Becoming a Pokémon GO sponsored location boosts exposure to local community
Niantic gave 1,000 nominated businesses complimentary promotion in Pokémon GO for one year. Now, we are sharing their stories. This week, we are looking at how a family-owned car repair shop gives back to their community during hard times while enjoying playing Pokémon GO in their own sponsored Gym.
Richard and Linda Brauer, owners of 59 Auto Repair in Plainfield, IL, are living what many would consider the American dream. Built from the ground up, the auto repair shop is a cornerstone in the community where it has served Plainfield, Illinois and surrounding communities since 1999. More than three generations of families bring their cars and trucks to 59 Auto Repair for reliable automotive services performed by highly skilled and trusted employees. So, it's no surprise that the owners are deeply embedded in helping the community.
Small businesses are the building blocks of most communities, but when hard times hit, it’s businesses like 59 Auto Repair that make a difference. The auto repair shop partners with the Plainfield Rotary Club to help raise funds for over 50 local charities, including the local food bank and homeless shelters. They also partner with Cars of Hope, an organization that gives donated cars to economically vulnerable families in the area. The shop repairs donated cars that are rundown and gives them to Cars of Hope in good, running condition for free. They also partner with local churches for food drives and provide free services to members of the community who can’t afford car repairs.
Richard Brauer said, “When this pandemic hit, we knew we had to ‘get back to community’ and work from there. We do what we can to help people that really need it.”
But it hasn’t been easy for the auto repair shop. There has been a decline in business since the pandemic mainly because less people are driving their vehicles. Brauer explains that if 40% of the workforce is not on the road, that means 40% of those cars will not need as many auto repairs, and that slows down business.
Brauer forges ahead despite the obstacles and makes adjustments to ensure customers and employees are safe as it relates to his business. The customer-facing employees as well as the mechanics all wear masks. The vehicles serviced are extensively cleaned before given back to the customer. Brauer also added pick up and delivery services for easier convenience, especially to help seniors who don’t want to leave their homes during a pandemic.
Becoming a Niantic Sponsored Location
59 Auto Repair was selected for the Niantic Small Business Recovery Initiative, resulting in a Pokémon GO Gym representing the auto repair shop.
Brauer and his wife started playing Pokémon GO four years ago when their three children urged them to start playing. The family enjoys taking walks together around town to play the game. Brauer shared that the family is very competitive with one another in a fun way. Now that the children are older, the entire family works at 59 Auto Repair, so having a Gym on the premises has added new excitement for the family, employees, and customers.
Since having the Gym, the Brauer’s have noticed an uptick in the number of cars driving by and stopping at the shop. The mechanics, many have worked at the auto repair shop for decades, also noticed a big change in the number of cars parked outside. For customers who play Pokémon GO, it's a great way to pass the time while waiting for their car to be serviced.
“Having our own Gym is giving us more exposure to people in our community and we hope that helps drum up more business for us,” said Brauer. “We also enjoy having our own Gym so we can play as often as we like while at work.”