How Did a Small Business Score a Deal with the New York Yankees?

How Did a Small Business Score a Deal with the New York Yankees? Insights from a Big Promotional Partnership Example


If you’re a small business plugging away, landing a big promotional contract might seem like a long shot. However, that’s just what Retro Fitness did. The growing fitness franchise recently landed a multi-year partnership as the New York Yankees Official Fitness Center.

Insights from a Big Promotional Partnership Example

Small Business Trends spoke with Retro Fitness CEO Eric Casaburi about how the big deal happened and how small businesses can do the same.

Geographic Fit

“The partnership with the Yankees was kind of a natural fit for geography,” Casaburi said, adding his company enjoys success in the northeast. The deal offers game tickets and contests allowing his customers to win experiences at Yankee Stadium as just a few of the perks for membership.

“We’ve got a good tailwind behind us and our path going forward looks good. Making partnerships and relationships like this one are all steps along the mosaic,” Casaburi said.

Retro Fitness is currently developing more than 100 gyms with plans for another 250 in the next two years in places like Florida, California, New York and Washington, D.C.

Essential Ingredients

Casaburi founded the company in 2004 and highlights some essential ingredients for networking and partnership success. Relationships are one of the most important factors. Scott Breault, Chief Brand Officer of Retro Fitness, had a previous relationship with the New York Yankees helping to cement the current deal.

Small Business Deals

“I also think that whenever you’re making any kind of partnership deal, you’ve got to have good street credibility and what someone else would want in exchange ” Casaburi says.

Prospective Partner

He suggests a few steps before approaching a prospective partner including studying their business and even taking photos so you can add solid value to any pitch. He also says thinking outside of the financial box helps in the long run.

“Not all deals are just about money,” he says. “  Sometimes they’re about goodwill or mutual respect or even garnering benefits from each other’s consumers.”

He also says sometimes looking at how your brand relates to your business gives you a long-term view of where you should be heading and where to look for partnerships. For example, there’s an obvious symmetry between fitness centers and sports teams his company capitalized on.

Famous Logo

Through the new partnership, Retro Fitness will benefit from Yankee players appearing at their company events and from in-stadium signage. They can use the famous logo on their printed materials and that same logo online.

Beneficial Partnership

Of course a good beneficial partnership doesn’t always need to be with a big iconic brand like the New York Yankees. Casaburi has more advice for the small business looking to make even regional connections.

“I think the most important thing in any kind of relationship is to create and show value,” he says. “One of the critical steps is to give first and then ask to receive.”

He advises smaller enterprises to show what they can bring to a new partnership right away and not just focus on the benefits for their company. For example, it doesn’t need to be about money. You can also leverage your services as part of any new deal.

What You Can Offer

Casaburi explains“This can be the difference between night and day for your outcome. Telling the person across the table what you’re willing to do to have a business relationship opens doors to bigger conversations.”

He says answering the question what you can offer often acts like  a “Trojan Horse” to get you in. One path is to offer the services of your company to the employees of a potential partner. For example, a small bakery could offer a discounted lunch menu to the employees at a neighboring business to start a relationship.

“Most people don’t say no to something that’s free,” Casaburi said. “I’m not looking to take anything in that relationship at first. I’m looking to give.”

Photo via Shutterstock


Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

2 Reactions
  1. With plans for 250 gyms in the next 2 years and a partnership with the Yankees, this won’t be a small business for long. Congrats!

  2. It all boils down to the need. If there is a desperate need and you are able to fulfill it, then you will succeed.