Jeff Gibson, the owner of the Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in Novi, looks up a battery for a customer Thursday, Nov. 11, at his shop in the West Oaks Shopping Center.

Jeff Gibson, the owner of the Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in Novi, looks up a battery for a customer Thursday, Nov. 11, at his shop in the West Oaks Shopping Center.

Photo by Brian Wells


Small Business Saturday: Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise owner offers more than batteries and bulbs

By: Brian Wells | Novi Note | Published November 22, 2021

 Jeff Gibson owns the Batteries Plus Bulbs store in the West Oaks Shopping Center in Novi.

Jeff Gibson owns the Batteries Plus Bulbs store in the West Oaks Shopping Center in Novi.

Photo by Brian Wells

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NOVI — When a customer with brain cancer asked Jeff Gibson, owner of a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in Novi, to repair an electric bike for his wife, Gibson jumped at the challenge.

The bicycle had been purchased at an auction. Its battery pack doesn’t work, and the charger is missing. So Gibson is putting his talents to work to make a new charger for the bike.

“One of the coolest things about this business, and this is the part I love, is the special repair type stuff,” Gibson said.

 

‘I fell into it’
After working in the cable industry for 32 years, Gibson needed an exit strategy. He knew he wanted to open a franchise that wouldn’t require him to be present all the time.

He looked at several different industries before he settled on one. Being technical by nature, he decided to open his own Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in Novi.

“I started looking into it and I actually worked in a couple of stores during vacation time just to see if I liked the franchise,” Gibson said. “And so I fell into it.”

Gibson decided to open his store in Novi, in the West Oaks Shopping Center, because he likes the people, he said.

“There are a lot of do-it-yourselfers,” Gibson said. “But a lot of people come here because they know they’re going to get the right product.

“I love the people that come in.”

During the store’s first year, sales were tracking upwards, Gibson said. The store’s second year started in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and “retail died,” he said. But this year, the store has been able to recover, which Gibson credits to the commercial side of the business.

This year, Gibson said, his store is the second-highest ranked commercial business store in its age group in the entire country.

 

Batteries, bulbs and more
Besides commercial sales, Gibson’s highest-volume sellers are watch batteries, he said.

But he also sells batteries for cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. He stocks batteries for cordless phones and cellphones, and has the tools to replace batteries inside modern cellphones.

There is also a rack dedicated to batteries for cordless drills. If a battery isn’t manufactured for a drill, he can repair the old battery pack.

“If you have a drill, your favorite drill, and it’s dead and you can’t get a battery pack made already, we actually will take the old one, pop it open and replace the cells,” Gibson said.

Across the store, the wall is lined with lightbulbs for a number of different applications, including fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. He’s also begun expanding into smart home solutions, such as security cameras, lighting systems and smart plugs.

Gibson can also cut and program car keys, generally at a price lower than the dealership, he said.

 

Challenges to a small business
While his prices are competitive, online shopping is a big challenge to his store, Gibson said.

“There’s just a lot of people who just want to order and have it show up at the door and then return it if they don’t like it,” Gibson said.

Like many other industries, Gibson also says his franchise is facing a hiring problem. He’s been placing ads for several months and has seen very few applicants.

“It’s a good job,” Gibson said. “You’re not flipping burgers. We do a lot of training and studying, like you can study about the technologies and stuff, and people appreciate that.”

Gibson is also facing challenges with shipping and rising costs of products.

But despite the challenges, Gibson feels small businesses are important in an area such as Novi. They put money back into the area by paying taxes, as well as hiring from the local area. In his franchise, he purchases a lot of products locally from other businesses.

This Saturday, Nov. 27, is known as Small Business Saturday. It was created to spotlight the impact that small businesses and their often local owners and staff have on communities. On Small Business Saturday, people are encouraged to “shop small” and patronize their local establishments.

“We bring in money from the local area, but we also put it back into the system,” Gibson said. “That’s what you can’t do online.”

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