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01-15-2005, 10:18 AM #1
How to build a badminton store 101
This is a long post, so only read if you've got the time!
The other day, I was in the local Sports Experts (it's a chain store sports place in Quebec, not sure if it's anywhere else other than Canada), and there was a lady there who wanted to buy a racket for her 12 year old son who seemed to like badminton. The store guy asked two questions: "how serious is your son?" and "how serious are you about supporting your son?"
The lady replied that her son was just starting out, not really knowing what to say... and that's understandable. And so the store guy recommended the Yonex MP-100 and the Yonex AT800of.
Nowwwwwwwwww, i don't know about you, but I think we skipped a few steps here. I got into a fight (verbally, of course) of how that's totally a lamebrained approach. He didn't ask anything about the kid's playing style, he didn't explain anything about how to chose a racket-- flex, price-performance, ISO vs Oval, overalweight, balance, construction materials-- nothing. Just these inadaqute and decidedly uncaring questions about "seriousness".
You should have seen that lady's eyes bug out when he took the rackets off the top of the display wall, and she saw the price tags "on special". It must've been quite the shock, considering that the racket that she brought in with broken strings was one of those backyard-badminton kits.
And I'm sick of that. I argued with that store guy for a good 5 minutes, and all it got for my trouble is that the manager came by and tried to "calm me down". Which is funny, because I'm a very reasonable person-- it wasn't as if I was jumping up and down beating the the sales clerk with the rackets. I was simply questioning him in front of that lady to proove how badminton-ignorant this guy was.
I think if your store has a badminton section, then hell-- get a badminton guy or don't have the section. Don't think that your tennis guy is gonna be able to do the job-- I suppose it's better than nothing, but if your store is called "Sports Experts" then get the experts. Don't just hire anybody 16-30 year old who looks relatively fit and looks good with a store vest and a coach's whistle around their neck.
Anyway, in the end, I picked up my tube of Mavis 300 and left, because I wasn't really getting anywhere. Might I add that it cost me 11.99$ CAN, which I think is ridiculous, but I was desparate and was heading to the gym right after.
I think the woman actually declined to buy something that day in the end, prefering to come back with her son and maybe do some research in advance. I recommended checking the manufacturers' website for junior models or beginner rackets (if only to save some cash) and to even check out badmintoncentral, heh.
So anyway-- I must say that I've never tried an MP-100 or an AT800-- and I have no doubt that some people will argue that those rackets are worth every penny. I just don't think that the current trends of how badminton stuff is sold in uncaring chainstores is right.
Remember how there was that discussion on the IBF's attemtps to improove the popular image of badminton especially in NorthAm? Well, my own theory is that all the great elites were once intermediates, and intermediates were once beginners-- but that beginner generation is getting killed off by stupid chain stores that overprice and under-inform. Okay, so maybe some people (like yourselves) might know something about badminton and know what you want before you come in the store-- but the majority of the world doesn't play badminton-- shouldn't the store's service then be tailored to reflect that fact? And shouldn't their response be something other than to simply sell, sell sell without discrimination?
Like I said, I have nothing against those rackets-- in fact, I use yonexes myself. And though that was the most extreme case I've ever personally had to deal with, i assure you that when I was first starting badminton, the staff at most of the other chain stores I've tried were just as unhelpful.
So anyway. I've been thinking about how fed up i was of paying so much and getting so little service in return... and I've decided to open my own store.
I'm 21 and in university with tuition to pay, so I can't afford an actual physical store. My storefront will be online, and my stockroom will be my room. My product testers will be some volunteer friends and family. My girlfriend will help with the website and do the translations for the french version of the website (I live in Montreal). I'll be shipping Canada Parcel Post. I am the president, receiving department, accounting departement, marketing guy, manager, web-designer and janitor.
My mission will be to offer badminton to the world, without killing their wallets, and with SERVICE. Now, I don't mean to say i know everything-- but I'm willing to learn, and I'm willing to be honest.
