A Hit Out of the Park

Everybody Hits isn’t just the only indoor batting cage in Philadelphia— it’s proof that a good idea can become a good investment with the right support. For owner David Gavigan, that support came from the Temple Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Gavigan was a political science major during his undergrad at Penn State, but not even Nittany Lion pride stopped him from declaring that every student should know about the SBDC. Everybody Hits, located at 529 West Girard Ave, is his success story.

Soon after his settling in Fishtown, Gavigan joined recreational baseball teams to satiate his need for America’s favorite pastime. One team includes Temple journalism professor George Miller, a personal friend of Gavigan.

It was the desire of a number of Gavigan’s friends and teammates to have a nearby batting cage that sparked his interest in opening a venue for such activity.

“It’s good practice, it’s a stress reliever and it’s fun,” Gavigan said. “When I moved here in 2009, I wanted to go to the batting cage just for stress relief and just hit a ball really hard without worrying about hurting anyone.”

Since the closest batting cage was in West Conshohocken, finding the opportunity to practice hitting was minimal at best. After deliberating for about a year, Gavigan was struck by his idea to name a batting cage ‘Everybody Hits’. It was then, he said, that he knew he had to make his dream a reality.

Owner David Gavigan stands outside the decorated doors of Everybody Hits.
Owner David Gavigan stands outside the decorated doors of Everybody Hits.

Gavigan had all of the pieces he needed. What had originated with a catchy name became much more when he took the time to build his own pitching machine, secured vintage pinball machines and planned an array of personal touches for the batting cage. Not to mention, Gavigan can describe baseball’s history in the area down to the tee.

“I wanted to incorporate this aspect of history into the batting cage,” Gavigan said. “A.J. Reach Company, the official manufacturers of major league baseballs for 30 years, [manufactured] all of them in Fishtown. They had three factories, [and] one of them is still standing on Frankford Ave just below Girard.  There’s a lot of history in this neighborhood, especially Philadelphia, just of the development of baseball.”

No small detail was overlooked, but  the creative must merge with the managerial for the survival of a small business.

Everybody Hits draws neighborhood residents, not just baseball teams.
Everybody Hits draws neighborhood residents, not just baseball teams.

With no business experience, Gavigan started from a natural beginner’s stance—Googling ‘how to write a business plan’.

“[It started with] me writing a beta business plan,” Gavigan said. “Without any financials and mainly coming from my background as a liberal arts major, it was like a research paper.”

That’s when Gavigan went to the SBDC at the recommendation of his business consulting neighbors.

“They assigned me a consultant,” Gavigan said. “For no price [and] no fees. [He] gave me a ton of advice.”

SBDC’s marketing strategies include social media, their own website, fliers and word of mouth. The program that SBDC provides dates back to 1983 serving Philadelphia and the surrounding communities.

SBDC runs all year round and includes one-day seminars as well as two significant programs called the Entrepreneurial Workshop Series and the Construction Management Certificate Series. The former is a class that focuses mainly on writing business plans.

“The SBDC is perfect for any entrepreneurs or existing business owner of a small company who needs the extra push to get their business to where they want it to be,” SBDC Training Coordinator Cecil Varghese said. “With our free consulting and classes, [our] services are affordable for everyone.”

The overall mission of Temple’s Small Business Development Center is to help small businesses to grow and succeed, Varghese explained.

With the help of SBDC, Gavigan can now worry about running a solo business that keeps him busy every day of the week. Some of his current projects include papering walls with baseball cards, both of professionals and local members of children’s teams, and hosting First Friday events where visitors can hit free rounds.

“This is the city life,” Gavigan said. “That’s my favorite part about this whole place—the interaction with the customers. I put a lot of work into this place, and it’s really rewarding to see people use it.”

Gavigan said the success of his business was dependent on the support of the SBDC.

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