“You really only have two choices right now: You can take your ball and go home, or you can lean down and put your shoulder into it,” said Cary Gregory, owner of GettysGear, located at 777 Baltimore St. in the Old Gettysburg Village in Gettysburg.
The store, which also has an online nation footprint, sells unique items from Gettysburg.
“The shop owes its existence to a desire to help smaller businesses,” said Gregory. “It’s probably been about ten years now. [We were thinking] ‘Boy, somebody should really do something to help with community outreach for the small businesses.’ So, we started this thing called ‘Great Gettysburg Addresses.’ The focus was to bring attention to the many small and unique businesses that make Gettysburg Gettysburg.”
GettysGear developed into a commercial entity that carries a curated collection of high-quality products at reasonable prices, and offers exceptional customer service. “Our ultimate goal is to focus on unique, handcrafted, locally made, products. We’re in the high ninety-percentile of locally made American aspects,” said Gregory.
COVID-19 precautions are taken seriously at GettysGear. “We are a high touch environment because we want people to come in and touch our stuff. We added a hand sanitizing station. We have food samples in the store for snacks and treats, but now we have them individually bagged. Those are some things we’ll keep even after the pandemic because they are just good ideas. We use an aerosolized cleaner once a day or a few times a week depending on traffic. Our staff are all masked. We require our customers to be masked. We made a fun sign using our mascot to remind people.”
Gregory said he moved to Gettysburg with the retirement in mind. “I technically retired, but I learned after six months that I am not particularly good at that,” Gregory said. “I’ve always been a retailer; I’ve always been a merchant. I find it a creative outlet; it’s fun.”
Gregory runs the store with his wife and his daughter works at the store. “There’s a bit of a family angle as well that comes into play. There is a gratification in seeing your work appreciated by somebody.” Gregory said. “Our products are literally all over the world.”
Gregory said his father sacrificed a great deal to provide a better life for his family and he continues to view his father as his hero, even after his passing. “There is only one direction and that’s forward,” said Gregory. “It is never as good or as bad as you think it is. As people, we tend to be very linear at times. You need to be able to move forward and prepare for what’s coming next because this too shall pass.”
“You never know what the next day is going to bring. The best Plan A is a good Plan B. Get eighty percent right and then go. The minute you start, it is going to change on you anyway. Have the right people, and have the right skill sets. Then, you adjust on the fly,” said Gregory as he cautions other small business owners at this time.
“I’d like to see a continued growing business, respect and humility restored to the world, and for my children to thrive,” said Gregory as he looks to the future.
Gregory warns that small businesses need to focus on marketing. “We do a variety of different things [to promote the business]. We are always evaluating and testing. We do some traditional things. We have a social media presence. You have to be omni-directional. You can’t be singular in your advertising because that is not how data is consumed today. We like interacting with our customers and talking to them.”
Gregory finds a strong sense of pride when reflecting on GettysGear. “Yeah, I believe that that’s why you [start a small business]. There’s pride of ownership. When we do things, I know I’m my own biggest critic. I see things that others overlook.”
Gregory tries to live without any regrets; however, if he could go back to the beginning of GettysGear he wishes a few things might have occurred. “I should have taken some of my own advice. I needed more focus and needed to address issues aggressively, and more early on. I have multiple businesses; this business probably did not have as much focus as it should have. I treat this business as a client now. It gets a better amount of time. I enjoy it a lot more.”
Gregory encourages new business owners to “be passionate about what it is you want to do. Have a clear, concise plan of what you want to accomplish. Be well capitalized. Do not invest your retirement money. You have to be able to plan and pivot. Align with the right people.”
Ruffner is the Connection's Community Editor, reaching out to sponsors and subscribers across Adams County. She is a sophomore at Gettysburg College majoring in English and Japanese and hopes to study in Japan.
Ruffner has been on the college deans' list and is part of the Garthway Leadership Program at the College. She excels in leadership and interacting with the public.