General Manager Jeffrey Ibatuan (left) with (business and doubles) partner Eugene Shin
33-YEAR TENNIS RETAIL VETERAN OPENS NEW TENNIS SHOP
by Rich Neher
Pop! It was a sunny day in Southern California at the beginning of March when I saw something pop up on Facebook. A new tennis retail store opened up right in my backyard? No way. But, yes! It was true. Right in Burbank, the TV capital of the world, on Magnolia and Buena Vista. Sweet Spot Tennis writes on their Facebook page, "We are a Tennis Specialty Retail Store located in the beautiful city of Burbank, CA. We offer a wide variety of rackets, shoes, and accessories. We also perform while-you-wait racket stringing and customizations. If you need gear, hit the Sweet Spot!" Wow. I was intrigued and because the store was only 4 miles from my office I decided to pay them a visit. I met with Co-Founder Jeffrey Ibatuan.
I was trying to interview Sergio Ortiz, the pr
I predict Padel will lurk at some obscure tennis clubs in Texas for a while
Sweet Spot Tennis is a pretty big store. But, hey, the greater Burbank/Studio City/Toluca Lake/Sherman Oaks area is a pretty big tennis community. USTA Leagues, Los Angeles Tennis leagues, WorldTeam Tennis, and others are keeping local players in the game.
Jeffrey Ibatuan is not exactly a newcomer in the tennis retail space. His resume speaks volumes: 13 years Super Sports, 20 years Racket Doctor, both in General Manager positions. Seems like it was time for Jeff to start his own business.
Sweet Spot Tennis has a good selection
of bags and shoes
Jeff with league player customer who returned a demo racquet.
Jeff Ibatuan and his 5.0 doubles partner Eugene Shin decided to open a tennis store with Jeff running it day-to-day. They looked at about a dozen properties in Burbank before deciding on 2529 W. Magnolia Blvd because of its centralized location. Jeff's industry connections came in handy after spending 33 years in tennis retail.
Jeff started playing tennis at age 13. He played high school tennis and subsequently became a stringer for tour players. He says, "We are old school and passionate about tennis. We love meeting people face-to-face and advice them on their purchases."
Jeff Ibatuan with store employee Juliette Darbinyan
Sweet Spot Tennis has three stringing machines and Jeff made it a point saying that they offered "stringing while you wait" services. It's all part of his philosophy of great customer service that makes tennis players remember him and keep coming back.
Part of his philosophy, no doubt formed during 3 decades of working in tennis retail, is treating balls as loss leaders. "We trade a small loss or a tiny profit for getting customers in the store to stimulate sales of more profitable products." He and his partner made the decision to price every can of balls at $2.99 regardless of the wholesale price they purchased them for. "We want people to come into our store and see what else we're offering." So, even Penn Marathons or Tecnifibre balls go for $2.99 at Sweet Spot Tennis.
Personally, I think it's a good sign that there is an investment in tennis retail in our area right now. Those two guys are smart, they have their "eyes on the ball" and see the popularity of tennis growing since last year. Good for them. Word will spread fast to get them real busy in no time. I wish them all the best!
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