The store will be called Jinryu Racketsports Montreal. Honestly, Montreal's a great place-- I've posted in other threads how the guys and gals at the local YMCA basically took me in and is what made me want to play badminton more seriously. I want my clients to ask me questions before they buy, and after they buy, I want them to feel that they didn't just get ripped off. In fact, if my client lives somewhere reasonably close to my home, I'll deliver the goods personally so they don't have to pay for postage. (From personal experience, there's nothing worse than wanting to buy something for 10$ and seeing that postage is 10$ as well)
You'd be surprised how hard it is to find distributors who sympathize with a goal like that. I was essentially turned down by Yonex, Black Knight and Prince. They said I needed an actual physical store and that I had to demonstrate "competitiveness"... ah well. HiQua and Gosen were willing too help, but were not willing to offer me wholesale prices unless i bought about 10 boxes at a time... that would be 10 cubic meters worth of badminton gear.
Now, I guess it's not their fault that I don't have the capital to buy 10 cubic meters of ANYTHING or to own a physical store. But anyway.
On the happy side, I am grateful to RSL (maker of the world's "No. 1 Shuttlecock") and Karakal (maker of "the world's lightest racket") who have agreed to work with me and sell me quantities of their products with no minimum purchase amount. So that's my starting lineup so far, and from what I see of the lists, I can sell things pretty cheaply. The profits I make aren't to make me a millionaire (although it would be nice wouldn't it?) but rather, just to pay the expenses of webhosting, my own time, and to treat my volunteers to dinner every now and then.
Annnyway. I read a dozen books about starting your own business, and the one stage i haven't really covered is the tedious "market research" and opinion gathering stage... so that's where I'm asking for your help.
I have learned more from fellow badminton players than I ever did from a book or from a store. I'd like to know if anyone has ever started a badminton store, or any store, and what are your experiences? What do you think will be my downfall? how do you think I can improove?
My "game plan" is to start off by selling consumables-- feathers and nylons, and grips, and few rackets. Advertising is me using my products at the gyms i play at and putting up advertisments there, and in local university and collge gym depts. I am staying away from eBay like the plague, because nothing says "fishy" like a badmiton racket on ebay (thanks to the hawks at BC!). I'll be accepting cash, money orders, personal cheques, and paypal-- getting a direct business account from visa and mastercard seems complicated at the momment, so I'm not touching that until i see if this store is working out properly.
Thanks in advance for helping out. Yes, this is a bit of a poorly disguised publicity post , but moreover, i really need some feedback on this subject if the store is to work out for the whole of the canadian badminton community... (prices are just too high and service is just too low in someplaces!)
you don't have to PM me, just post your replies here and maybe a BCer in your area will try the same thing.
01-15-2005, 10:35 AM #2
Some suggestions for you (may be bad suggestions afterall )
there seems to be a growing interests for non-yonex rackets, so I think it's fine if they don't support you. As for BK and Prince, honestly I don't see a whole lot of interest from people.
Your store may well by carrying other brands like Gosen (my fav), SOTX, Winex....etc.
01-15-2005, 01:20 PM #3
Originally Posted by Jinryu
Things that I don't see in badminton stores are polo shirts. Perhaps you can sell those as well. In in the japanese bussiness world, the #1 factor in success is innovation. THat's why Nintendo beat the Sega Genisis in the console wars.
(Perhaps we can see a "MARIO Badminton" game when Nintendo teams up with yonex?)
You'd be surprised how much customers you'd be getting if you'd have something that gives your store a little extra edge than the others.
But as of now I guess it's smart to start off small to aviod much risk of bankruptcy
OHh and good luck in you bussiness!
01-15-2005, 02:33 PM #4
i agree totally, with the total abandon at which chain sales employees just throw the the most expensive product at the person.
i was at the local sport chek (no more sports experts in alberta!) a couple weeks back, to get a pair of pants, when i walked by the racquet section.
a mother and a boy, about ten to twelve years old was looking at he selection of badminton racquets.
she spotted me and immediately asked if i played badminton (she probably caught the racquet bag hanging on my back), and asked for any recommendations, and said she feared asking the sales rep because of poor knowledge and sales tactics. hahaha.
i simply asked the skill level of her child, to which she replied with "he's a beginner, looking for a racquet for school phys ed."
i then asked if he likeds it, and intended to play to get well at it, and she followed that up saying her son tried it at school before and really enjoyed it.
i then looked at the shelf, and pulled down a cab 8400, iso 30vf, and a unknown techno brand racquet.
