PITTSBURGH DISTRICT OFFICE
Contact: Janet Heyl (412) 395-6560, ext. 103
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Local proprietor carves up win as Western Pennsylvania SBA Small Business Person of the Year award
LORETTO, PA – Residents from 37 different Cambria County zip codes know where the beef is – because they can visit Jay Smithmyer, proprietor of Smithmyer’s Superette, who is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Western Pennsylvania’s Small Business Person of the Year.
Smithmeyer and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh during SBA’s Western Pennsylvania Awards Luncheon May 25th, held in conjunction with the 49th annual celebration of National Small Business Week.
Smithmyer, 65, has worked in the small business sector his entire life, beginning with working for his father, who founded and sold several small businesses: a service station, coal-mine stripping business and TV picture tube manufacturing venture. His last project, a superette, was purchased by Jay and his wife, Louise, 40 years ago.
“I majored in economics and worked in the store starting in my freshman year at Saint Francis University,” Smithmyer said. “I decided that I enjoyed small town living, made a commitment to stay here and decided to focus on why people shop at our store and what draws them in.”
According to Smithmyer, the major reason people patronize the superette is the selection of fresh-cut meats and its customer service.
“We focused on meats and still do, we can cut 200 different pieces of beef, chicken and poultry,” he said. “Our meat isn’t pre-packaged and we smoke our own meats and offer unique products like homemade Jack Daniels burgers for grilling. We even carry your groceries to the car.”
Smithmyer said a superette sports 5,000-10,000 square feet of selling space and stocks 4,000 to 8,000 items. Since 1965, he’s seen many items come and go.
“When I first started about one-third of the superette was a hardware store and we stocked a section of matches,” he said. “Many name brands have come and gone, but if you walk through the store, you will still find everything you need. We sell the top selling items in each grouping, just not all 33 sizes.”
During his tenure as Smithmyers’s proprietor, he’s also ushered in numerous offerings reflective of societal changes.
In the early ‘70s, Smithmyer said he read a small article on the state legalizing the sale of self-service gasoline. He applied for a license, and Smithmyer became one of the first owner-operators of self-serve gasoline stations in the entire state.
“About that time, the convenience store concept was developing, so we devoted the front end of our store to that,” he said. “Back then we used to sell frozen sandwiches that had to be heated in a microwave, now we prepare approximately 200 fresh-made sandwiches each day.”
Smithmyer, with the help of his family and the Saint Francis University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) also has ventured into social media with a blog and Facebook site as well as an email that informs customers about weekly in-store specials. He said the Facebook site has approximately 600 friends, which is about the same number of people who shop at the superette each day.
A genuine fondness for his hometown has led Smithmyer to become a local curator of Loretto’s past, utilizing wall and upper shelf space to display pictures of the town and products from a bygone era – such as glass-bottle milk and soda containers. Customers regularly donate items knowing their treasures will find a safe haven at the superette.
Smithmyer often donates anonymously to persons in need and lives by his personal mantra: “I like to measure my life not by what I make, but what I do for others,” Smithmyer said. “I’ve never gone to bed hungry and I never want to see anyone else go to bed hungry.”
According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, Smithmyer truly exemplifies what it means to be a small business person of the year. “He knows his community, his niche and knows how to position his superette for its continued growth among the large, chain-store grocers,” Knoblock said. “And most importantly, he’s remembered to give back to the community.”
Smithmyer said it was an honor to be selected as the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year. “My family and cow-workers are the reason this superette works,” he said. “I’m really just a figurehead, and I really enjoy working here and being around other people.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.
Note: If you would like to speak with Jay Smithmyer or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103
Posted on behalf of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates. Joyce Kane is the owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Administrative support company, providing virtual office support, personal and executive assistance, creative design services and light bookkeeping. Cybertary works with businesses and busy individuals to help them work 'on' their business rather than 'in' their business. www.Cybertary.com/Pittsburgh