February 23, 2010 // Franchising.com // LOS ANGELES - A large shipment of NBA swingman jerseys just arrived, and Eddie Rivas excitedly tears open the box to find a fresh stock of 48 No.24 Kobe Bryant jerseys.
"These will be gone in two weeks," says Rivas as he dials the phone to place another order.
Such is life for one of the most successful Pro Image owners in the country.The Lakers are in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row, and customers at Rivas's seven Pro Image locations in the L.A.area can't get enough of their home town team's product.These are busy, exciting times for Rivas.But that's no different than the last 13 years of his life as an owner operator of Pro Image.
To Rivas, 1996 seems like yesterday.He remembers fondly how hard he and wife Daisy worked to put themselves in a position to buy their first franchise.Born in Equador, and raised in Queens, NY, Rivas is living the American dream.He worked his tail off for 22 years and was a pharmaceutical sales manager at the time he was interested in looking to start his own business.
Work had moved Daisy and he to Los Angeles, where Eddie began attending franchising expos in search of something that piqued his interest.His search eventually led him to finding Pro Image, the nation's largest sports fan gift shop.
"It was all about sports for me.I was always into sports," said Rivas."I thought it was exciting, and the product was unique, but I didn't have any retail experience at all."
That's where the Pro Image Corporate team came in.Eddie developed a strong working relationship with his service representative, and proved a quick learner.His first store opened at Santa Anita Fashion Park in Arcadia, CA in 1996.That year he came just short of his initial projections, but he learned what it took to be successful and made the necessary changes the following year.
Business picked up and Rivas opened a second location in Montclair Plaza in 1998.His stores quickly shot to the top of the store sales rankings nationwide, and he continued to work with Pro Image Corporate on his growth plan.
Pro Image's leasing representatives were able to continue to solidify outstanding lease packages for Eddie to review, and growth steadily continued at the turn of the century.
"I'm not surprised how things have turned out," said Rivas."The numbers were just too good not to open (additional stores)."
Rivas opened five more stores by 2006: Lakewood 2001; Stonewood 2002; Glendale Galleria 2003; Del Amo Fashion Center 2005; and Ontario Mills 2006 with hopes of having a total of 10 stores someday soon.
"This is a fun business.I still get excited about the product."
Rivas then went back to work hanging his new Kobe jerseys on the wall.They'll be gone in two weeks.