Facility sharing is not a new concept for the Ski Pole and Tredway Pools Plus. In fact, this is the second time the two firms have teamed up to use the same storefront. They did it back in the late 1980s, and after an 18-year hiatus, they're doing it again.
The Ski Pole, owned and operated by Dave and Irene Lutz, is the primary shop from October through March, when the shop's merchandise is replaced by John Denny's Tredway Pools products. The shop is at the west end of Covington Plaza and has both names on the marquee above the entrance.
According to the two owners it's a natural win-win situation. Denny says that “the fact that we're seasonal opposites makes for a wonderful relationship. Sharing this facility has turned out to be a great business deal.” Lutz added, “we work together beautifully, we're each responsible for the utilities and rent during our season and split other expenses like carpet cleaning and maintenance. Besides that,” said Lutz, “I don't need to be here in the summer. That's when I catch up on all the jobs I didn't get done during the winter because I was here six days a week.”
During the past week, Lutz has been methodically storing skis, boots, helmets and clothing in the loft at the rear of the store, while Denny's staff has been bringing in outdoor kitchens, grills, patio furniture, pool covers and solar blankets from its main store at 8301 Lima Road in advance of the official changing of the guard March 31.
In the winter, Tredway maintains a rack of pool chemicals and filters, which Lutz gladly sells. “However,” he says, “I always point out to Tredway customers that I don't know a whole lot about chemicals, so if I get a question I can't answer I give them John's phone number. And during the spring and summer months, some skis, boots and clothing are on display at the rear of the store. If John's people have questions about anything they call me and I'll come in or set up a time to meet them at the store. We sell for each other, record the sales and settle up later. It just works!”
The Ski Pole, which has been in operation for 38 years at several locations throughout town, was approached by then-Tredway owner, John Tredway about sharing the store in the Village at Coventry. “We operated similar to the way we are now for years until he built a big new store on Lima Road and decided there was not enough business there to continue the arrangement. That was before the southwest was built up like it is today.
“John Denny, who was a Tredway employee back then and now owns the company, remembered how we shared the store in Coventry. He came to me and offered to rekindle the original arrangement. We've been sharing here in Covington Plaza for the past three years, and it's working better than ever.”
“I felt Tredway needed a presence in southwest Fort Wayne,” said Denny. “Sharing with the Ski Pole was successful before and I knew it would still be workable. It's a great fit and one we plan to continue for many years.”
Though one can find gas stations and fast-food restaurants in the same buildings today, when it comes to facility sharing, Tredway and the Ski Pole were way ahead of their time. “Our seasonal situations make for a unique combination,” says Denny. “I think it would be difficult to find two other businesses that could make such an arrangement work.”