Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year: NYC Racquet Sports
A few years ago, just before the economy went belly up, Woody Schneider decided to open up a fourth tennis retail location in New York City. Everything was in place to sign the papers, then the economy crashed. But Woody decided, rather than let people go and pull back from the deal, to “give it a go.”
The 2,000-square-foot space, NYC Racquet Sports on 35th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, is now the “flagship” store for Schneider and his partner, Joan Dziena. About 18 years ago, Schneider started Grand Central Racquet as a small kiosk in a corridor of New York’s Grand Central Terminal. Then he expanded to a second store in Midtown Manhattan. Six years ago he added the pro shop at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.
“Growth in the tennis retail market is tough by anyone’s definition,” says Greg Mason, Head/Penn’s vice president of sales and marketing. “But Woody has been growing his business and expanding, and competing successfully.” So successfully, in fact, that NYC Racquet Sports — along with the three other locations — are RSI’s 2010 Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year.
“I still think of myself as that 80-square-foot guy,” says Schneider, who credits Dziena and her retail and marketing talents with making expansion possible. The four stores currently have about 10 employees. “The employee part of my business is my favorite thing. I still get calls from people who worked for me 18 years ago.”
“It really was a building-block process,” adds Dziena. “We took some risks and had many challenges, and learned from making mistakes. Now, every month has been better than the last.”
Tips for success
- “I try to be myself,” says Schneider. “If something doesn’t seem fair to me, I voice my opinion. I think the reps respect me for that.”
- Maintain good relationships with companies and sales reps. “I definitely feel we’re in this together,” says Schneider.
- Learn from your mistakes. “It’s how businesses grow,” says Dziena.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.