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.