Radio Sews Up Success For This Mom & Pop Business


Penny Marble is a professional quilter with decades of experience. Her husband Charlie is one of the few certified Singer sewing machine service techs in New York State. Quilting and sewing is a perfect marriage for the business they own in the small Western New York community of Alden, just east of Buffalo. When it came time to tell people about The Stitchery they turned to the radio station they listen to out of Buffalo, WECK AM/FM.

Radio Ink: How did you get involved in advertising on the radio?
Penny Marble: We found WECK Radio; we listen to it all the time. We have it playing here at the shop. So we called and talked to Dick Bauerle, our sales rep, and the station owner Buddy Shula. We were honest with them and told them that we were a startup, and we didn’t have a lot of money in our advertising budget. We asked, what can you do for us?
Dick said we can put you on Saturdays and really flood it on Saturdays for awhile and see how that works. Honestly, we got immediate response from those ads! The week after they started playing we had people coming in saying they heard us on the radio. I emailed Dick and said, “OMG, people came in and said they heard us on the radio.”

He also had us on a program he hosts called Senior Matters. He interviewed us and talked with us. We got phone calls immediately after it aired. People would say they just heard us on Senior Matters — “Can you do this for me?” “What do you offer?” “Where are you located?”

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Radio Ink: How long have you been using radio?
Penny Marble: Probably about a year or so. We just started moving from weekends and are throwing a few of the ads into drive-time during the week. We are talking to them about increasing our budget a little more, now that we are established.
Charlie Marble: We have had a really big return. Our business has picked up. Our business has become steady since we started advertising on the radio. I’m not saying we have been flooded, but our business has been constant and steady. At this point, we are happy that we are steady.

Radio Ink: What type of spots do you run?
Penny Marble: We have Bobby O, one of the DJs, doing our spots. In our ads he’s known as The Sewing Guy. When we were first talking about the ads, Dick suggested maybe they should have one of the girls do the spots. I said no, because if you can get one of the guys to do the spots and always say something about quilting or sewing in the opening words, you are going to have quilters take notice and speak up.

When we were traveling and I was doing quilting shows, I had more quilters stop in my booth because my husband was sitting there. They would say, “Oh look, a man into quilting.” So when we were talking about the spots I said if you had a guy talk about quilting, ears are going to perk up because it’s a man talking about it.

Radio Ink: What makes radio great for your business?
Charlie Marble: It comes into your house, you relax listening to it. It comes into your car. The ads take on a life, instead of just having something put in front of you to read or watch.
Penny Marble: On TV, if a commercial comes on, you get up and do something else for a few minutes. Radio is also local, and knowing that people are listening to it and to our ads is great. WECK is a very popular station. When their popularity grows, so does our business. They get more listeners and we get more potential customers.

As a quilter, I know when I hear the word “quilt” or “sewing” I stop and listen. That’s what these listeners to WECK are going to do. They can listen to ads about other things, but when The Sewing Guy comes on and talks about quilting, people listen because it’s different. It’s going to pique their interest. I don’t think TV can do that.

Radio Ink: What advice do you have for someone considering radio advertising?
Charlie Marble: I’d tell ’em to go talk to somebody. Work with the sales rep and see what you can come up with. We do some advertising in our local pennysaver-type of publication. Some people say they saw our flier in the paper, but most say they heard about us on the radio.
Penny Marble: As far as customer reach, radio is going to give you the most bang for your buck. I mean you can advertise in a lot of places, but are people really going to read your ad in the paper? Are people going to really see you among all the other ads in the paper? On the radio, when your ad comes on, it’s only you. When people listen to that they are only hearing about you. They’re not being flooded with a million other ads at the same time.

We have gotten more response from our radio ads than we have gotten in any of our print advertising. The response that we get, and the care that we get from WECK and Dick and Buddy, making sure that what we’re doing is the right thing, it’s astonishing! They really take care of us.

You know, that’s the kind of relationship you want to have. When your funds are short, you have to spend them wisely. We have gotten a great return on what we have spent on radio advertising.

Editors Note: Shortly after our interview, we were saddened to learn that Charlie Marble had passed away. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Marble family.
Thanks to Penny and Charlie Marble, The Stitchery
Thanks to Buddy Shula and Dick Bauerle, WECK Radio

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