Supplement Superstores: Our Story
Written by: Andy Frisella, CEO
How it all began
The history of Supplement Superstores dates back to our humble beginnings in 1999 in Springfield, MO. Chris Klein and I were college students at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University). Buddies since high school, we both had solid knowledge about working out and supplements and were interested in starting a business together; a store combining those two disciplines seemed like a great idea. It sounded easy, but we soon faced the financial challenges that any start up faces, so we did what most college kids do, we maxed out every credit card we owned! This helped us buy a few products and supplies. We figured by opening a store, we wouldn’t have to get “real jobs” and customers would flock to the store when the doors opened. That year we signed our first lease in a building across from the original Bass Pro Shops store. And so it began…
On the opening day of business we received our first harsh reality check. With tens of thousands of dollars tied up in the lease, products, and shelving … we sold a whopping $7 that day! Truth be told, that $7 sale was a friend who bought something because he felt sorry for us. This was the first realization that it would be long hard road and there was a lot more to running a successful business than just showing up and opening the doors. With all of the initial investment tied up in the lease and products, we failed to plan for one VERY important component of business – marketing. This misstep taught us both a very important lesson: build the business one customer at a time.
This meant getting out of the store and going into the community. We went business to business to let people know who Supplement Superstores was, talking to gyms, holding nutrition clinics in the store after hours … basically anything we could do that would help people get to know the Supplement Superstore name. By pounding the pavement and doing it the old fashioned way, Chris and I experienced first hand the importance of getting people excited about Supplement Superstores and delivering a first class customer experience. Was it easy? Absolutely not! But we learned the importance of going above and beyond for every customer and helping them get results so that they’d tell other people and spread the word!
During this time, neither Chris nor I could afford a place to live because we had sunk everything we had into the store. To compensate, we lived in the back of the store, slept on an old mattress someone gave us, and showered at the gym and at friends’ houses. It wasn’t quite the entrepreneurial experience we’d dreamed of, but we were committed to it and weren’t about to give up. It took over 8 months before the first Supplement Superstore broke $200 in sales for a single day. Eventually, all the word of mouth marketing started to pay off and business began to grow.
In 2006, an unexpected opportunity showed up. Supplement Superstores was given the chance to buy a chain of retail stores in St. Louis, MO. While it would require leveraging everything Chris and I had built to that point, we knew in our hearts it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We learned about the opportunity on a Monday, and I moved back to St Louis on a Wednesday. Yes, that’s really how quick it happened! Chris stayed in Springfield to run the original store, and I moved to St. Louis to open the four newly acquired stores. In August of 2006, Supplement Superstores went from one store to five stores overnight. Later that month, we were able to open a second store in Springfield, MO bringing the total to six.
Running six stores presented many unique challenges S2 hadn’t faced before. Just a few months prior, Chris and I had only been running one store. This was a big change, but, as always, we were up to the challenge! We dug our heels in deep, scrimped where we could, and continued to focus on the key thing that had helped us grow S2… getting people results.
We began to realize that by helping people in our own communities to live a healthier lifestyle, we were in turn… creating healthier communities! Every employee you meet in the stores is passionate and committed to helping you reach your goals, no matter what they are. Want to lose 50 pounds or gain 25 pounds of muscle? We will not only create a plan for you to get there, but encourage you along the way.
In order to help people reach their goals, the education of our employees in the store is paramount. While every employee had originally been required to become a Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist, we soon realized that our customers needed help beyond sports nutrition. Today, every one of our employees is required to become a N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer as well. What that means to you as you walk in the store is that every employee is not only fully capable of writing a comprehensive nutrition plan for you but can also help you understand what exercises and functional movements will help you reach your goals faster! At the end of the day it still comes down to the same principle I’ve said before… Getting People Results! That’s why Supplement Superstores is here, and it will always be our motivation!
And here we are in 2013… almost 15 years since we opened our first store and we’re proud to say we’re still the hometown boys. Chris and I live here in St Louis and are proud to be a part of this city and state. We have worked our asses off to get to this point, and have absolutely no intention of slowing down. There are now 13 Supplement Superstores in Missouri and Illinois and we’re about to open our 14th store. Who said two kids from South County can’t make things happen?? Now did we believe we’d be here as we were sleeping in the back of the old Springfield store? Maybe not… but today, total world domination is our goal! We want to educate as many people as we possibly can and help them achieve a healthier lifestyle. We’re proud of who we are and what we do, and we simply want to share a piece of our Midwest / Supplement Superstores mentality with the world!
It has been a long and arduous road to get to where we are today, but we still know there is a long road ahead. Today, Supplement Superstores continues to operate with the very same values and approach that Chris and I have used since day one:
Get People Results.
Make People Happy.
Each one of us at S2, from Chris and I to our newest employee, is bound by these common values. If you haven’t had a chance to read all of the S2 Core Values yet, I suggest you do! This simple document is the driving force behind our whole company and what motivates us to do our best day in and day out. It’s what we live and work (and play) by.
We know that absolutely NONE of this would be possible without all of you out there who have supported us from the beginning. We believe we have the best customers in the world. In fact, many of you are not just customers… you’re friends and buddies. Supplement Superstores isn’t just a place you pick up your protein, it’s turned into a big family… and you are a part of that. Thank you for believing in us and helping us to help others. It’s a tremendously gratifying feeling that keeps us motivated every day to keep growing and dominating.