"this carbonex 8400 has a oval head, which is good to develop technique, this isometric 30 vf, has a different head shape, because the top here, is boxed to make the 'hitting area' larger, making it easier to strike the shuttle. i would recommend either one of these yonex racquets to begin with, to develop technique and skill level, before proceeding to more expensive and higher level racquets, with particular play styles in mind. if you are afraid of your son breaking the racquet, or having it stolen at school, buy this techno one"
she asked me the differences between the two yonex ones again, and i simply replied "he won't notice any differences at his current level. just ask him which color he likes most."
i noted to her to ensure the shaft and frame was straight as first priority and not to worry about slight blemishes in the paint, before going on my way.
she eventually helped him pick out a cab 8400, because i saw them at the other check-out line.
01-15-2005, 07:31 PM #5
Chickenpoodle, see, you're the kind of person who should be working in the badminton section!
I'd offer you a job when my store works out, only I don't actually have a physical store as I mentioned.
Acwong, that's a good point. I feel that though yonex might be the pack leader, you pay a premium for that kind of performance... I don't know what's the difference exactly between cost price and suggested retail for yonexes, but I'm guessing that it's a lot more than with the "less popular" brands as you mentioned.
I think my strategy actually will be to sell mostly the things that are harder to find in Quebec, namely, the non-yonex brands that offer better cost-performance value. Although, yonex or not, it doesn't really matter yet because i'm targetting the beginner to intermediate market for now. The yonex "beginer and intermidiate" rackets offer a pretty good value i suppose, but without a trade deal it's impossible-- at those levels anyhow, i think non-yonexes are just as good as yonexes.
As far as rackets go, I don't think i'm gonna aim to please the elite class players as much at first-- Pros already know how to shop for the top rackets (and judging from the long lists in that other thread, money isn't always an issue when it comes to getting the racket you want)-- they can probably buy them for cheaper than i can!
What i want to do is focus on the beginner and mid level ranges, where people mostly need the information and need a racket to, as chickenpoodle suggests, improve basic skills. After they've had that start, well, in terms of consumer awareness, they'll have enough knowledge to shop around for a good priced advanced racket elsewhere.... Assuming of course that by that time, i'm not carrying those 'advanced' rackets myself!
I think mostly though i'm relying on bird sales to keep me afloat till i make a name for myself... beginers or pros, everyone needs birds.
Last edited by Jinryu; 01-15-2005 at 07:41 PM.
01-15-2005, 10:24 PM #6
hmm...maybe you should try yang-yang rackets as well,
haven't been following their rackets much, but i have a friend who thinks it's tactics/jsmash series among the best he has used... badmintonalley also gives it good reviews
disclaimer: I do not work for yang-yang nor am i related to any yang-yang employees. I do not receive any form of profit for this post whatsoever. In fact I have never used a yang-yang before.
background of my friend: played seriously on doubles team in school, made it to the Pahang State finals using his yang-yang tactic 8500...and then the racket broke(at the shaft) and they lost the final. On the court he's an aggressive player that flies around the court and does quite alot of jump smashes(from games i have played with him...but he might just be having fun bullying me )
01-16-2005, 12:10 AM #7
I am also interested in starting up an online badminton store. Maybe we can keep in touch and share our experiences.
01-16-2005, 08:42 AM #8
Very interesting story. When a beginner shops for a new racket, I expect the shop employee to ask what his budget is and at least show him some intro-level rackets. Anyway, I always buy my rackets at a specialty store. The owner is very knowledgeable about the different brands, very frank and usually makes price/performance comparisons which I find most useful.
