Sports can have a positive impact on local businesses, as athletic events draw large crowds and can bring a community together. One local business owner has used sports to boost her business.
Lynette Payne, owner of White or Wheat Sandwich Shop located at 70th and Van Dorn Street in Lincoln, has partnered with local high school teams to provide meals for the athletes. Food plays a vital role in fueling athletes’ bodies and that is why White or Wheat is the perfect option for game days.
White or Wheat is best known for its home made bread that is baked fresh every morning. Because the shop is located near Lincoln East and Lincoln Pius X its main crowd is high school students.
The biggest seller on the menu is the “Student Special” which includes: a sandwich, chips, pickle, cookie, ice cream and a drink all for $7.99.
Lynette bought White or Wheat in 2008 and she said her main marketing strategy has always been by word-of-mouth. Her walk in crowd really helps bring in the customers and catering orders. The more people go and talk about her business, the more teams hear about it and want to order from her.
“When others eat here and go tell their friends about their experience, that is how I originally got introduced to sports teams,” Lynette said.
This strategy has continued to work over the years, as she continues bringing in new customers and new teams. Although she did not originally plan to have her business based around sports teams, with the help from customers spreading awareness about her business, she has partnered with a variety of sports teams to provide their meals.
Lynette also provides free delivery for everyone. Some of the sports she works with include soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball, golf, tennis and dance teams. The support from these sports teams has helped her business become a success.
Lincoln East Naires their coach, Sarah Hartman said White or Wheat is her team’s go to place for a catered meal in between practices or for competitions. It is cost effective and she loves that each girl is able to customize their own sandwich unlike Subway where you can only get a platter of a few different options.
The dance team caters 20-25 sandwiches at a time and Hartman said that the girls appreciate that there are gluten free and vegetarian options at White or Wheat.
“It is the perfect meal because it is not too filling and doesn’t make them feel sick after eating and then going to dance,” Sarah said.
Though her main sports caters are for high school teams, Lynette said she is always looking to branch out to new teams. Former Nebraska men’s basketball player Sam Griesel said he has ate at White or Wheat. Being a hometown kid, Griesel likes supporting local businesses and White or Wheat has a great student special deal that he has even mentioned to other athletes.
Griesel said it was the place they all went for lunch on game days. He said it was not only the food, but the whole environment he will always remember.
“I think that’s the special part about bringing people together through sports and using small businesses,” Griesel said.
Consuming the right nutrients can help athletes recover faster from injuries and reduce the risk of future injuries. Athletes pay close attention to their food choices to make sure they are consuming foods that are benefitting both their physical and mental health and that is why White or Wheat is such a good option for them.
“I definitely think that White or Wheat could be a potential post game meal or post practice meal,” Griesel said. “White or Wheats student special fits into our diet as athletes and I think it would be a great option right before we leave for away games before we get on the plane since the majority of our meals are provided by the hotel.”
Sports have the unique ability to bring people together from all walks of life. Regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or background, people can bond over their love for a specific sport, team or player. While spectators share the excitement and energy of the game and cheering on their team, they also make connections with others. Sports can break down barriers and people from diverse backgrounds come together in a common space, united by their passion for the sport. By providing a platform for social engagement, sports can help build stronger and more inclusive communities for people to form meaningful relationships.
Catering for sports teams can be profitable and a rewarding venture for a local business. From offering specialized sandwiches for each player and her customers spreading the word about her business, Lynette has attracted new sports teams and customers. This also helps build a reputation for White or Wheat as a reliable and trustworthy provider. It leads to the word-of-mouth marketing that Lynette relies on to further expand her business.