Brian Durheimer got to know some of the staff, athletes and committee members from the Olympic Training Center when his Inertia Coffee Co. had a drive-thru location on Union Boulevard not far from the OTC.
The business has moved to 406 S. Eighth St., a location with room for a café and the equipment for coffee roasting. Some of those customers have followed to the new store, especially since it offers a 12 percent discount for credentialed athletes and Olympic staff.
The store is one of about 30 restaurants, retail stores and attractions participating in a city-sponsored program launched last year called Athletes Welcome! that encourages local businesses and attractions to offer discounts and other perks to athletes in residence, those visiting for events and Olympic staff.
“We decided to do that because the OTC is such a huge part of Colorado Springs and makes it very special,” said Durheimer, co-owner and roaster at Inertia Coffee Co. “That is why we felt like we could include them in our array of discounts.”
Although the athlete discounts have had a small positive impact on business, Durheimer said, “what’s more important to us is that it’s a small way for us to say thank you to them.”
The discounts were a natural fit for Title Nine, a women’s athletic and outdoor apparel company located at 210 N. Tejon St.
“We wanted to support women athletes, and we work with them in the store on a pretty regular basis,” said Nicole Mantz, manager of the local Title Nine store.
The store offers credentialed athletes 9 percent off their purchases. “…It’s not necessarily a sales driver, but a benefit for us to be associated with athletes and to have the athletes know we’re here and able to help them with whatever they need.”
The program “was a no-brainer for us,” said Becki Schneider, office manager at Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group.
“Our corporate offices are right across from the city office building,” Schneider said. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the city.”
The company provides a 30 percent discount for credentialed athletes and coaches at its three Colorado Springs brands — Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill, Over Easy: A Daytime Eatery and Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill.
“I suspect it’s helping business to a certain extent, but the intention going in wasn’t boosting business,” Schneider said. “Our owner, Randy Price, has always been passionate about the community and building up the downtown area. He loves having all the Olympic stuff going on.”
The Athletes Welcome! program grew out of a brainstorming session between the Olympic City task force and the U.S. Olympic Committee to engage local businesses in the Olympic City USA branding effort.
“It came out of an appetite from local businesses to take part in the Olympic City initiative but to do so in a way that didn’t violate any intellectual property,” said Jamie Fabos, chief communications officer for the city of Colorado Springs. “The brand is closely guarded — we couldn’t grant the right to local businesses to use it. Athletes Welcome! was a way to engage local businesses without stepping on any sponsorship roles.”
The program has three primary goals:
1. To offer the best possible experience to athletes who visit the city, thereby turning them into worldwide ambassadors for the brand;
2. To give local businesses a way to engage in the Olympic City USA identity in a way that drives business and respects USOC rules; and
3. To reinforce to the local community the city’s commitment to welcoming athletes from around the world.
Each business decides what to offer. Offers include discounts at restaurants and retailers and free or discounted admission at area attractions.
Businesses that join the program receive decals that indicate they’re participating.
“By having Athletes Welcome! stickers, it sends a message to residents that we’re walking the walk and working hard to make athletes feel welcome,” Fabos said.
The discounts and offers are promoted to training athletes, coaches and resident Olympic alumni through the OTC’s Athlete Concierge Program. In addition, businesses get free marketing on the city’s website and in brochures given to athletes and their families.
“We do ask the athletes to take pictures with the owners of the businesses and post them on social media,” Fabos said. “Businesses benefit from that as well.”
The city hopes to double the number of participants in the Athletes Welcome! program by the end of this year and to expand outside the downtown area.
To learn more, visit coloradosprings.gov, or call 719-385-5255.