Fitness, Marketing

How to start a sporting goods store as a new entrepreneur

To start a sporting goods store, you’ll need to set up the groundwork for it and market it far and wide. We’ve put together this handy guide to show you how.

Want to start a sporting goods store? There’s a lot to be done, which can be daunting—especially if this is your first shot at entrepreneurship.

We’ve put together this guide to share the key steps for setting the groundwork for your sporting goods store. And because your store isn’t going to market itself, we’ve also thrown in some tried-and-tested tactics for promoting it. Let’s dive in!

Setting the groundwork for your sporting goods store

1. Write up a business plan

With starting a sporting goods store being a massive endeavor, don’t keep all your plans in your head! That’s a surefire way of forgetting things and hurting your store launch.

The smarter move is to write up a business plan that you can reference as you start a sporting goods store. Common things discussed in a business plan include:

  • What you will sell
  • Your target market
  • Your pricing strategies
  • A SWOT analysis: the potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your store

Be as specific with your sporting goods store business plan as you can. For example, if you’ll be specializing in fitness clothing, then prepare a business plan for fitness clothing sales.

Make plans to tackle consumer challenges posed by rising inflation, too. This is a major concern for the sporting goods industry, according to global management consulting firm McKinsey.

2. Hire employees

Are you going to run your sporting goods store by yourself? Probably not, as there are just too many operations for one person to manage on their own.

Start scouting for trustworthy, reliable employees who can staff various roles in your sporting goods store. For example, you may need to hire store managers, cashiers, sales representatives, and digital marketers, among other personnel.

And once you’ve decided on the roles you need employees for, post job ads. Your job ads should include information such as:

  • Key responsibilities
  • Required educational qualifications or relevant work experience

Such information helps potential applicants understand what will be expected of them.

For inspiration, check out this job ad posted by Al’s Sporting Goods for a Visual Merchandising Manager:

3. Look for a store location

Unless you plan on running your sporting goods store completely online, you’ll need to find a physical space for displaying your products. And if you have big goals, you may dream of running multiple store branches in different countries, like Cabela’s:

But for now, settle on your very first store location! Look for a place that is:

  • Located near your target audience
  • Convenient for customers to go to
  • Large enough for showcasing your items

Also, consider the store rent you’ll have to pay every month.

Rent is a significant fixed cost and some stores are forced to close as they can no longer afford it. Do your calculations to check that your rent won’t eat up too much of your revenue.

4. Launch an online store

Online shopping has become the norm, with customers being used to ordering items online and having them shipped directly to their homes. Businesses that have online stores can also get customers from all over the world!

What this means is that sporting goods stores that don’t have an online store are potentially losing out on a lot of sales. There are many sporting goods stores online that you can study as you launch your own, but here is Lillywhites’ to get you started:

E-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce make it easy to start a sporting goods store online even if you aren’t a techie. They’ll also ensure that your store is mobile-friendly to cater to customers who shop from their phones!

Marketing your sporting goods store

5. Design store posters

With the groundwork of your sporting goods store in place, you can turn your attention to marketing it. And designing store posters is one of our favorite marketing tactics.

That’s because you can use your posters in many ways once you’ve created them. Print them out for display in your store, post them online, or hand them out as flyers—you have plenty of options.

Here, we have a store poster by AllSportStore that’s been posted to its Instagram account:

While you could hire a professional designer to design posters for you, PosterMyWall is a more affordable alternative. We have templates for baseball posters, football posters, and more, and you can customize them in our easy-to-use design editor.

Try out out these sports templates:

6. Create promotional videos

Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating posters, try your hand at creating an online marketing video. Videos take more effort to produce, but they can be more attention-grabbing and engaging than static images.

We like this video by Paragon Sports:

The video is a simple photo slideshow of various sandal models, and holds your interest as you watch to see which pair of sandals appears next.

To create your promo video, you’ll first need to gather your video clips. (You can use your mobile phone to film them yourself, or obtain stock footage.)

After that, use a video editor platform like PosterMyWall to add your videos to a video template. Add text, sounds, and images, then export your video creation when you’re happy with it!

7. Publish Instagram Stories

As you’re creating social media content to market your store, don’t neglect the Instagram Stories feature.

Images and videos posted to Stories last for only 24 hours, making them useful for featuring more informal or temporary content. Among other ideas, you can:

  • Give followers a behind-the-scenes look at your store operations
  • Promote limited-time offers
  • Conduct polls to interact with your followers

(Learn more about incorporating Instagram Stories into your marketing plan here.)

You can also post multiple Instagram Stories about a certain campaign. For instance, DICK’S Sporting Goods has published a series of Instagram Stories dedicated to running:

If you’re itching to create your own Instagram Stories, PosterMyWall has a large collection of Instagram Story templates you can use!

8. Hold a giveaway

People love free stuff—and you can take advantage of this to promote your store. To do so, hold a giveaway where people have to follow you on social media and/or tag their friends to take part. 

This tactic works because:

  • You grow the number of social media followers to whom you can promote your store.
  • People tag their friends to make them aware of your store. Then, if these friends want to participate in your giveaway, they’ll have to follow you too—helping you gain even more followers!

Just take it from Wrigleyville Sports, which held a giveaway to celebrate being in business for 30 years(!):

On your marks, get set…launch!

If you’ve done all of the above and are ready to open your store, your next goal is to make your store launch a success! Check out our article on strategies for promoting your business’ grand opening as you count down to your store’s launch date. You can also visit the Gradient blog for more tips and tricks on creating marketing collateral while you start a sporting goods store.