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PGA Tour corners a market on the move

April 29, 1997

There are limited ways to make the time pass while waiting in an airport. One of them is browsing shops. And as any retailer worth his salt will say, the toughest part of making the sale is getting the customer into the store.

When is comes to golf consumers, just try to keep them out of a store where they can buy golf merchandise.

If you build it, they will come _ and they will buy. It’s just a matter of putting the store in the right place.

One place to find golfers is on the golf course.

Another is at airports.

The PGA Tour noticed and through its official licensee _ The Paradies Shops _ it grabbed the consumer on the move.

Wander through many of the major airports in the United States and there will be the bright red, white and blue PGA Tour logo of a golfer at the top of his follow through.

That will be a sign that some of the most upscale golf apparel and other merchandise will be available.

The first airport shop opened in 1991 at Jacksonville, Fla., the home base of the PGA Tour, and now there are 21 of them in 19 cities. By the end of the year that number will increase to 26 shops in 24 cities.

Dallas and Tucson, Ariz., are the cities with two shops each.

The original idea for the shops was mostly a public relations gimmick that turned into a successful marketing plan

``We did it on the basis of how we could have high visibility to promote the PGA,″ said Jeff Monday, vice president of retail licensing for the PGA Tour. ``The airline demographics closely reflects the demographics of the golf audience.″

It makes total sense. Golfers are an upscale market and would tend to be the kind of business people who are on the move for work. Now when they are on the move they see a giant advertisement for the PGA Tour and can drop a few bucks.

``The shops have been very well received due to the fact that we carry high quality and unique merchandise from many of golf’s finest manufacturers,″ said Rick Lillie, vice president of merchandising and operations for The Paradies Shops.

Included among the merchandise sold at the airport shops is the PGA Tour’s own merchandise line, which is new this year.

The airport stores are owned and operated by The Paradies Shops under an exclusive license with the PGA Tour and are in such cities as Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit and Nashville.

``New stores will open in Columbus Ohio, Memphis, Washington National, Phoenix and Columbia, S.C.,″ Monday said, ``all places we have tournaments.″

The shops started as a segment within existing retail outlets at airports, but have become so successful that they now operate as free-standing shops.

``They have been a great public relations vehicle,″ Monday said, ``and over and above that they make a viable business. It has been very beneficial to Paradies and has done what we wanted in terms of creating brand awareness.″

In addition to grabbing the consumer, the shops also captured the attention of those in the retail industry. The industry newsletter for airports voted the PGA Tour-licensed shops the top concept in airport stores each of the last two years.

As obsessed as golfers are about the game, they are almost as obsessed about spending money on the game. In its airport stores, the PGA Tour and The Paradies Shops seem to have found a perfect place to corner the consumer.

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