5 ways to build a unique & successful golf shop

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Jack Dillon shares his suggestions to try once COVID-19 exits the everyday conversation

Bad news about national retailers has become a weekly headline. Many of the good and great retailers are packing in their tents, folding their nesting tables and calling it quits. Although COVID-19 has been a disaster for much of business, the brick and mortar retail headache has been painful for years, long before the virus hit our shores. Even though COVID-19 has been the deathblow for many retailers, strong competition from e-commerce and a lack of smart decisions were the initial enemies to so many of the stores we knew and loved for decades.

Now, as the golf industry is playing to a full house, you may be asking the question: “what do I do with my golf shop space once our new normal begins?” “Shall we go basic, with small, easy to sell items, or do we just get out and save the inventory dollars?” For most good to better golf properties I say neither. Once the world moves to a faster beat, I gently suggest you build a quality presentation for your members and guests. Build a strong golf shop, one that is built for and around your golfers….but with a twist. 

Yes, the world is changing as never before in our lifetime. At the same time, people love to acquire and own things. Golfers are no different. They love new golf “stuff” and they love being treated as a five-star customer. They want to be treated nicely, they want to see real merchandise, touch it, try it on, swing it and buy it. Because you are their “home of golf” I believe you can recreate a successful golf shop, no matter what is happening on Main Street or even Park Avenue. As a lifelong merchant I get the itch to write a post about merchandise and my favorite place: the golf shop, once or twice a year. I absolutely believe you can compete, you can make money, but there needs to be new decisions, different decisions, and some changes, in order to create a presentation golfers will enjoy, spend time around, and invest in. Here are my high fives for this week. Five thoughts to try, in order to build a unique, successful shop once COVID-19 exits the everyday conversation:

  1. Build a never out program for the key replenishment items: accessories, golf balls, gloves, headwear, sunscreen, socks, and other key items. Create confidence, make the sale every time
  2. Know that women want the latest and greatest in apparel, but they also want value too. For your first season back, offer a program to women where you present nice brands, nice product, at prices far too good to pass up. Win their business the easy way: dazzle them with product & price. Loyalty is key. Negotiate & work with smart brands here
  3. Men on the other hand do not really consider the age of a golf shirt or other apparel pieces. They want brands they recognize, good fit, and good prices. Display for value
  4. Change up your brand lineup. Far too many buyers buy from the same 4-5 brands every year. At the same time so does every other shop in town. Get the buyer to spend some money with several different brands (in addition to the basic winners), making sure they buy great colors, style, and quality
  5. Have a staff that is enthusiastic about merchandise, the plan, with a commitment to provide attentive service. Create continuous training, a bonus program, and recognition for staff. Once you get all of the constituents involved, the golf shop can thrive.

The golf shop is the hub, the communications center for the property. Only the 1st tee hears more chatter. The buyer and shop staff must create a story, an easy snapshot for the golfer to understand. Build that story around the community, school colors, family and/or the people who play your property. When the shop looks good, has good product with value, and a strong personal touch, it can help drive more golfers to buy, to stay around, eat, and become a loyalist for the entire property, not just the 18 holes outside. For the past 20 years I have stressed that golf shops can succeed.

Even today, I say the same thing. It will take a new vision, with a presentation that invites. There are hundreds of golf brands longing for your business. Get involved and look beyond the biggest names to include new names that look fresh and inviting. E-commerce can do many things, but it cannot do what your team and a nice physical presentation can do. I believe you can build an enticing, fun, profitable shop. It will you and your team to stretch your minds, while carrying fewer ideas forward. Our new normal is coming, how will you prepare your golfers and staff? A really good golf shop is possible! Thank you.


Jack Dillon writes the high fives series. Jack can help you with your shop, your buying, your team. Jack was a top buyer for 30 years. Call Jack at 407-973-6136. Dillonjack53@gmail.com. (my opinions only).

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