just like, we're not gonna make it, we're gonna have to, we're gonna, we're gonna lose everything. Right? And so it's me and my team, and you're in a war room, saying, What is everything we could do? Right? So you're calling landlord saying, Hey, I can't pay you, we got to defer this rents we got until we can get back open. Unfortunately, a lot of employees are furloughed during this time. So you're like, look, we can't pay you guys don't work anymore. We'll bring you back. We can, you're having all these conversations with you know, we have I've got 140 160 employees up and down, depending on what time of the year it is. And so you're having conversations with everybody, and it's just it was overwhelming. And then you have your own personal stuff going on. You're like, oh, like your kids are out of school. And you know, whatever it is, it was just absolutely devastating. And it was a function of like getting out of it. Right was I mean a lot of sleepless nights, credible, credibly, just difficult conversations. And what ultimately ended up being the savior were two things. One is, everybody went to go online to shop. And if you had a really strong and this goes back to my diversification point that I made earlier, it's like, we were diversified. So like, all these, you know, everyone's bored at home, and they go on their phones, and they're just surfing the internet, they're getting our ads, and they're buying stuff, and they're missing baseball, and they're buying our T shirts and our hats. And, and, and we, although it's not a one for one trade off, like we certainly saw some some dip in 2020, it was a tremendous lift online, and to the point where it saved us. And then government subsidies came in with the paycheck Protection Program and all these other disaster loans and like, we were able to tap into some federal federal money. And the combination between that and, and strong ecommerce performance during that time saved us and but if you would have put a gun to my head in April and be like, you know, is online going to kind of double over the next four months, I would have said no way like people are going to be scared at home. No one wants to spend money when they don't know if they're gonna have a job. And like that, just that wasn't the case. It was like it was gangbusters online for
Gabriel Flores 38:23
us. Yeah, I remember actually, you know, when I was in Syracuse for my capstone, I did an interview for we interviewed you. And we had that discussion. I think it was right. And during that time, which was, which was quite quite interesting time. So looking back on everything. What advice would you give yourself? What What advice would you give a younger job?
Jonathan Loomis 38:47
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so without getting nuts and bolts on it, I, you know, like, there's always little things that you say, Oh, well, you know, don't invest in that. And you should, you should have maybe put the store you know, here or there. But like, look, at the end of the day. The advice I would give myself is keep going. Don't stop there were so many times where I felt really like, Man, I don't know if I want to do this anymore. Like this seems really hard or like I don't know what to do. Just keep going. Right? Right. And that was that was that would have saved me some grief if I if I would have just kept telling myself that because the success which which we've gotten to now was over was it a accumulation of a lot of like a lot of hard work right. And, and I think entrepreneurs sometimes or people who want to start doing business think oh, man, I know I'm gonna start this business. I don't have to work for the man anymore. I gotta like, create my own hours. And there's some truth to that, but I tell you it, what you gain and maybe being able to like have a little bit of flexibility in your schedule you lose in the Unknown. On and the risk that you're taking. And just the overall just heartache of just being when you have a bunch of employees and maybe working for you, or whatever it is, you're the one that cares the most about it right? So you kind of feel a little low. Like, here's the other thing, people with Arca it's very lonely. Yeah, it's really weird. Because when you're working for a business, and you're working in a normal job, you're kind of you're around a lot of people and you're kind of in the same boat. You know what I mean? It's like, Hey, we're all working for so and so it's our disaster, but it's collectively. Yeah. And you build camaraderie with people around that. Now, when you're a business owner. And you're kind of you're the boss, and you're, it's like, it all comes down to you, right? What happens is it kind of separates you a little bit and you find that like you what you have to do and your experiences are, don't map on well with other people that might be your friends, or might be people around you. And so you find yourself alone, and oftentimes don't know who to ask or talk to about things because they are not experiencing the same thing that you're experiencing. It's a very weird feeling, actually. So even though like, and I have good friends who are entrepreneurs and started their own brands and businesses, and they're surrounded by people all the time, and they have a celebrity, like, you know, this micro celebrity kind of status, or whatever it is, but they just had mental breakdowns because they realize they felt so in their own head and they couldn't talk to anybody. I would that would probably be the next thing I would, a young John would say is like, Hey, be prepared for this. And there's ways you can navigate that.
Gabriel Flores 41:37
Now, last question, Would you do it all again?
Jonathan Loomis 41:40
Oh, and twice on Sunday.
Gabriel Flores 41:42
That's what I'm talking about. Jon Loomis, thank you again, the Chief Financial Officer or financial officer from baseball ism. I appreciate your time. Thank you again so much for joining me this evening. For ladies and gentlemen at home. Thank you and good night.