2006 Chain retailer/mass merchant of the year: PGA Tour Superstores
By James Martin
When the first PGA Tour Superstore opened, in Roswell, Ga., just outside of Atlanta in March 2005, CFO Jorge Cora was disappointed. Never mind that the place offered a huge selection of tennis gear — racquets, shoes, and accessories numbering in the thousands — to satisfy even the most hard-core player. It just didn’t quite cut it.
“We wanted to include a full-size tennis court in the store,” Cora says. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough room.”
That “problem” was addressed with the next two stores, which have opened in the last year in Duluth and Kennesaw, both suburbs of Atlanta. Each one features a full-sized tennis court so customers can demo racquets and participate in clinics and lessons. “We wanted to give players the ultimate shopping experience,” Cora says.
And that’s exactly what the burgeoning chain does. Currently, three of its six stores (two in Myrtle Beach and four in the Atlanta area) have full-size courts. But it’s not just this unique feature that makes the PGA Tour Superstores RSI’s choice for 2006 Chain Retailer/Mass Merchant of the Year. It’s also everything else they do for customers — all in a big way.
In each store, you’ll find more than 2,000 pairs of shoes and 1,100 racquets (performance and prestrung). Bags, balls, and strings? Check, check, and check. There’s a special section for juniors and a racquet diagnostic center.
Unlike most large sports chains, where the sales staff is about as helpful on questions about tennis gear as John McEnroe is on questions about tennis etiquette, a PGA Tour Superstore employs three certified teaching pros. “The experience is just … to some people it’s close to overwhelming,” says Cora.
And if you like to golf, too, there are putting greens, dozens of simulators to practice your chips and drives, sand traps to hone your bunker skills, and, of course, a large assortment of products. “Combining golf and tennis makes sense,” says Cora, whose background includes a stint at mega-store Home Depot. “Many people play both sports, or have one person in their family who hits the links and the other the court.”
“They offer a whole new superstore concept to tennis, which has never been done before,” says Kai Nitsche of HEAD Penn, citing the stores’ wide selection of products and knowledgeable staff both on the court and on the sales floor, along with the expert stringing services available.
The PGA Tour Superstores are the largest golf and tennis specialty shops in the country. Those in Kennesaw and Duluth are 65,000 and 76,000 square feet and occupy two-thirds of what were once Wal-Mart stores.
Cora also plans on expanding well beyond the Atlanta area. In the spring, two stores will open in the Dallas area, and Cora is talking about entering markets in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Houston, and Florida.
“Our tennis business has been increasing since day one,” Cora says, though he won’t discuss sales numbers. “We’re happy with the results.”
PGA Tour Superstores’ tips for success
- Cora says customers enjoy the “interactive experience.”
- Use store personnel who are experts in their fields to provide products and services to customers.
- At PGA Tour Superstores, “You’re immersing yourself in an obsession,” says Cora. “We sell the entire lifestyle.”
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