Video Transcript: Mel Tracy Testimonial
(Description: Wild Birds Unlimited logo and “Joyful Family Business” appears on screen then fades. Next we see Mel Tracy on screen and “Mel Tracy – Palos Park, IL” on the lower left of the screen then fades.)
[Mel:] My name is Mel Tracy. My wife Laura and I purchased the Palos Park, Illinois store from Laura’s parents in April of 2014. Laura grew up with their parents owning the store and it was a wonderful transition for us to be able to take over that store, keep it in the family.
So I spent 25 years on the trading floors in downtown Chicago. I was at the CBOE and the CME. After 25 years my wife had been raising the four kids, the kids were getting older, she went back into the workforce and was able to carry our insurance for us. I was able to kind of finally venture out and do something I really loved and now was passionate about. That’s when we made that transition, purchase the store and we’ve never looked back.
Being on the trading floor screaming email and every day, I was ready to be done with that kind of a lifestyle and being able to be in the store every day and have conversations with people and real connections with people has been the most fun part of the whole experience for me. Having this human connection is in you know having the birds has just been fantastic.
When I first started out, I had no retail experience so I needed all of the different systems that WBU provides. And I needed someone to explain those things to me and that’s where my new business coach was fundamental to our success. I scheduled weekly appointments after a period of time of trying to you know get things done on my own and I realized it wasn’t going to work. So I scheduled a weekly call and had this business coach really walk me through each individual process so that I knew how to work the inventory systems, I knew how to work the POS system, and I knew how to do all the accounting that needs to get done and not get caught up in the daily drama of these little problems. And even with the little problems, my coach always had a better idea than I did about how to get through these little dramas so that I could focus on my long-term success. My business coach was absolutely fundamental to my having success.
So one of my favorite times of the year is going to this annual conference that we call ELC. It’s absolutely a great time, I get to revisit with all the people I went through my training class with which we have bonded and become great friends. And I get to meet a whole slew of new people and there are so many ideas and it’s such a powerful energy experience getting all these ideas from people and learning from their success so that I’m not having to invent everything I can go to these people and say hey how are you having success with getting new customers or how are you having success selling these feeders. And all these ideas just gel together it’s a very exciting process. When I went through my first training class I remember one of the guys, Ed, had said that there’s nothing here that conflicts with my personal moral code. And that’s what I really believe like there’s no issues I have you know being on the trading floor and all these other things or it’s like morally ambiguous this is just giving people joy and there’s nothing better.
This year my daughter and I, because I own the store now, we’re able to take a 3-week backpack trip. It was a life dream of mine and it was absolutely fantastic. Never would have happened if I had my other job. The other aspect was, a son I left at home, Will, I brought him into the business taught, him how to work the register, taught him how to open and close, and do all these tasks and now he is like a fully-fledged third generation member of this family business. So that has been just absolutely fantastic. You know there’s the grandfather, there’s our generation, and now there’s my son, Will, who’s been and the customers absolutely love him. It’s been so, so fun. He’s young, he’s 18, and he brings this great energy to this store. It’s really great to have had all three of our generations there. It’s been just a wonderful whole family experience.