His approach of expanding his business is to go to all the big clubs in the area and make deals with the club managers. He advertises in the club magazines and gives 25% discount to the club members. Btw, that's 25% off the list price (which nobody in his right mind would pay anyway), so he can still make a decent profit. I don't think his margins are that high, but his turnover probably is. You just need a few nuts who buy 5-6 rackets a year in every club (ahem....like me) and you have decent repeat business. As the news spreads about you (how great a service you provide and how nice a guy you are), other people will find you and of course you charge them the full price. Well, maybe give them 5-10% discount if they're good customers. Ok, that's my suggestion and wish you the best of luck.
01-16-2005, 09:09 AM #9
Thanks all for your replies,
novl, I agree totally.
In the montreal area as far as I know, there are only a handful of racketshops, and even less that specialize in badminton, but you are right, they are the beginners' best bets to find a racket with the help of knowledgable staff. I think what usually happens though is that people new to badminton are under the illusion that a chain store can get you the better deal, because they somehow can cut on costs...
The specialty store in the area are also generally similarly priced to the chainstores. You might find some top line rackets for 10-20$ cheaper than the chains, but in many cases prices are the same (if not more expensive). I know some people who were beginners who felt much easier (unfortunately) going into a chainstore than into a speciality store, but it's a psychological thing-- you go into a store that's only as big as a house garage, and people tend to feel claustrophobic and intimidated, they feel that they need to be experts to go in there. It turns them off to real benefits-- the added service and dedication that a minimum wage chainguy can't match.
Hopfeully, since I don't have to pay employees by the hour or rent by the month (aside from webhosting i suppose) i can transfer those savings into the final cost of my products.
I agree though that word of mouth is the way to go-- at the gyms I play with, people almost exclusively use yonex and a few blacknights, a babolat and a prince or two-- if I walk in there using a different racket, that's advertising on it's own (although it would help if i was a better player!)) but certainly, that's the way to go. The people at my most frequent gym usually use Mavis 300 or 350 birds, so I'm going out of my way to buy yonex birds off an out-of-province store in bulk, just so that i can resell it... the profit will be marginal, enough that i almost don't make anything, but :
A) I'll still be saving the average badminton player a few dollars per tube off the cost in a chain or most speciality stores
B) If they live in montreal, the shipping will be free and I'll even bring it to them, rather then have them go to a store
C) I'll be establishing a customer base and word of mouth advertising to just get me into the back of peoples' heads.
I'll see how long i can keep that up, I haven't actually put this tactic into practice yet, and I'm guessing that in the long run if my store does work out it may get difficult to offer THIS MUCH service without going insane, but to start off, i gotta make some extra provisions.
In the meantime, i'm hoping to wean people off of Mavis birds altogether. Not that they're not quality birds, but i'm almost certain that cheaper nylons that provide similar durability and flight are out there (I just haven't found a viable supplier in canada yet). Personally, I'd use feathers, (Like the RSL or DTL series that i will carry) because for me I can obtain and sell those significantly cheaper-- even if two feathers break for every one nylon, the overal costs for feathers usually comes out cheaper than Mavis's in store... but it's a relatively unpopular thing around here, because people want durability... hopefully that will change.
01-16-2005, 11:43 AM #10
If you can find a better grip than yonex's supergrap for a better price, I'll be a regular customer . The only thing I can find here thats not tennis related grip is yonex's supergrap.
01-16-2005, 03:55 PM #11
i would recommend doing some sort of ebay channel as well.
not all the guys who sell on there are bad, and the few just make the name bad, as you mentioned.
selling from canada is also a HUGE benefit, as people know there are hardly any counterfeit stuff going on here.
the online-dealing will help with establishing in name and reputation, and online advertisement will be easier and more profiting actually. its easier for people to order goods on a readily accessible website than to come look for a little store on an obscure city street.
if you decide on starting the store off catering to the beginners, i would suggest giving the advanced and established crew a means of ordering certain things as well. this would also help get your foot in their business, which is where most things will lead, as beginners progress to verterans and advanced stages.
perhaps by the time your first beginner comes looking for high end racquets, you may even stock them on a regular basis already...
i think specializing in particular brands may also help at first, as these brands may see that the region you are in lacks representation, and seeing you may be the first to do so, they might even help out with the trade-off being extra advertisement. benefits may dissapear when you start increasing in brand variety.
karakal and RSL should be a very good way to start off.
in fact, it might be beneficial to avoid large names such as yonex for the time being, as you won't nearly be as competive as larger stores for a while to come. it would be easier to avoid direct competition until you have established a foothold in the business.
