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'Life is Good' at Synergy Sportswear

Business Brief

Derek Way, manager, and Donna Ward, bookkeeper/buyer, stand ready to help you find the perfect outfit at Synergy in North Conway. Linda Tucker. (click for larger version)
May 07, 2009
The store, which is painted a very upbeat shade of blue, is much larger than I expected and the variety of product is impressive. When I stopped in the other day, the manager, Derek Way, was wearing shorts, shades, sandals and a comfy-casual short-sleeve shirt. I had a long talk with Way, who turns out to be an oxymoronic type of guy; a deeply intense, yet laid-back, individual. By that, I mean he is seriously focused on recognizing and appreciating people's diversity, whether customers or staff.

Way has been managing the store for the past 12 years and he admits to not knowing where the time has gone. It seems he came one day, liked it and decided not to leave.

Great demand for great product

There are six Synergy stores throughout the country. All are owned by partners Gary Tateosian and Lorrie Scholsser. Three of the stores are in Florida and three are located here in New England. The New England stores include North Conway and Keene, and Northampton, Mass. Although the six stores carry similar product, each store has its own niche. At the North Conway store, they specialize in optics.

According to Way, sunglasses are a popular year-round seller and in the fall and winter they do a large sales volume in ski goggles. They cater to all types of athletes and adventurers including skiers, hikers, ice climbers, runners, motorcyclists and mountaineers.

"When people know you take your business seriously, they trust you," Way says. "My staff and I have worked very hard to build a great reputation. I'm very proud of what we've done. We try to address all budgets and concentrate on stocking brand name products that have been proven to perform well.

"Everything we carry rotates around the optics," he continues. "In the winter, we typically carry about nine brands and over 90 models of goggles. We carry 13 to 15 different sunglass lines. Eyewear is a service oriented product. Synergy carries everything from the basics to the advanced, but the brands that do well are from the companies that stand behind their products."

Continuing on, Way says, "Some people may have a misconception that specialty stores are more expensive. We accommodate all budgets. I feel very confident that we can compete in price with any of the large, impersonal stores while offering so much more in terms of expertise. We really have faith in, and guarantee, our merchandise."

Sales associates there to help

Over the course of his 12 years, he's learned a lot about people, what they want, what they need and what products provide a good value for the money. He welcomes feedback from the customers and encourages input from his sales team.

"I can't say enough about our staff," says Derek. "I think one of our biggest strengths is our customer service. We also have a lot of great product that truly sells itself. There's a demand for it; just under two years ago we had our second expansion and tripled the size of the store."

The staffing level of the store varies depending on seasonal demands. Way, Donna Ward, Teala Higgins, Pat Gray, Cheryl Quimby and Kelly Evans have all been there for years. Recently, Frank Filosa joined the team and Claire Alden and Allie Kovalik have returned from college for the past three summers to round out the team.

In addition to Synergy's many optical lines, including Bolle, Kaenon, Maui Jim, Native, Oakley, Ray Ban, Serengeti, Smith, Suncloud and Teva, they carry many brand name clothes and shoes that complement the outdoor life. Their 'Life is Good' clothing is joined with Columbia, White Sierra and North Face. They carry Crocs, Merrell and Reef shoes and sandals.

"What makes us different is that we only carry quality products, not just products from companies with a huge advertising budget or endorsed by famous people. We focus on the brands that address the whole ball of wax — price, performance, quality and service. That's the synergy we're looking to deliver."

Synergy is located at 2706 White Mountain Highway in North Conway or on the web at www.synergysportswear.com/northconway.

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