Feature Articles 
Play It Again Sports 5/30/17  06/08/17 4:14:44 PM

Play It Again Sports has both new and used equipment for almost any sport.

Focus on Customer and Community
Earn Play It Again Sports the Win

By Dan McCann
The Daily Record

A top-notch set of golf clubs banished to a dark, dusty corner in the garage. A baseball glove – too small for one aspiring star, just right for another – that still has plenty of game left in it. They have a place at a win-win retail concept revived in Omaha in 2014 and rewarded in 2017.
Play It Again Sports is the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for May.
Focused on making Play It Again Sports the neighborhood sporting goods store in Omaha, “Team PIAS (Play It Again Sports),” which includes owner Rick Messina and his wife Cyndi, rallies around three key operating goals:
• Provide new and gently-used sporting goods at a reasonable price so athletes of all ages and means can participate in sports and fitness activities
• Conduct all business in a fair and ethical manner and treat all customers with dignity and respect
• Give back to the community by supporting local youth sports programs

         Rick Messina                      Cyndi Messina
Located at 8453 West Center Road, Play It Again Sports pays cash for gently-used gear or offers a store credit worth 20 percent more. Complementing the selection of quality used gear, customers can browse new sporting goods and fitness equipment from over 100 brand name vendors. Messina wants everyone who walks through the door (or visits www.playitagainsportsomaha.com) to have a stand-out experience.
“We want to always provide exceptional customer service in a clean and fun environment. Our store offers a positive shopping experience and value to the customers that no other sporting goods store can. It’s one of the things that can set your business apart from others of its kind,” he shared. “We always try to greet everyone at the door – many by name – and try to find out how we can help meet their needs. Sometimes that’s advising them what not to buy.”
He continued, “We help parents fit their children with the right equipment at a reasonable price and offer many services at no cost. If someone purchases a bat and tape, we’ll wrap it for them. The same goes with hockey sticks or installing a facemask on a batting helmet. We want to make sure each customer’s individual needs are met in a timely manner.”
For Messina, serving the customer follows a long period of serving his country. He retired from the U.S. Air Force three years ago, capping a 22-year career that culminated at Offutt Air Force Base. For life’s next adventure, he bought the Play It Again Sports franchise. The brand has been around for more than three decades with approximately 300 stores across the U.S. and Canada.
“I opened the store in October 2014 and have received a lot of positive feedback about bringing the brand back to the Omaha market after having been absent for six years,” Messina said.  
In addition to Cyndi, who handles the books and keeps the website up-to-date, Team PIAS includes a full-time manager and six part-time sales associates.
“We have a lot of fun with each other and with our customers. All employees are former or current athletes who love to help people find the gear they need,” Rich Messina said.
He offers a profit-sharing program that allows all employees who have accomplished requisite training to be vested in the store’s success.
“Since they directly benefit from the growth of the business, they are engaged in meeting the goals that drive that growth,” he said. “It’s great to have team members who know our daily, monthly and annual goals. They are passionate about our brand, the success of the business and they do what they can to meet and exceed those goals.”
In the two-and-a-half years Messina’s Play It Again Sports has been open, the team has discovered the categories which work best and refined their selection to meet the demands of the Omaha market.  
“When we opened, we mostly sold used and low-cost new equipment to cater to our largest clientele – the value shopper. We continue to bring in a greater selection of higher-quality new gear desired by the more competitive athletes,” Messina said. “With the closing of other sporting goods stores in the metro, we are dramatically increasing our selection of hockey and lacrosse equipment.”
Messina sees more selection for the customer – and more growth for the store – ahead.
“We are excited about the growth of our business,” he said. “It’s taken off much faster than expected – especially as we develop more relationships with teams and leagues, athletes, parents and coaches. We are actively seeking more space to be able to offer more products and services.”
Most rewarding, he said, are those relationships the team has built and seeing “how we can help meet our customers’ needs while saving them money. I like the fact that we offer new and gently-used gear that allows people to play a sport or get some fitness gear that they may not have otherwise been able to afford.”
Further embracing that theme, Play It Again is actively involved in supporting multiple local youth sports programs.
“We have many teams, leagues and schools that are part of our Rebate Program. When their players, parent or coaches shop at Play It Again Sports, we track their purchases and give back 10 percent of their sales at the end of the year,” Messina explained.
The store also donates new and used equipment to organizations such as PACE (Police Athletics for Community Engagement) and the North Omaha Athletic Association “to help underprivileged youth have the opportunity to enjoy sports programs those organizations offer.”
Firmly established now in Omaha’s retail arena, Messina said it is an honor to be selected as the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for May: “I know there are many other deserving small businesses that also strive to provide a great product with exceptional customer service.”
United Republic Bank sponsors the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month award. To nominate a small business online, visit www.omahachamber.org.
Nominees must be current Chamber members with 50 employees or less.

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