Rob Clark, the 2003 Dixie PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year, is the PGA director of golf at The Ledges of Huntsville (Alabama).
In 2015 we went to the PGA Merchandise Show looking for a member-guest tee gift that had a really nice presentation, was able to be personalized, and had flexible inventory options. That was key for us: we wanted to give something to our members and their guests that they could walk out with physically holding that day; that’s a next-level gesture that members really value. We found such an item from a casual dress shoe company named Mark Joseph that shipped us a lot of inventory for the event, but was totally fine taking back unsold inventory/incorrect sizes with no penalty to us. This allowed us to do two things: First of all, we were able to get our members and their guests in shoes that day, which obviously leads to a better experience than an IOU gift card where you don’t see the results for three more weeks. Secondly, for a fairly conservative clientele, we were able to introduce a risky new product area for our shop and do it in a personal way. This approach allowed the member to touch, feel and try on the shoe, versus taking a leap with no immediate feedback.
There were 96 participants in the outing and they all got a pair of the shoes that day, with those costs being included in the event price. The true impact on our shop, however, was seen over time. People bought 20 extra pairs of shoes that day (for themselves and family members), so that was an immediate shop impact, and the overall success and feedback from the day allowed us to introduce Mark Joseph as a routine line in our shop. Over the last two seasons we’ve sold 85 additional pairs of shoes, allowing us to go from having zero casual dress shoes in our shop to the genre being a nice producer for us. So find a company at the PGA Show that is OK with flexible inventory options. The personalization factor may pay off for you big-time later.