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The Plug

Owners: Jason Lutz and Tyler Simmons
Location: Reading, PA
Business: The Plug Sneaker Shop
Purpose of Loan: Expansion, Inventory
Impact: Economic Security

Tyler Simmons had a dream of opening a sneaker store in his hometown of Reading, a dream he worked hard to make come true in 2015 when he opened The Plug. This buy-sell-trade sneaker mecca operated out of a 450 sq ft shop until 2021 when Mr. Simmons and his new business partner, Jason Lutz, decided it was time to expand into a larger store that would allow them space to provide their loyal customers with additional services, like a sneaker cleaning service and additional new and used inventory.

They had the opportunity to move into an 8,000 square feet retail space with heavy foot traffic and visibility and came to Community First Fund for a loan and business counseling resources.

Community First Fund created a customized financial solution for them by pairing our small business loan product with the FHLB Banking on Business (BoB) program. As members of the FHLB, Community First Fund has access to such key credit enhancements for loans that support job creation. In 2020, when retail was shut down, Community First Fund was then able to provide The Plug with two rounds of the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to help preserve those jobs.

With their upgraded space, the owners have launched several community-based initiatives, including basketball tournaments to raise money for youth programs, and a sneaker giveaway to kids who make honor roll at nearby schools. Mr. Simmons says he wants The Plug to be more than a shop, but a community hub. He hires and mentors’ youth to show them how to become entrepreneurs and build a life for themselves.