Having grown up and played tennis in the Pittsburg area, Kent Johnson was aware that there had never been much of a tennis retail presence. As a teaching pro, during lessons, people would ask him where there could buy tennis equipment locally. So Johnson decided to open Tennis Town, which occupies a 1,300-square-foot space in the Pittsburg suburbs.
Now, just three years later, Tennis Town boasts a huge wall of racquets and carries all the major brands of racquets, shoes and clothing. He has three staff members, who are also stringers (a requirement to work there), and two stringing machines, which see a steady flow of tennis, squash and racquetball racquets. Johnson says his staff knows tennis and his inventory thoroughly and can help customers navigate the barrage of brands and hype, which, he adds, is something that online retailers can’t do.
His prices are competitive with online vendors and he has an aggressive demo program where customers pay $20 a month and demo as many racquets as they like and at the end of the month, the $20 gets applied to the purchase of the racquet of their choice.
Johnson has noticed increased sales each year and can probably attribute some of that success to the fact that he’s been very involved in the tennis community, sponsoring and donating supplies to local tournaments, including several junior events throughout the year. That, coupled with excellent customer service, brand variety, maintaining current inventory that’s fresh and ever-changing and servicing team needs with uniform and equipment sales, has helped put Tennis Town at the top of the game, and made it RSI’s Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year. —Cynthia Sherman
Tips for Success
* Hire customer-service-oriented people who have a solid knowledge of the inventory and good communications skills.
* Continue to expand the brands and selection you carry to provide more options for consumers.
* Keep a fresh face. Routinely rearranging the store so displays look new and inviting for shoppers.