Business Q & A

A conversation with Tad Snarenberger

Tad Snarenberger doesn’t hesitate to admit that the idea of owning his own retail store scares him.

The former advertising salesman, member of the Brite Voice Systems team and die-hard Shocker fan has taken full ownership of what used to be Sports Time Fan Shop East in Cambridge Market, at 21st and Webb. Soon, the logo of Tad’s Locker Room will replace the old sign, as partner Joe Ward remains in operation with his Sports Time Fan Shop in NewMarket Square.

The 6,000-square-foot store sells sports logo clothing and memorabilia with a heavy black and gold flavor that isn’t going to change, Snarenberger said.

“This is retail,” he said. “It’s a little bit scary. But at the same time, I feel very, very blessed … and I’m really looking forward to growing this store.”

Snarenberger, a 1977 Wichita State University graduate, isn’t kidding about the “blessed” part. In the past year, he’s walked away from an accident on the Kansas Turnpike near Lawrence – on the way to pick up some Jayhawk T-shirts – and narrowly avoided another accident in Wichita.

That’s why his advertising and his store logo apparel will include three letters: PIF, or Pay It Forward.

“I mean, the past year or two has been up and down,” he said. “But all you have to do is turn on the television when you think your life isn’t that great and you can always find someone who really needs help.

“So I intend to make this a major project of the store, to figure out how to do some good, to raise some money or contribute something significant to our community.”

Isn’t your business a little scary in itself, relying on the success of our local teams?

“It sure is, but this is a special time for us. And our business model is set up for the down times anyway. We approach it this way: When our local teams are doing well, that’s when we pay the bank a little more. But if the teams don’t win, you’re sitting around here watching the paint dry.”

Isn’t this a great time to be in the Shocker merchandise business?

“It sure is. That’s my school. They gave me an education. (Pauses.) Well, not really. We paid them for it.

“I just hope that we’re paying Coach (Gregg) Marshall enough to keep him here. They are really family people, and I think they’re comfortable here.”

Why retail?

“What man wouldn’t love coming to work every day to talk sports?

“I like people. I like talking with people and building relationships. I had that with selling advertising, and I have it here. It’s a great life.”

Who are the teams you rely upon to be successful?

“Well, Wichita State, obviously. We’re two miles from them, and they’re our school. And KU and K-State, OU and Nebraska. And there’s obviously the Chiefs. It would be great if the Chiefs would start winning again. The Royals, too.”

Would Peyton Manning at quarterback help your Chiefs business?

“Yeah, it probably would. And it fits the Chiefs’ profile, going after older quarterbacks.”

What changes do you have in mind for the store?

“Well, I want people to see product first, so I’m going to have two registers set up in the middle on the wood floor. I want to create a different feel and look.

“And there will be more Shocker gear. They’re what drive our business.”

What will remain the same?

“We’ll still do what we do best: We’ll sell all the clothing, and we’ll still bring in people for autograph signings.”