Summing It Up
• Call attention
to merchandise with eye-
displays, proper placement and promotions.
• Scatter popular sales items throughout the store.
• Develop a
buying strategy that staggers deliveries throughout
When fancier shirts elbowed their way into golf apparel, the Promontory Golf Club in Park City, Utah, faced the challenge of keeping sales propped up for the more standard logoed shirts in its pro shop.
The logoed shirts had a higher mark-up, so it was critical to maintain their sales, says Steve Hupe, Promontory’s Director of Golf. The answer came through “creating a colorful, monthly advertising poster campaign, centered around the holidays, that succeeded in not only attracting the eye and interest of our clientele, but provided a true value through multiple purchases.”
Performance wear was another segment in Promontory’s shop where a prominent display wasn’t enough to get the garments moving. But framing literature about the benefits of these items, and making sure the hang tags with their technical information were visible, attracted more customers to the display, and encouraged more questions that led to more sales.
“Additionally,” says Hupe, “we added an old-fashioned desk fan and a couple of hand fans to the display, to convey a sense of ‘coolness.’ ”
As these examples show, more club and resort shops that don’t have the room to “stack it high and sell it cheap,” like their big-box competitors, are finding that ingenuity and creativity can still make the difference. “Unlike a public retail store, where you are likely to see clothing stacked in piles, members expect to see merchandise that is perhaps more creatively placed and displayed in the pro shop of a private club,” notes Sarah Silver, Merchandising Manager at Desert
Highlands in North Scottsdale, Ariz.
Recently, Silver and Doug Wescott, Director of Golf, draped every color of a particular shirt on one mannequin, rolling up the sleeves and “popping” up the collars. The members enjoyed it so much, they requested that the display be kept in the store. The staff also uses platforms and props such as books, trunks, antiques and artifacts to complement its merchandise.
Promontory GC’s pro shop put its performance wear on display, the staff
framed the product’s benefits, and added fans “to convey a sense of
‘coolness,’” says Director of Golf Steve Hupe.
“Wishpets” and Candles
At the Bald Head Island (N.C.) Club, the philosophy of Ron Thomason, Director of Golf, is to “Keep it fresh and keep members informed.”
“We try to change our displays weekly,” Thomason says. “We started putting something in our newsletter to members called ‘The Hot List.’ That has helped.”
Because Thomason feels it’s important to give equal time to merchandise in the “focal point,” the displays at the entrance of Bald Head Island’s 1,800-sq.-ft. store consistently change. He also peppers popular sales items like “Wishpets”—little stuffed animals representing the island’s wildlife—throughout the available retail space.
“It sparks sales,” says Thomason. “We also carry candles with our logo on the outside; we’ve been fortunate to sell those and spread them throughout the store, too.”
Even a seemingly insignificant move can make remarkable improvements, Thomason has found. “We sell pictures of our golf holes,” he says. “We had some prints in here, and once we stuck them on an easel, we sold more.”
To say that pro shop space isn’t plentiful for Rob McDannold, Head Golf Professional at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ancaster, Ont., Canada, is actually an understatement. So McDannold has learned to use every nook of the 600-sq.-ft. pro shop.
Using nesting tables, mannequins and crested hangers, he is still able to create a sense of excitement. “We hosted a Hawaiian event,” he reports, “and decided to promote our Maui Jim sunglasses. We took sand from the bunkers and made a ‘beach’ on one of our feature tables. We accessorized the display with palm trees and leis, and put all the sunglasses on the sand.” The result: More than 15 pairs of the glasses were sold in one day.
McDannold insists that store size should not be allowed to inhibit displays. While he recognizes that bulky items, such as men’s bottoms and sweaters, can be difficult to incorporate into eye-catching displays, he’s still found that putting these items on the feature table. especially when they’re paired with some promotional pricing or gift, can make all the difference. “People do not realize how much potential they have in their retail space,” he believes.
