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Old 12-15-2012, 03:22 PM
18 posts, read 29,082 times
Reputation: 20


Hello all,
Looking to open up a small full service tennis shop in Austin. I am from out of the area. I need your help with comparing two very different areas (even if you don't play tennis I would like your input). Currently I am thinking Downtown or North Austin near Arboretum/Whole Foods area. The shop would be opened 10 am-7 pm, mon-sat. One of the most important factors is the ease/ability for customers to drive to my shop during hours of operation within an approx. 15-20 mile radius. Being in the business currently, I have found that a tennis shop is a destination-type retail store that customers will drive up to 20 miles depending on traffic.

I like North Austin near Whole Foods because of proximity to many suburbs and I suspect people come from all over to do their shopping.

I like downtown because high population during the day and proximity to wealthy communities such as Rollingwood, West Lake Hills, etc.

It would also help being close to as many busy public tennis courts as possible.

That being said...which location would be better and why?

Thank you!
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Old 12-15-2012, 03:43 PM
Location: Austin, Texas
1,983 posts, read 3,243,151 times
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Hmmm. I think your business would do well in either place just from the fact that Austin is quite the active/outdoorsy type of city.

Downtown would be more visible as you said. More people would know about it if it were DT (imo) and it could draw a more diverse portion of Austin (people from North, South, East, and West Austin). Not to mention the foot traffic is higher DT than in North Austin. Also, Austin has national acclaim when it comes to small business, and DT is the poster child of Austin's small business mecca. Not to mention DT's population is more active than the rest of Austin and might produce a higher demand.

North Austin could be more beneficial with regard to customer loyalty. People in these areas may be more inclined to shop around where they live and might be more likely to re-shop at your store. Less wealthy than DT, but more common I guess you could say.

Another thing to consider is how the population shops. People who live in Austin's northern suburbs may be inclined to trust bigger, more generic type stores such as Academy and others. They might also go shopping with something in mind (if they are going for groceries or clothes, there is little chance they will be picking up something sports-related). DT shoppers will be less 'eye on the prize' and more 'let's see what is out there to buy', but more volatile.

I think you would do well in either location. Hope this helps and good luck with your business!
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:16 PM
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Thanks for the insight! The competition would be a few tennis centers/country clubs. My store will be no more than 1000 sq. feet but will have 3-5 times more options than tennis centers. It is just like a specialty tennis shop you would find in CA or FL. Could you picture stay-at-home tennis moms and other possible customers making a trip into downtown Austin during the day or is downtown mostly made up of people who work or live there?
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:18 PM
Location: Austin, TX
16,787 posts, read 48,121,998 times
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A quick google maps search for "tennis courts near Austin, TX" show a high number of hits near and north of the Arboretum as well as the close in northern parts of central Austin. The Arboretum has better access from either part of town and better parking. I'd go with that.

If I lived in the fringes of Austin there is no way I'd go downtown, to shop for tennis stuff.

Last edited by CptnRn; 12-15-2012 at 04:26 PM..
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:20 PM
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I also googled tennis courts in the area. That is a great point!
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:20 PM
Location: Avery Ranch, Austin, TX
8,978 posts, read 17,086,088 times
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Best of luck, sun dance. I come from 35 years in the business and I suppose it's fortunate that I 'retired' when we moved here. There were a couple of shops listed online when we got here in '08; but both had closed by the time we arrived. Coming from Atlanta, the dearth of tennis specialty shops was quite a shock(not a surprise, but still...).

Does that mean the area is ready to pounce on a well-stocked tennis specialty store? Not sure...
You've got Golfsmith in the Arboretum area; not that it's a specialty store per se; but it would be a factor, location-wise. You've also got Dick's, Sports Authority and Academy dotted throughout the metro. I've never seen 'on the floor' stringing at any of these locations...virtually all of their rackets are sold pre-strung with a few exceptions.Stringing service is offered, but it's darned near invisible at the big boxes. Does that present an opportunity?

Personally, I don't see an area downtown that would be reasonable in rent yet offer a location conducive to convenient customer service. I don't think there would be a retail situation that could survive on the UT traffic, either.

Also, finding 'as many public tennis courts as possible' will be a challenge. The public centers are pretty small and most have their own stringing service, if not a full shop.

IF someone told me I had to make a go of a tennis shop in the Austin area, I'd have to either hook up with a center and work every hour it was open OR I'd work out of the house and keep the overhead to a minimum. I've given this some thought lately as I've been following a related thread on the Tennis Warehouse message board. I was remembering all the 'other' things the very successful shop I managed back in the '70s had to do in the last couple of decades to survive...snow ski apparel and equipment, roller blades and roller hockey when they were popular, etc. A similar 'co-op' in Austin would likely be tennis/cycling or tennis/running...tough, no matter how you look at it.

Even a tie-in with something like Play It Again Sports 'could' offer a tennis 'division'; but the location would be paramount.

Good luck! If you need a stringer/teaching pro with three decades worth of experience, I could be forced out of retirement a few hours a week.

Here's a tennis court map for the Austin area. At first glance, it looks impressive; but taking out the private courts and school facilities will show you how sparse the 'public tennis courts' selection is...

Places to play tennis in Austin, TX | Tennis Maps
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:22 PM
Location: Austin, TX
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Definitely, Northwest Austin: around the Arborteum & Domain shopping areas are your bets.
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:24 PM
Location: Austin, TX
16,787 posts, read 48,121,998 times
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FYI Google Trends shows a studily decreasing interest in "tennis" in the state of Texas over the last 12 years. To bad it does not allow one to search by city or zip code, one day that will be possible.

Google Trends
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:49 PM
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You're probably better off north - but please come downtown, Austin CBD desperately needs more retail. 190 restaurants but you can't buy a tennis ball to save your life.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:17 PM
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I have no idea about how your business will do based on it's location but there is so much vacant retail up North I can't imagine you couldn't get a better deal there vs. downtown.
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