Thursday, November 1, 2007

The "Personal" HouseBall

In a seminar last year, a Brunswick representative shared that pro shops sell almost 85% of bowling balls in the US. 5% right here in Chicago. The good news, mass merchants are selling fewer, less expensive balls, while the BAD NEWS, the Internet is selling more, expensive balls. Market shares have for each, for all practical purposes, all but switched.

While, over the years, retail businesses like Sears, JC Penny, and Kmart sold hundreds of thousands of bowling balls each year and league bowling decreased. (Sears and JC Penny's DON"T sell bowling balls. One reason I shop at these stores.)

Brunswick’s last contract with Kmart, when the retail giant was selling bowling balls made in the US, was for about 400,000 balls a year. And new league bowlers were lost at a rate around 70%.

Is it likely that the dissatisfied bowlers did not like the house ball option? Or picked up an inexpensive new bowling ball at a mass merchant? But did NOT like the results?

Don't blame Brunswick, Kmart now sells pre-drilled balls manufactured in China. Essentially personal house balls! Have any of you ever thrown a house ball?

Nothing like selling something potentially hellaciously
bad, to unsuspecting customers, except when selling it as cheaply as possible to the massively inexperienced, and least knowledgeable, nets you Millions of dollars. While effecting the newest of the sport's participants, looking for an inexpensive way to be more involved, by providing inexpensive equipment built on a system of drilling holes that is probably more than 30 years old. Does your houseball hurt?

Does your Dick's Sporting Goods, KMart,
SportMart, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart* or other mass merchant's bowling balls allow you to bowl, without pain or fatigue, at a 160 average or more? 140? (*oh wait, Sam Walton's company decided not to do this. They researched how easy having balls drilled in their store would be -NOT.

Could they send the balls to local pro shops, tried it. Would some bowling stores offer an inexpensive package (as a trial of the concept) of balancing (not done at mass merchants including Wal-Mart), drilling, and engraving balls, YES. Did the customers find buying a ball and going somewhere else to get it professionally, custom drilled was convenient. Not so much. The added expense to get the ball drilled was unexpected. Finding bowling stores open to match the 9am to 9pm typical big box retail hours of operation. Not many open even seven days a week. Not convenient. Could they get a program to accommodate all their stores all over the WORLD. NO. Wal-Mart opted don't drill, don't carry balls, bad idea, unhappy customers don't come back and buy more).

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