Friday, October 28, 2011

Craig's Crossing - Week 3

This Saturday is “Ladies’ Day” on Craig’s Crossing. Obviously this is a controversial topic in many circles within the industry and I am not trying with this entry to jump in on either side of what is for most clubs a tough category to plan and maximize.

I learned a great deal about the sale of ladies’ golf apparel running the merchandise tent at the LPGA the five years it was played at Bulle Rock. We devoted approximately 50% of the space (4000 sq. ft. tent) and open to buy dollars every year to ladies’ apparel. We had selection, depth and quality sales help and quickly developed a following. I had customers approach me and tell me that they saved their golf apparel budget for the tent because the club where they were a member never had any assortment of goods. At that point in time, I was consulting with a number of clubs where I was suggesting a cutback on ladies’ inventory so I could relate immediately and more passionately than she could have realized.

All retail is a numbers game and the first and most important number is the number of customers. The LPGA tent had an attendance of 20,000/day, at least half of which were female. One of the clubs I was buying for during that same period of time did 20,000 rounds a year and had eight active female members. It’s easy to have a good week with the tournament traffic; the tent was well located and beautifully merchandised but almost impossible to retail to eight women.

To quote some of the fashion gurus in the Ladie's arena:

Billy Draddy head of design for Summit Brands sent the attached picture of ZR’s “transparent” waterproof women’s jacket and added that “this is what women’s outerwear should look like for golf. Photographed is the assistant at Winged Foot, Kaitlyn Edwards. Makes a difference having a pro in the shot, even the way she holds the club and wear’s her hat, screams she looks great in the clothes!”

Valerie Merrill, veteran mid-Atlantic rep for EP Pro and one of the quality sales team that helped with the LPGA tent says that “EP continues to be the # 1 ladies golf line because of style and their many different fabrics and fit. The spring 2012 line consists of 4 groups and key items. Animal Instants is a black and white group and is followed by the Monarchy collection which is also a black and white group with fuchsia. This means that following an Animal Instants delivery with Monarchy gives you a much longer sell through before putting anything on sale.”

Linda Hipp the founder of LIJA says that she and her team “believe that we're changing the way that women wear golf apparel. We do this through LIJA's fusion of sport & fashion, and our unique execution of color, fabrication, details and extraordinary design.”

“Our perspective for spring 2012 is about nature, fashion, ease and beauty. The line is designed for the woman customer who wants to feel feminine and confident always,” says Sharon Sunoo, the co-founder of Birdy & Grace. One of the season’s highlights is our Miracle knit Olivia Short, which is a cross between the classic woven Bermuda and your favorite yoga pant. “Our customers have been asking for alternatives to the standard fare—something forgiving yet still suited to an active lifestyle. There’s a reason why we’re calling it the Miracle Knit and the response has been outstanding.”

Liz Knapp says “4all by JoFit is the answer to the lack of functionality and fashion in women's golf apparel. Founded by a female athlete, 4all is made by women for women in order to fit and perform properly on or off the green. The line features styles that are flattering for all sizes and tastes with basics as well as fashion pieces for women from all walks of life.”

Karen Cantrell owner of Lady Golf makes the point that “accessories make the Woman! Many of my clients ask me about different ways to accessorize their looks so they can feel completely in Vogue and also to add to the practical side of dressing.

Coco Chanel said it best, " Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. Here are some manufacturers that I adore for golf accessories:

Eric Javits- hats, visors, and hand bags- High end and very tasteful! Sophisticated!

High Spirts - Crystal Visors - quality at a great price

Evertan gloves - tan thru gloves in numerous cutting edge patterns

Master's Golf fashion belts- TO DIE FOR ! The best leather combined with shimmering accent jewels

Pixma ball markers - Swarovski cystals in a pleathora of designs from the Presidential Seal of the USA to brightly colored dragon flies!

