The executive team from Golf Galaxy, known for its hands-on and educational retail format, has stepped back into retail -- this time with a consulting agency called RetailMinds.
RetailMinds, based in Minneapolis, will emphasize taking an A-to-Z, under-the-hood peak at specialty retailers to buff into shape any specific areas or the whole business.
"We're branding ourselves as the 'anti-consultant,'" Ron Hornbaker, who will head sales and store operations areas. "We don't want to be considered consultants. We want to be immersed in the projects we do."
As a team of specialists, just-launched RetailMinds (www.retailminds.com) has rejoined Golf Galaxy co-founders Randy Zanatta and Greg Maanum; Dana Busch, who specializes in merchandising and e-commerce areas; and Hornbaker. The company was formed in mid-2008 by Zanatta and Maanum after they left Golf Galaxy when Dick's Sporting Goods, its owner since 2006, closed Golf Galaxy's headquarters, which had been maintained separately. The new venture wasn't complete until Hornbacker and Busch left Golf Galaxy in January.
With a combination of talents that cover merchandising, etail, financial management, marketing, operations, sales and merchandising, the team will be able to look at all things, including employee training, purchasing and vendor relationships, marketing and overhauling the look of a store.
"We'll leave it stronger than when we come in," Hornbaker said, adding that the goal would be to help retailers save money and do better business while increasing profits.
With their own background in building Golf Galaxy's emphasis on enthusiasts, the team members want to take its Galaxy motto, "Everything for the Game," to other enthusiast retailers. The concept at Golf Galaxy was initially that people who were golfers but without access to clubs and pro shops needed some of the same education, fitting, training and expertise but had no place to go for it. The stores were like "a pro shop for the public golfer," Hornbaker said, and they were very interactive stores with events, workshops, simulators and putting greens. He said customers spent at least an hour in the store and many spent several hours.
"There were people who would come into the store just to talk golf," he said, making it a place to find community, hang out with peers, and swap stories and tips.
The company's first client, however, is far from the world of sports and fitness -- Archiver's (www.archiversonline.com), a "photo memory store," per its website -- but the entire team has its heart in active endeavors.
From archiving photos to sports or fitness, members of the RetailMinds team said they believe retailers are for the most part missing out on some of the key elements in establishing better connections with their customers.
Specialty retail "gets caught up with the lowest price and forgets people will pay a premium for service," he said, citing what Maanum used to tell his Golf Galaxy team, "We want to maximize relationships, not transactions."
SNEWS® View: RetailMinds has pulled together a wealth of knowledge about specialty retail and customer relationships in one small team. The only loser in this could be Dick's.