Last edited by chickenpoodle; 01-16-2005 at 03:58 PM.
01-16-2005, 07:55 PM #12
Why don't you post the website up right now? (Is it done? :s) I'm sure we would all love to track ur progress, maybe making it the badminton central store
01-16-2005, 08:42 PM #13
Originally Posted by chickenpoodle
anyway..chickenpoodle's got a point...ebay, as a popular site, would be a good place to develope a name for your store, help refer more people to your website. Think of it as advertisement...
ploppers got an interesting point, remember to post it here when it's done and we might be able to make it a BC canada branch online store
Last edited by wubuseah; 01-16-2005 at 08:56 PM.
01-16-2005, 10:28 PM #14
Hi Jinryu, That's Good. At least what we need is somebody is experience in badminton is able to advise consumer on the right product. If you have the $$ why not invest on stringing machine and maybe you may sell racket bag.
I know these guy at my area who is taking a serious interest when you are buying a new racket. He is selling badminton equipment from his house, he sell normal brand like Victor & protech racket. RSL, Victor, Protech bag.
You may try this approach sell to your club fellow or try and develope your circle of friends and promote these badminton equipment
01-17-2005, 11:33 AM #15
Originally Posted by ploppers
It's rather amazing how looking at existing online stores, some of them are really nice, despite being simple. And yet, despite simplicity in appearance, they're actually quite hard to conceptualize and code
Originally Posted by chickenpoodle
Actually, that's one thing i should probably look into, getting some sorta Visa/Mastercard registration so that i can accept credit cards directly (as opposed to through paypal)... too many middle men are gonna have a negative effect on the final price paid by the client...
As far as bags and stuff go, indeed, I'm looking into that as well. For sure, one of the first steps is buy a racketbag of one of my own manufacturers and use it to go to the gym, heh. Although, I don't know how demand for bags is-- out of rackets, shuttlecocks, grips, etc, bags have got to be by definition the least sold item. Not only that, but like clothing, I'm a bit hesitant to throw any of my limited capital in that area at the momment, because it's highly a question of personal style-- a potential customer may very well want a certain size bag, but when you factor in the possibility that he might not like the color or the shape, there won't be much I can do.
I was thinking of a policy along the lines of "If i don't have it in stock, you can have 5% off for the extra delay"-- something to appease the people who need their gear and need it fast. (In the past, i've gone to other stores because I didn't want to wait for special delivery delays...). Although I'm not sure about this. Do you think customers are willing to wait? I know that in some stores, special ordering actually costs EXTRA. It's a really, really bad example and I'm beating an exceptionally dead horse, but when I was shopping around to find the best price on a CAB30ms, sports experts offered to sell it to me for the suggested retail PLUS 20-30% just for special ordering it. Which I think is really bad business. Another place in montreal (whose name I won't mention, because I do occasionally buy stuff from there and he's one of the few places where you can get real service) makes you pay the additional postage for a single item shipment.
With regards to it being a 'badminton central branch store', I wasn't aware that badmintoncentral officially affiliated itself with any stores?
01-17-2005, 11:37 AM #16
Because it was too egotistical...
... on another note, the name of the store is gonna be simplified from Jinryu Racketsports Montreal to Racketsports Montreal.
Could you imagine how unwieldy www.jinryuracketsportsmontreal.ca would be? (don't bother clicking, that's hypothetical!)
01-17-2005, 11:39 AM #17
I am surprised that Black Knight was not that helpful. I know Black Knight just did a purge of the 2008 racket. When they first appeared a few years back, the retail price was about CAD$180-200 per racket. The purge price I heard was around CAD$70-80. Someone bought the entire remaining inventory for CAD$1000 - 2000.
I am sure other manufacturers will do bin end sale when they have a new model coming out. May be you can buy off some of their older models.
For plastic shuttle, there may be a competitor on the web already. They are based in Edmonton, AB.
Sport Factor Inc
Good luck in your setup.
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