Baubles by Barb - Stroke Counters -You create your own designs and she handcrafts them! From Breast Cancer Awareness logos to crystal figured cats wearing tiny necklaces.

Everyday is a Fashion Show! Keep it Classy even in the rough!”

Another point of interest – this from Chris Heyn at Summit Golf Brands:

Dear Summit Golf Brand associates,

I am happy to announce the appointment of Brad Faxon as Director of Players and Partnerships for Summit Golf Brands. In this new role, Brad will work closely with Summit’s Corporate and Wholesale divisions in creating new programs that will add value to our company’s partners while also managing our player and PGA professional partnerships. Brad will also interface with Summit’s Product Development teams to further improve each products “Course Tested” and “Course Approved” programs for both Fairway & Greene and Zero Restriction.

Brad is respected in the golf industry as both a player and as a person who continues to give to the game. It is this spirit that also represents who we are as a company, making him an obvious choice to represent our brand in the field. We are fortunate to have Brad on our team; his insight and passion for the game of golf and his instinct with product are unparalleled.

While the LPGA tent and the shop at the predominantly men’s golf club cited above represent the extremes, most clubs fall somewhere in the middle in terms of the number of female customers/members they are attempting to accommodate. Even at shops that have large and active ladies’ groups and players, there is almost always a nucleus of meaningful patrons who dictate decisions such as brands carried and sizing concentration.

My suggestion for next season is to attempt to maximize these relationships. First identify the most patronizing customers and invite them to lunch to discuss the nature of the shop business, the importance of their support and ask their advice and ideas on what will work best for them, emphasizing that it is difficult to invest heavily in inventory for so small a group.

Listen carefully to their ideas but have a few of your own. There will be lines mentioned that aren’t now carried but that they would be interested in seeing. Suggest that you can invite the company rep for that particular line where the whole line could be presented to the group, the entire membership, their friends, family and organizations; as large an audience as can be assembled. At that point your most valuable patrons and their guests at this shopping experience will get to know the rep making the presentation, ask questions about the product, obviously see the entire collection for the season and most importantly know you care.The important message here is that you will do whatever they feel would most interest them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Craig's Crossing - Week Two

To begin week two of Craig's Crossing I would like to genuinely thank everyone who contacted me this week with feedback about the concept. The effort has already generated traction with both vendors and shop managers who discovered one another at this intersection.

Although some weeks will include an eclectic mix of interesting products/services, this week Craig's Crossing is dedicated almost exclusively to men's knit shirts. This category typically accounts for the largest volume and margin in most shops and there are some new products as well as relatively new products that have exciting stories and are doing well.

"The Bobby Jones Liquid Cotton knit shirt is being asked for my name", said Jared Henzlik, National Sales and Operations Manager. "It has the most incredible hand and gets softer with each washing." An interview with Jared about the brand's come back was featured at the Upscale Golf Shop on PGA

"Business for Donald Ross Sportswear continues to grow rapidly, fueled by excellent sell through at retail and strong consumer demand" say Rob Stein and Paul Wold, founders of the brand. DJR was the Successful Pro Shop MVP for 2009.

Martin Golf Apparel, whose slogan is "Timeless as the Game" will be sold by an ultra-high account base, ideally the nation's top private golf clubs, and won't do any department store business. The company will take a very understated approach, as the garments are a lifetime quest for perfection from Martin. "This is not about branding," says Martin. "It is about a beautiful garment that men will want to wear." The world's finest Pima cotton will be the main ingredient in the company's lines, starting with the Spring 2012 collections. The finest collars in golf feature special, collar-specific yarns. Each garment will feature excellent high-end sourcing and special high-end finishing.

Bob Haley has developed a line of shirts combining Pima cotton and Cocona technology that are attractively priced and maintain their appearance through multiple launderings. Bob has chosen the name Cabo Shirt Company after his favorite golf destination.

