Made to Order
Looking for a way to spice up your apparel sales and to offer something unique to your members and customers? Put your logo or facility name on your tenniswear. Many apparel manufacturers offer a “custom-embroidery” program, in which you can have your logo stitched onto apparel. Generally, there’s a minimum order of anywhere from 12 to 24 pieces, a small set-up fee (usually around $100) for the logo, and an extra charge of about $2.50 per garment. But, says Peter Antonacci of Sporting Look, “You can increase your bottom line by having items that your customers can’t buy in other shops.”
Antonacci says he’s noticed an increase in the custom-embroidery business over the last few years, and that’s what has prompted Sporting Look to redo its line to focus solely on custom-embroidered tennis apparel. “Where our business has really grown is in clubs and resorts that want the latest high-tech fabrics and the latest designs, and they want to put their logo on it,” he says.
“I think one reason why more shops are doing custom embroidery is that their customers will never see that garment in a discount store, which buys closeout lines from big manufacturers,” says Antonacci.
Custom-embroidered apparel is something that most people may associate with high-profile resorts. “If people are coming in to a resort from around the world, they want to take a logoed garment home with them,” says Bill Evans, vice president of sales and marketing for Tail. Evans says that while the majority of Tail’s custom-logoed merchandise is on the golf side, the company does tennis apparel, too, mostly for country clubs and club teams.
Katie Curry, vice president of marketing for The LBH Group, also finds that while the golf side has really taken the lead with custom embroidery, there are tennis accounts looking to logo their apparel, too. “When an account does request a custom logo, it’s usually either for a tennis shop at a resort or for a tennis team,” she says.
In fact, providing tenniswear with a custom look for teams has been big business for many apparel manufacturers. Patrice Brayer, the national sales manager for Marcia Apparel, says that her company recently completed an order for 240 custom-embroidered shirts for one facility. “It was a huge order, for team play,” she says. “Logoing and team orders are somewhat common. Sometimes, they even ask us to design the logo for them, if they don’t have a logo.”
“We do supply a lot of uniforms,” adds Diane Bladecki, marketing/promotions director for Kaelin. “I think where it’s mainly on the rise is on a polo type of shirt or a tank top for ladies. As a past retailer, what you’re looking for with those items are things with a very long margin.”
Trish Levin, vice president of merchandising for Lejay, says her company will do custom embroidery, but when it comes to customizing for teams or facilities, Lejay’s main focus has been on team colors. “A big part of our business is custom team apparel, where we offer up to 15 solid colors for the body style and those same colors for trim,” she says. “Then we let teams pick their own color combinations, and we turn it around in three or four weeks.”
If there are tournaments or other special events in your area, consider having custom-embroidered apparel available for sale, tailored, of course, to those events. Also, you may want to carry apparel that is custom-logoed with your community name or other local affiliation, which might prove profitable for some tennis shops that aren’t connected to a specific tennis facility.
Custom-embroidery can help your shop get noticed, and can provide a unique product for your customers.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.