|Park Meadow Tennis Shop|
Almost three years ago now, I wrote a piece when Elaine and Chris Capps opened Park Meadow Tennis Shop (PMTS- click here for that piece) in Fort Myers in one of the most convenient locations one could have in this town. Elaine and Chris provided then and do now, a different tennis shopping experience than was available to our tennis community.
|TENNIS "R" US storefront in Bonita Springs|
Now, perhaps due to the rise in recreational tennis play across the country and to the revival of the popularity the professional game we saw in the 80s, the Greater Fort Myers area has become home to another tennis retail entity: TENNIS “R” US, on US 41 in Bonita Springs (I’ve given you the Facebook link because the website is still a work in progress).
|Plenty of merchandise, plenty of space|
This “you-have–to-see-it-to-believe-it” tennis shop (more like a tennis mega store) was born in November of 2012, and is the second TENNIS ”R” Us in Southwest Florida, being the younger brother (or sister if you prefer) of the original in Naples.
|Tammy Hallam- Store Manager|
Both locations (and I’m told the newer version may soon be the only version) are owned and operated by Jan and Vladka David and their seven children, uh huh, seven children. I suspect that this devout tennis family, runs a “family business” in the true sense of the word, because in my three visits to the Bonita Springs location, I met two of the six David girls (yup, I said six girls!) doing duty in the store.
Abbie (age 20) was doing the "stringing thing" two of the three times I was there, and the other occasion, Vivienne (16) was working the counter and, unfortunately, was there well past closing waiting on her dad and me. Sorry Viv! If you have been around tennis in the area, you are probably at least familiar with
Jonathan David, one of the
top Open players in the southwest. Ya know, I could probably write about the
fascinating Davids for pages, but that’s not my purpose here. I just want to do
my part to introduce you to TENNIS “R” Us and vice versa.
Maybe it was the unassuming tinted glass façade that greeted me when I pulled into the parking lot across from Bonita Bay, but as I walked into TENNIS “R” US, I was struck by the sheer size of the well-lit, spacious, and nicely laid out floor plan. The place was chock-full of tennis “stuff” but it wasn’t crammed or cramped. I have been in a few tennis retail stores in my almost 40 years in the game, and I can’t remember a tennis-exclusive store that was as large and spacious as the TENNIS “R” US in Bonita Springs.
|Just a portion of the racquets on hand|
Did I say it was well-lit and airy? Oh I did. Well it’s worth repeating, and that comes with lots of room to walk down aisles, to browse through the wide variety of clothing, racquets, shoes, and accessories, it was a shopper’s dream. And you may not know it yet, but I am a stickler for good customer service, and when I called for directions, and when I showed up at the store, even before they knew me from Adam and that I planned to write about the establishment, Abbie and Tammy Hallam, store manager, greeted me pleasantly and with smiles. It was no different when I went back to meet with Jan.
|Jan shares racquet wisdom|
As I waited for Jan that afternoon, I watched and listened as he guided a customer through the racquet selection process, and you would be thrilled if your doctor took that much time and care with you. Whether the customer bought anything this time or not, I’m betting he’ll be back in and that he will refer friends as well. That’s what good customer service does.
|Pickleball racquets too!|
Regardless of how far as customer service takes you, to be a retail success, you have to provide what people want and do it in an environment that makes them want to be there. The incredible selection of racquets (even pickleball!), tennis shoes, clothing, bags, and every other thing tennis you can name ensures the former, and the comfortable confines of TENNIS “R” US provides the latter.
|A portion of the incredible shoe inventory|
I might be jumping the gun here, but after taking a look at what Jan is working on and has planned, I can’t help but get excited. If things continue to develop as they are, the TENNIS “R” US web platform promises to be an equation something along the lines of Facebook + Craig’s List + Tenniswarehouse.com = Totally plugged in tennis community!
In theory, one could logon to the TENNIS “R” US web community, put a couple of racquets up for sale, check out what’s going on in local tennis, enter an event or two, order a new racquet, a pair of tennis shoes, or a new skirt, chat with a few (or many) tennis friends, book a lesson with a local pro, or any combination of the above. Oh yeah, and if you’re in a hurry, you don’t have to wait for the mail or pay shipping costs, because you could drive down 41 and pick up your tennis stuff. How sweet is that!!!
Ok, ok, I may have gotten just a tad carried away there, but seriously, that is what TENNIS “R” US is working on. Regarding the communal or “Facebook-like” component, Jan says, “Tennis is an individual sport and when it comes to the communication between players, there is no real alternative to Facebook. Also, there is no platform that would be easy to use and where all tennis information and communication is just “one click” away. That’s one of the things we want to change with the TENNIS”R” US website.”
Given the vast variety and incredible deals one can find online, I’ve often wondered how local retail enterprises can compete. In communicating about the above, Jan wrote, “In 2005 we bought the oldest tennis shop in Southwest Florida: THE TENNIS SHOP OF NAPLES. But over the years we realized that the size of this shop cannot compete with the ever changing tennis retail environment…online stores with nearly unlimited merchandise selection completely changed tennis retail.
“It [the new store and web format] may be not much compared to the biggest online stores, but it will increase the merchandise availability for tennis players in SW Florida – the clientele we want to serve the most.”
Regarding his vision for the enterprise, Jan wrote, “TENNIS “R” US is a TENNIS NETWORK where players interact and help each other – it is not a typical online store environment where on one side there is a retailer and on the other, the customers.” TENNIS “R” US is a vision, born of the David family’s passion for tennis, and being raised right here in Southwest Florida with old-fashioned elbow grease. TENNIS “R” US has the merchandise, it has the service, now all it needs is YOU to make that vision reality.
Check out TENNIS “R” US at 25987 S. Tamiami Trail in Bonita Springs (east side of 41) or call 239-262-6497, and don’t hesitate to visit them on Facebook as well.