How Pannell Swim Shop was started with $24.00
While in college in the early 80's my summer job was managing a local country club swimming pool and coaching their swim team. Its an amazingly rewarding experience to teach young children how to swim and to coach an 8 year old to a 15 second drop in a 25 yard free. When you're 6, 8, 10 years old vast improvement comes with almost every swim which creates loads of accolades from their parents. Now that's fun!
However the most amazing thing of all was how could a kid continue to loose their goggles over and over ever single day. Hence came the ideal of buying and re-selling swim goggles.
I took $24.00, which was my approximate net worth at the time and purchased a dozen pair of swim goggles. After a couple swim practices I had already parlayed the $24 investment into $48 and more money to purchase additional goggles. After quickly realizing goggles were cool, yet essential and came in numerous colors, I felt like I had something. Oh my how times have changed, now a days $24 dollars won't even get your a pair of mirrored speed sockets.
The demand for swim goggles grew fast as I started to purchase different styles and colors. This in turn lead to team suits, kickboards, pull buoys and all the other swimming paraphenalia that
the competitive swimmer needed. Over the next few years Pannell Swim Shop came to be.
On a shoe string budget and very little money to work with, growth was slow but steady. I started selling first out of the trunk of my car, then came my apartment (which is now section 8 housing) which lead to the primo location of the first floor of a retirement home. Here comes the best part of all, Pannell Swim Shop had a doorman, yes it's very own doorman!
Imagine for a moment the scenario of little kids running in and out of a retirement home in wet swim suits, bouncing off the walls in route to swim practice. The shop was not only in an unusual place but it had character and loads of it. French doors at the entrance, "puffy white stuff " for the ceiling that emulated the feeling of clouds over head, topped off with a grand show room of 400 square feet of wall to wall swimwear. My desk was right in the middle of the show room, the center of it all! So you can imagine the activity of kids and adults of all ages hovering around thinking "what the"? We had the custom cap of each team we worked with along the top of the wall as a border which created a lot of pointing and talk that lead to of all things, team spirit and a sense of pride. Ok, Ok and
the most unusual, strange looking swim shop in all of America.
The high light of each day was loading up my 1979 blue Pinto full of swim suits and going door to door……….uh I mean "pool to pool" selling the latest and greatest suits and goggles. I can vividly
recall driving up to the down town YMCA, popping the trunk and declaring "swimsuit sale"! Even today I have parents who now have swimmers of their own telling their children " I remember when he
started selling goggles out of the trunk of his car".
The years have gone by and the merchandise has become more technical and expensive but like a fine wine swimming only gets better with time. - Rick Pannell