The Outlook golf shop at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ, was opened in 1984 and its clientele includes residents of the private gated community and outside visitors. Gainey Ranch assistant manager Brett Moore says that golf apparel manufacturers’ use of street wear themes has helped the shop to offer a wider variety of men and women’s lines. The men’s line includes Izod Club and Polo, while the women’s line includes Belle Point, Jean Bell and Evan Picone.
They maneuvered through the 1992 International Golf Show in Anaheim last summer as if on their last walk at finishing school. Heads turned, curious mouths whispered, and groups parted to make way for the buying beauties. “There they are again,” club pros and exhibitors would say as if making a celebrity sighting. All eyes were on the girls of Gainey Ranch, led by assistant general manager, Brett Moore. And they were the golf club’s best examples of how professional, how groomed, how intriguing, how successful a retail operation at a golf club can be.
Gainey Ranch is a private, gated community in Scottsdale, Ariz., developed by Jim Kilday of Markland Properties almost 10 years ago when the Gainey family sold it to concentrate on its winery in the Santa Inez valley outside Santa Barbara. Membership at the semi-private golf club is drawn from Ranch residents as well as “outsiders” in the area and guests of the property’s Hyatt hotel.
The development sounds typical of a desert endeavor, but in this town within a town (there are 1,000 units) there are surprises. The golf shop is not the status quo appendage to a 27-hole resort course (which happens to be a Benz and Poellot design). Yes, the shop incorporates the starter and sits next to the club’s bar and dining room, but it is not referred to as the Gainey Ranch Golf Shop. Named The Outlook, this shop was conceived as a resort boutique carrying a consistent mix of sportswear and golfwear for visitors and residents of Gainey Ranch.
Opened in 1984 under the direction of Moore, a former department store executive, who also founded the 150 member strong Association of Golf Merchandisers, The Outlook is a profit center that has its own identity and concept. After a 40 percent growth in sales its second year, The Outlook has maintained a steady growth pattern for the last nine years. Its women’s inventory is turned five times a year and its men’s three-and-a-half to four times. According to Moore, approximately 60 percent of sales come from hotel guests and outside visitors, and 40 percent from golf club members. But that ratio is evolving. Membership has finally reached its limit and with fewer hotel guests able to get on the course, as well as stricter guest privileges, The Outlook which was skewed towards sportswear in the past, is reflecting those changes.
But there’s more to the demographics of who shops here how often than what the numbers reveal. And once again, it has to do with the women — the ones who support the shop as well as the ones who run it. A user-friendly course has fostered the growth of a 166-member Women’s Association that not only plays together and lunches together, but also shops together and spends countless hours of free time in The Outlook. The area itself is full of networking women, and the golf clubboasts a women’s member-guest tournament as big as its men’s.
“Our challenge is to develop our member business,” says Moore, “which is more difficult than buying for a one-time resort visitor who is on vacation and here to spend money. Overall the maturing membership is great for the Ranch, because we always wanted it to have a full golfing community.” Moore says the transition into a deeper golf mix was made easy when golf apparel manufacturers began drawing on sportswear and streetwear influences. “Now we don’t have to shop every show all over the country.” says Moore, relieved. “The golf shows are almost enough.
The shop is dressed in women’s lines — Izod Club, Ixspa 2000 by Jamie Sadock, Hanasport, Xriss Xross, Corbin, I.B. Diffusion, Toto & Co., Adrienne Vittadini, EP Pro, Evan Picone, Jean Bell, Kenneth Gordon, Head, Tail Active Sportswear, Segrets, Richard Sport, Belle Pointe and Line Up — while the men’s lines, including Haley, Polo, Ashworth, Bobby Jones, Southport Supply, Cross Creek, Izod Club, Nautica, Aureus, Gear for Sports, Coogi, Northern Isle, Crossings and Cutter & Buck, occupy their own space. (One rack of sample Callaway, Hogan, Cobra and Yonex clubs tells the hardgoods story: no floor space, no fast turns, special order only). Along with the evolving mix of apparel, Moore says her prices reflect better value now too. In women’s sweaters range from $100 to $250 instead of $150 to $350 where they were in the ’80s. Shorts range from $65 to $85, and warmups start at $200.
