By ALAN SNEL
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who co-founded Home Depot, is keeping an eye on a new sports retail store that just began renting 30,000 square feet in Downtown Summerlin, only a few stores down from Trader Joe’s.
Blank’s PGA Tour Superstore retail golf chain just opened its 31st location less than a month ago at the Downtown Summerlin location, with a company business plan of having 50 retail stores open by 2020. It replaces the former Golfsmith retail store that closed at the end of 2016 after a two-year run.
The golf market in the Las Vegas area is an economic mixed bag, with the market hosting a major-league PGA event while also seeing several golf courses closing such as the Badlands course off Alta Drive a few miles away from the PGA Tour Superstore.
But you won’t find a more bullish supporter of the PGA Tour Superstore than its general manager, Alan Lebarts, who believes his store can financially do well in revenues and also drive the sport for women and kids.
Lebarts said Golfsmith was actually a financially successful location before it liquidated its golf gear as part of a takeover by sports retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which runs retailer Golf Galaxy in the west valley. The prized retail spot in Downtown Summerlin sat empty for about a year until PGA Tour Superstore added another 6,000 square feet to the old Golfsmith site and opened Dec. 16.
Among the many golfers who visited the store on that first day was none other than local Summerlin resident O.J. Simpson, who was fitted for golf clubs.
“He showed up on his own. He wasn’t paid. I know there are mixed views on his escapades,” said GM Lebarts, who noted Simpson was cordial and friendly with customers.
Lebarts loves the location and says the retail golf site will work well with other sports projects in the Downtown Summerlin area, such as the Vegas Golden Knights’ $31 million twin-rink training center/team headquarters and the Las Vegas 51s’ new $150 million Triple A ballpark set to open in 2019.
Indeed, Lebarts has a valid point. Not only is Downtown Summerlin a commercial retail and restaurant area, it also is developing a sports-business side with City National Arena and Las Vegas Ballpark along South Pavilion Center Drive on the east side of Downtown Summerlin and the 30,000-square-foot PGA Tour Superstore on the development’s west side.
“This store fits Summerlin. It’s not bad that it was a golf store before,” said Lebarts, now working at his fourth PGA Tour Superstore. The closest Superstore is in Scottsdale, Arizona and Irvine, California, Lebarts said.
The PGA Tour Superstore brand bought the licensing rights from the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.-based PGA Tour, and the Downtown Summerlin store plans to have some type of relationship with the PGA event at TPC Summerlin, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. That relationship will be worked out, he said.
The PGA Tour Superstore’s sale strategy is based on training workers to treat customers with family-like service and offer free club fittings and clinics, with a special focus on getting more women and kids involved.
There is a junior putting course for kids in the store and lots of floor space dedicated to women’s clothing. Lebarts has a word to describe the customer experience in the store — “retail-tainment.”
He also said the store tries to make the sport affordable, offering club sets starting at $200 and ranging to $3,000, with putters going for as low as $50 to $500. The PGA Tour Superstore also offers practice areas where golfers can strike balls for $9.99 a session or $99.99 for a year pass. A camera is videotaping the customers’ swings, too.
Customers can try out golf clubs in the rear of the store, where there are no brand names on the wall in that area. “We don’t push brands on customers. It’s whatever fits the price point and the comfort of the customer. It’s up to the customer,” Lebarts said.
The GM said 25 workers are employed at the store and PGA Tour Superstore arranges for its employees to meet store vendors such as Ping, Cobra, Titleist and adidas in Florida to learn about the store’s products. Large colorful visuals showing local golf courses such as TPC Summerlin decorate the store’s walls.
“There is a thirst for golf business on this side of town. Golf is still viable,” Lebarts said.
The store’s revenues during its first year will determine the accuracy of that statement.
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