Amanda Davis, the 2019 New England PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is the Co-Owner, Golf Shop Manager and PGA Assistant Professional at Essex County Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
At Essex County Club, we don’t have a fitness center onsite but have started carrying athleisure wear, adding Lululemon to our merchandise mix this year. With a great gym a mile away and a thriving paddle program here at the club, members are looking for these great new products.
In addition to Lululemon, many other brands are producing similarly-themed items. After all, a strong athleisure product is all about the fabric, performance and fit, and brands like Peter Millar, RLX, KJUS and Lilly Pulitzer have replicated these important indicators. We have also done well with Theragun by Therabody, as well as the CBD brand Medterra.
My husband (and our PGA Head Professional), Jack Davis, and I have always strived to offer more than a traditional golf shop because this concept expands our customer base. Ours is an active family club where only half the members play golf. Attracting those non-golfers is crucial to our growth.
While our shop stays open until Christmas and reopens in March, we’ll market and promote applicable items to our paddle players starting in October. Garments that stretch and provide warmth are popular during that time of year in New England. Most people will wear multiple layers, as the temperatures can be unpredictable.
We display all men’s and women’s Lululemon products together with similarly-themed merchandise, like athleisure wear from other brands, and the popular Theragun mentioned earlier. We carried leggings by Lululemon and Lilly Pulitzer for the first time in 2021, but were concerned that members might consider these items suitable for the golf course. So, to educate them, we created a small tag reminding members of the dress policy to hopefully avoid any issues.
Manchester-by-the-Sea is a very active community, and many of our members stay busy with other sports and outdoor activities. We could remain focused on our golf market only, but I believe this category has provided some significant growth, even without a fitness center onsite. Certain elements might be slower to grow, such as leggings, but I feel you have to give it a year or two to really see it through.