***Pam Horwood has been the owner of Merchant of Tennis since 1992. The Merchant has two retail outlets, one in Toronto and the other one in Oakville. Her stores became the official retailer of the Rogers event four years ago. She recently signed a new four year agreement with Tennis Canada.
A long time supporter of community tennis and Toronto area coaches, Pam is married to former top Canadian player, Rob Horwood. Her first tennis coach was Casey Curtis [Milos Raonic’s early coach] who promised her she would be great. He was right again.***
ONcourt: Being the Official Retailer at the Rogers Cup (previously known as the Canadian Open), what does it mean to your business?
Pam Horwood: We are very excited to be the Official Retailer of The Rogers Cup. We are entering our fourth year in 2011 as the Official Retailer and Official Stringer at the Toronto event. Consumer awareness has increased substantially for The Merchant since our opening day at The Rogers Cup. The event draws over 100,000 tennis enthusiasts from across the country and beyond our borders every year. This type of exposure is difficult if not impossible to get in a targeted market group without an event of this magnitude. With almost our entire retail offering available at www.merchantoftennis.com we feel we are able to serve these new clients long after they have left the tournament and the general vicinity of our retail stores.
ONcourt: In Toronto, do you think the sport of tennis is increasing in popularity?
PH: We usually judge participation by the enthusiasm we see in the spring season. With so little indoor tennis being available in the GTA the winter isn’t a reliable gauge for us. Over the past couple of years we have seen a broader cross section of people taking up tennis. The summer clubs in close proximity to our stores have full memberships. Recreational juniors are always a good gauge for us as well and in our areas we definitely see a surge in interest. The many tennis professionals that visit us at the stores have full programs in juniors and are very positive about adult enrollment.
ONcourt: What do you feel would help generate more revenue for retail outlets such as the Merchant of Tennis?
PH: In the summer months we have noticed an increase in traffic every year since we opened our doors. It is the winter in the GTA that is the issue. It is very difficult to increase the revenue stream when you cannot offer potential clients somewhere affordable to play. In the GTA if there were more access to affordable indoor tennis then there would be more consumers.
ONcourt: What are the comments you hear the most often from your customers?
PH: Most people that come into our stores are excited about tennis. It is their recreational time and they love to talk about it. Each client is so different. It could be about their league match, their child’s tournament, their last outfit, their shoes that wear out, the last match Nadal won, their last lesson, the club social and the list goes on. It is a fun place to work if you love tennis. Whatever is happening in tennis on that particular day or week, one of our customers will tell us about it.