Routes to the Register
“Displays must grab you,” says Joseph K. Gaffney, Director of Golf Operations at the Legacy Golf Resort in Phoenix. “The main display in the front of the shop must be eye-appealing and full of color, so it looks alive.”
To Gaffney, it’s also important that a shop’s layout create paths that snake past the upscale merchandise.
“It’s important that the front of the store has low displays, and builds in height to the back,” he adds. “Since this is a resort, there is also other merchandise not normally found in a pro shop. This actually helps to bring in additional patrons. Finally, the shop is designed so the golfer must walk through to the check-in desk and out again—making two passes by the merchandise.”
|With only 600 feet of retail space, Hamilton G&CC uses every available space to highlight merchandise.|
Where and how merchandise is located is critical, Silver agrees. Recently, the Desert Highlands staff moved the golf bags and clubs away from the wall to the center of the shop, to give members better access. But bags are also displayed around the perimeter, to showcase individual lines.
Points of Purchase
Keeping close contact with suppliers and creating volume through strategic alliances that can lower costs are among some of Gaffney’s other key strategies at the Legacy Golf Resort. And, because his location sees a fluctuation in population from season to season, he changes the type and lines of merchandise to complement the particular time of year.
At the Bald Head Island Club, Thomason’s approach to purchasing for a golf resort store is to buy deep and buy well. Instead of ordering a huge variety of shirts with only a few sizes in each style, he’s been more successful picking out a smaller selection of quality shirts, but in a surplus of sizes.
“We’ve got plenty of vendors,” he says, “but we try to bring in, say, larger quantities of seven or eight shirts, instead of four each of 10 or 12 shirts. That has really worked because we’ll normally have everything in stock.”
Since McDannold wrestles with limited space, he plans a buying strategy that staggers deliveries throughout the season, to keep the sales floor fresh. “This is not only a method that maximizes our profit,” he says, “but it’s also a great way to manage our payables. Just-in-time inventory is key—for equipment as well as apparel. The cycle of equipment and the pace of change in its technology is beginning to be a little like fashion, so not having a huge inventory of clubs is vital.”
Pro shop merchandisers have always found the women’s, seniors’ and junior beginners’ categories to be traditionally tough spots. “The ladies market has always been a challenge,” notes Hupe. “It’s important to first ascertain your female market, and, if you’re in a private club, poll [women] to find consistent size runs and if there’s a consensus on a handful of favorite merchandisers.”
Guests who do not play golf are also an important potential segment for apparel sales, Silver believes, especially for logoed-item sales that can provide a permanent connection with the property.
placement makes the typical more tempting. “Displays must grab you,”
says Joseph K. Gaffney, Director of Golf Operations at Legacy Golf
Knowledge With a Smile
Pro shop managers agree: The more all sales associates know about the merchandise sold in a shop, the better edge they’ll have in selling it.
“Associate knowledge is critical,” Gaffney stresses. “You want your staff to not only be familiar with the lines and types of merchandise, but also the sizes that are available, so they can continually interact with the buyer. The goals for the shop must be understood and embraced by all associates. The more informed the associates become, the deeper the commitment, and finally ownership takes place by all involved.”
Beyond knowing the products, associates also need to have an engaging demeanor. “They should say hello to the customer and introduce themselves,” says Thomason, “before getting into what they are looking for. While it’s important for the staff to know the difference between cotton and micro fiber and the other new climate-control products that are out there, the biggest thing is to be personable and helpful.”
Inside Still Wins Out
It has become easier to sell online with the advent of Internet services such as eBay, but pro shop managers admit it is still difficult to turn an electronic profit; only a select few seem to be taking advantage of Web site sales.
“Most high-end clubs have an online store component through their Web sites,” says Hupe. “Highly recognized clubs do well because of their exclusivity, easily identifiable and coveted logo, or a wide member base. But a majority of the clubs struggle [with online sales].”
So the heart of the pro shop remains on-site. And even for the most space-challenged, with out-of-the-box thinking, it’s still possible to churn out surprising sales. “You must know what you are, and deliver it,” says McDannold.forum