Aquascutum stresses that it draws on its heritage combining quality and fine craftsmanship with innovation and exquisite design to create its own quintessentially British style that offers luxury, attention to detail and authenticity. Adam Scott is the exclusive brand ambassador for the collection.

ZR Tech Wear professes to improve your golf life as well as your appearance, introducing ZR-ion balancing technology to the golf shirt. The technology that has improved the flexibility, balance and endurance of professional golfers and other professional athletes alike has been embedded into the fiber of the ZR tech wear polos.

The Littlest Golfer makes resort-quality golf apparel, accessories, toys, books and equipment for infants and children - the fastest growing segment in golf. The company's golfing turtle mascots, Putter and Sandy, invite young children to explore the world. The Littlest Golfer's educational books are designed to give children the tools they need to succeed in golf and life. This is incredible product and the holidays are around the corner.

The best performing price-point shirt this season both at retail and for dressing golf staff was easily Play Dry Micro Pique from Greg Norman's Pro-Series.

Men's knit shirts are the most important source of revenue in most Golf Pro Shops and one can make a case for every season showing the customer something new. As always, share any experience you may have had with these products or any others performing particularly well in your shop.

Next week I will spotlight ladies' golf apparel and in the near future we will have a Saturday entry focusing on the holiday season.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Craig's Crossing - Week One

Starting with this entry, every Saturday I will post news, interesting products from the leaders of the industry and things that I have seen and liked. Since a crossing is a place where people meet and viewpoints can be shared and exchanged, Craig's Crossing will be all the more meaningfully informative with participation from you. Don't hesitate to email me anything news-worthy that you would like to share and I will acknowledge the source.

Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottles keep cold liquids cold for 24 hours and hot liquids hot for 12 hours. Hydro Flask water bottles are perfect for golf, gold retail and add-on tournament favors. The Hydro Flask is available in 12-24 ox. bottles and easily customized.

The high twist cotton towel in a box from Golf by James Warren is perfect for a tournament favor, merchandises well in the shop and is a great alternative to the typical towel selection in most shops.

At FootJoy, their new van fleet, commitment to a new apparel line and the Contour Casual at a suggested retail of $115.00 are definitely the buzz.

Design-a-Hat parties by Pukka give your staff a chance to design your hat inventory, have fun learning a lot about the category and taking ownership of the product's success in the shop - for merchandizing purposes - name the hats after the staff member who designed it.

New eye wear by Greg Norman is great looking, the latest technology and mid-priced.

At Full Turn Partners (previously Pima Direct) a high-end natural performance shirt is making its mark. The M15 fabrics have specially selected superfine fibers that feel luxuriously soft next to the skin, while also having the ability to detect and respond to changes in temperature. M15 speeds the transfer of moisture from the body to evaporation, naturally cooling the wearer. In cool conditions, the thermal properties of M15 shield the body providing warmth and comfort. This dual action encourages a consistent body temperature which makes the shirt perfect for any occasion.

The Linksoul collection by John Ashworth, next season's new buzz, is targeted to the golf lifestyle enthusiast who is style conscious and looking for an alternative to the polyester performance or mercerized golf shirt. These garments enable the wearer to look just as good off the course as on and their easy care nature further enhances their value.

Jimmy Glass returned to Marbas to help relaunch the brand in the U.S.A. "I am very excited to be back with Marbas and working with the highest quality shirt manufacturer in the world. The Italians have a saying, 'Quality is always in style' and it is a real joy to sell the best. Our spring pre-books are ahead 50%. What is driving this is our patent pending knitting process called AirKot, a new knitting process that creates 100% cotton fabric with no chemicals. It wicks faster and dries as fast as petroleum based polyester. We have a cotton performance shirt with synthetic attributes and our accounts are booking it strong for 2012."

In an effort to improve the content offering, please comment on the concept of Craig's Crossing and certainly an experience you may have had with the above listed products and ideas.

There will be a monthly winner for best news-worthy item or comment !