Jim Purviance eats up the chance to boost Janesville's West Side
Here is a hint: Purviance's car license plate is "Mr. DQ."
How many people in Janesville wouldn't want to know a guy who sells lip-smacking-good Dilly Bars, Blizzards and ice cream cakes. Those sweet treats are ready and waiting at Purviance's Dairy Queen, which he has owned for 28 years on Janesville's West Side.
Purviance, a former Janesville school teacher, is a community fixture who actively promotes west side businesses.
"You need to get to know the people," Purviance said.
Five years ago, Purviance paid a visit to Janesville Parker High School and proposed a halftime giveaway contest at girls and boys basketball games.
Purviance's contest gives a Dilly Bar for successful layup, a combo meal for a converted free throw and an ice cream cake for a successful three-point basket. Nobody goes away empty-handed. An unsuccessful contestant receives a small Blizzard for participating.
"You would be surprised at how good the people are at shooting the three-pointers," Purviance said. "My gosh, I've given away cakes."
One basketball is thrown into the student section and another into the adult section. The fans who catch the balls become the contestants. In the beginning, fans were reluctant.
"When I first started it, I would throw the balls up in the crowd, and nobody wanted the balls. It was like they were embarrassed," Purviance said. "They'd throw it around, and I'd have to go up in the crowd and ask, ‘Won't you be my shooter.' Now, they fight to get the ball."
The contest went so well that Purviance carried the promotion to halftime at Parker football games. Fans have to throw a football through the hoop from five and 10 yards and punt the ball through the goalpost uprights from 15 yards for an ice cream cake prize.
"It's just so much fun," Purviance said. "I think every time I go to a game, somebody will say, ‘Thank you for doing this. It's so much fun to watch."'
It took a fellow business owner to open Purviance's eyes to the importance of community involvement.
"He said, ‘You know Jim, you need to go out into the community and go to different functions and get to know people.' And I think it is important," said Purviance, who is involved in the Westgate Corridor, a business association.
Purviance and his son, James, and Kevin O'Leary were instrumental in starting the Westside Block Party two years ago at Bond Park on the Saturday before school begins in September.
"It's just a tremendous turnout," Purviance said.
O'Leary, who owns a dental practice on West Court Street, admires Purviance's style.
"Jim is very creative," said O'Leary, who has worked with Purviance on the Westgate Corridor for three years and has known him for 10 years. "Jim turned the block party into a block party. He has a talent for making things bigger and better."
O'Leary said Purviance strives for success.
"His halftime show (at Parker), even if a kid misses a free throw, he gives them another chance," O'Leary said. "He fosters success."
Purviance is an inspiration, O'Leary said.
"He has been a good mentor to me."