“We want comfortable items that are very easy to wear, easy to care for, easy to travel with,” Moore explains, “especially items that can work in three four groupings, so a gal can wear part of an outfit on the golf course then turn it into a dinner outfit. Women are trained to buy clothes this way, and men are learning.” Moore no longer buys and merchandises tops and bottoms as separate men’s categories. “I can buy weekend wear in groupings for men now.” And, she says, the days of leather and glitz in a resort shop are over. “Customers are switching to a simpler lifestyle,” she argues. “We don’t need to be the highest priced shop in town anymore. We need to be the place where customers get the most out of any product.”
The carpeted shop makes room for two dressing rooms, four-way stands, t-stands, two large custom rounders for men’s wear and a glass cube stacking system for hats, sweaters and sweatshirts. The oversized rounders are a favorite base for displays because the top surface is five feet off the ground. They serve as the middle ground for Moore’s “theory of elevations.” In the front of the shop are knee-high displays, in the center are the rounders and 10 feet up is a platform shelf which runs around the shop’s perimeter.
The Outlook also makes a case for impeccable service, and that’s what the Gainey girls are all about. While visitors to Gainey Ranch feel surrounded by pretty faces on the course and in the restaurant, there are up to a dozen circulating around The Outlook. Moore is assisted by a retail manager, three saleswomen, a hardgoods buyer and a separate staff of golf professionals and “clerks,” two of whom are women and all of whom are encouraged to work the sales floor. Moore finds her staff through word of mouth, but notes that most sought out The Outlook, which is known throughout the industry as a “good training ground.” Moore likes to take as many people on her staff as possible to the trade shows. “We believe in increasing responsibility and promoting from within the company.”
Each armed with her own client books, the team of sales associates are in touch with the shop’s clientele and have phone numbers and addresses at their fingertips. The shop’s client base is notified when merchandise comes in and promotions begin to help stimulate repeat visits to the shop. To make customers happy, Moore will go so far as to call another shop to get something a customer wants that The Outlook doesn’t have in stock, arguing that “it’s better to share the business than lose it altogether. If they feel they got good service and they like our environment, then they’ll come back.”
We try to make our shop as warm as possible,” Moore continues, noting the shop’s complimentary gift wrap service, cider service on holidays and occasional wine tasting from the Gainey Vineyards on Friday afternoons. One Valentine’s Day promotion involved a chance at balloon-popping for every $100 spent by a customer. Inside the balloon was a prize — free golf lessons, a bottle of Gainey Ranch wine, a day at the Hyatt spa, a free meal at the golf club or a merchandise voucher from the shop. Then there is the “Gainey Gram,” which is a friendly note clipped on with the scorecard or tucked into players’ golf bags informing customers of goings-on at the shop.
Clever promotions aside, “the warmth really comes from sales training,” Moore summarizes. Training includes everything from to greet customers and how to make them feel like they are relaxing in their own living room, to display design and generating multiple sales. “We run like a retail store,” adds Moore, which means weekly sales meetings, motivational techniques to get the employees and customers excited about the merchandise, and some light-hearted competition amongst employees for reaching sales goals.
Learning display merchandising is the fun part of training, according to Moore, and what the Gainey girls look forward to most. “I like to see the shop look beefy with a lot of product displayed,” she says, trying to keep the small stock room as empty as possible, “because it’s exciting and it gets customers ready to purchase.” To beginners the task seems daunting, but Moore says the process is self-validating. She watches her employees evolve and mature professionally through their display work and under the guidance of visual director LeAnne Givigliano.
“The girls are so much more creative than me,” Moore compliments. “My job is to get the goods here, and their job is to make it look great.” Displays are changed weekly, and Moore’s only rule is to treat the merchandise with respect, that is, “if it’s a $200 sweater, then make it look like that in the display.” The Gainey girls have no problem with that, even in the tight 1,200 square foot selling space, and often they name their displays for the unusual props they employ: dried pasta, beach towels, wine bottles, and even a golf cart which was driven onto the selling floor and merchandised with “stuffed” golfers and ample accoutrements.
The Outlook is always on the lookout for new ideas, merchandise and customers. All of their efforts lead to one goal, and that is to hear customers say, “Gosh, I got so many compliments on that outfit.” According to Moore, “We want to be known as the place to buy really nice golfwear and sportswear.” And lucky for trade show people watchers, the Gainey girls will continue to be showstoppers — in more ways than one — to make sure it stays that way.