It’s not often my thirteen year old son gets excited about a retail establishment. He doesn’t particularly like shopping (although his Mom and Dad do) and he can’t wait for it to be over most of the time. However, when it has to do with sporting goods or athletic shoes, he is interested. What I didn’t count on was the incredibly positive reaction to one particular store we walked into in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I was on a bit of a mission since I always enjoy going into golf stores to see what the latest equipment looks like and maybe I can pick up a putter that will finally allow me to reach my true potential ;). So, off we went to visit a few golf stores. We walked into Golfsmith, a 40 year old retailer from Austin, Texas which has a rich history and genuine heritage in club making. It is a nice store, about 15,000 square feet and it carried a more than adequate assortment. They had a couple of hitting stations at the back and a club making area where you can oversee the making of your very own set of clubs.

We looked at a few things, obviously didn’t feel very inspired to buy, but we also knew we wanted to check out different stores. Back in the car we went and drove not 5 blocks to something called PGA Superstore. When we walked in, I think my teenager’s eyes almost fell out of his head. The place was enormous at about 100,000 square feet. It was a golfer’s Disneyland. There was so much activity and buzz inside that store, you were swept right into the heart of the store. You didn’t know where to look first.

On the right hand side were at least a dozen hitting stations with real live lessons being conducted by teaching professionals. There was a full aisle for each hard goods manufacturer to show off their latest merchandise and more than enough room to show last year’s as well at very attractive prices. Everything was “Supersized” in this store. More bags, more club covers, more umbrellas than I had every seen anywhere.

On the left hand side was all apparel. Aisle after aisle of every make and label you can name. From high end down to basic utilitarian corporate golf apparel. The prices seemed to be holding although there seemed to be rotating promotions based on each label or manufacturer.

At the back, they had the largest indoor putting green we had ever tried and we spent a good 30 minutes on that green. All the while, the Golf Channel is blasting across the airwaves with dozens of high definition televisions scattered around the store so no matter where you are, you have a great view of the action. They had concierge services for booking tee times and golfing vacations and the staff and the vast number of customers all seemed immersed in the golf experience. This is what experiential retail is certainly all about.

You felt like you transcended to a different place when you walked into and around the store. It felt like you were being inspired to try new things and explore different avenues in and around the game of golf. It had everything you could ask for, for any golfer. It might also inspire some non-golfers to take up the game based on just one visit.

For my son and I, it was refreshing and motivating. He now is prouder to be taking up the game and has taken his interest level one step higher because of that one visit. As for me, well, I have always loved the game but I have now seen a re-birth of experiential retailing (the likes of Build-A-Bear and American Girl are also part of that resurgence) and am excited about the possibilities. I am a tad concerned about the financial model for this size store, but if they are able to manage it properly, this could be dynamite.

My eldest son and I can’t wait to go back for another exciting ride at PGA Superstore, and we may even bring the whole family next time.

TheRetailTherapist 🙂