Blog: Specialty Stores Have to Think Outside the Big Box

I have a lot of respect for small specialty sports stores. Whether they're selling bicycles, skis, running shoes, tennis racquets or something else, they have a tough row to hoe. They have small staffs and tight budgets. They can't buy in the quantities necessary to compete with the really low prices on the Internet, and they often aren't able to offer the selection of colors and sizes found there either. Worse, they usually share their town with at least one sporting goods chain store or a big-box department store.

That's why I'm always interested when small stores run innovative programs that bring customers in the door and teach them about the expertise and good advice they'll find in independent businesses, something people can rarely locate online or in a superstore.

These events are usually creative. Sometimes, it's a ski store that holds an in-store session by a personal trainer who discusses good stretches to do before you hit the slopes. Sometimes, it's a demo night for new racquets at a tennis store. Sometimes, it's information about getting your kids fitted for the right kind of bicycle helmet.

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