There’s been a golf shop juggle going on lately on Manchester Road, with a local store moving down the street and a national giant moving in.
Golf Discount of St. Louis closed its Manchester location in October and moved its inventory to its remaining locations in St. Peters and Mehlville. Store manager Todd Bentrup said the property at 13986 Manchester Road was owned by the bank, and the bank needed to sell off its assets, which forced Golf Discount to close the location.
Bentrup said that though he lost his job when the store closed in the fall, he’s thankful that Golf Discount of St. Louis hired him back a few months ago to run the new Manchester location, now at 14377 Manchester Road.
In the meantime, Edwin Watts Golf, a retail giant in the golf industry with 95 locations nationwide, moved into Golf Discount's old building and made that location its first store in Missouri. Little renovation was needed to make the switch over, according to staff at Edwin Watts Golf.
Manchester’s Planning and Zoning and Economic Development Director Franz Kraintz said that any time new businesses move into the area it’s good for Manchester. New stores not only in bring jobs and sales tax revenue, but they can attract more shoppers who will hopefully stick around to spend money at other shops in the area.
Krainz also said that Manchester is making headway on filling up its vacant business properties. The newer Manchester Highlands shopping center only has a few unoccupied store fronts, but existing vacant buildings can be more difficult to address. He said the vacant Chili’s Grill and Bar Restaurant at 14445 Manchester Road will probably languish until its current lease runs out. Chili’s is still paying rent in order to avoid breaking the lease on the old building, which gives the property owner no incentive to find new tenants.
The new Edwin Watts Golf is similar to the old St. Louis Golf Discount it replaced, as both cater to golf enthusiasts.
The store only carries golf gear and clothes, so you’re not going to find tennis racks or baseball gloves. The staff are also knowledgeable golf players, and their service is courteous.
Tye Story, the assistant manager at Edwin Watts Golf, said the store has everything a golfer needs, from the latest equipment, club repair on site and an About Golf simulator to help staff find the perfect club to match your swing.
“Eight five percent of people aren’t fitted properly,” said Story. The simulator is a large room with a computer projected golf course on a fabric screen. The user swings a normal club—one he or she is looking to purchase—at a real ball. The computer analyzes the golfer’s swing, the speed of the head, the back spin on the ball and other details. All this data helps the golfer determine if the club will be a good fit before making a purchase.
Story said the simulator is free with the purchase of any golf club.
Edwin Watts carries equipment to fit any budget. The store has used equipment at a fraction of the original cost, such as a set of used Cobra irons for $200 or Mizuna irons for $270. New Cobra irons run from $400 to $700 dollars, while Mizuno irons go up to $900.
In addition to new and used golf equipment, the Manchester location serves as an “outlet” for the retailer, with a section of clearance and bargain priced equipment that Edwin Watts consolidates here.
Edwin Watts Golf has been in business for 42 years and is based out of Fort Walton Beach, FL. The store’s founder, Edwin Watts, started as a professional golfer who was asked to run a pro shop at a course in Fort Walton Beach back in 1963. The store’s website states, Watts wasn’t happy with just selling gloves and shirts and decided to sell quality clubs, which were difficult to find. The new shop was a success and now the chain boasts itself to be the “world’s largest individual golf retailer.”
On the Horizon:
Starting a Business: The First Steps is a course offered by the University of Missouri, St. Louis on June 17 on the St. Louis campus. The cost is $50.
Microsoft will release Office 365, a new subscription based online version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on June 28. This “cloud” version of its Office software is aimed at small businesses that don’t want to manage their own servers.
Online sales tax maybe coming soon. According to Bloomburg Businessweek, a proposal in the U.S. Senate plans to end the exemption enjoyed by retailers who do not have a brick-and-mortar store in the states collecting sales tax.