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February 2007

Retailer showcase:

Reason’s for their success

  • They have a unique concept, with stock items that are not easily available, and therefore attract a specific niche market.

  • Their customers trust their knowledge and advice as they participate in the sports they cater for and understand their customers’ needs.

  • They attract customers by offering a pleasant shopping experience.
  • They build relationships through joining their customers in activities, by holding workshops and providing event screenings.

  • Femme Sportif: For women, by women

    Femme Sportif offers a unique shopping experience: a store aimed at women, specialising in the sporting codes most favoured by women. Partners Ellen Feibig and Tanya Knight explained their pioneering retail concept to TRUDI DU TOIT

    It is not only the bright pink colour scheme of Femme Sportif that makes them stand out from the other stores in the Tokai shopping centre: their store is unique in SA and in line with international retail concepts. It is aimed specifically at women – run by women.

    Tanya Knight, formerly an agent for Indola Sportswear, met Ellen Feibig, a tour guide, through cycling.

    They were both frustrated by the fact that most sport stores were not only very male dominated in their product offerings, but did not really understand the specific needs of women. A woman does not feel comfortable shopping for gymwear, for instance, in a store that mainly caters for men buying protective gear or team jerseys, where male shopping assistants can not really give knowledgeable advice to their female customers.

    "I also found that the stores lacked variety in equipment, clothing and footwear aimed at women," says Knight.

    They discussed their concerns with other women who said that most of them got their cycling and yoga clothes from overseas. Even though there are many local manufacturers who make women’s ranges, not many retailers stocked products for women.

    Women often had no option but to wear gear designed for men – it is not hard to imagine how uncomfortable it is to wear cycling shorts designed for men.

    And yet, there are more women than men in South Africa.

    They therefore took a stand at The Argus Expo, sold all the goods, and then followed up all the names of interested women collected at the show to tell them that there is now a store aimed specifically aimed at women.

    Their store in Tokai provides more of a visiting, than merely buying, experience. Customers are offered filter coffee and invited to sit on the comfortable chairs and watch events like the Tour de France on a big screen, when it is on, or to attend workshops. They even accompany groups of customers on cycling trips because "as women we know it is not always safe to cycle on your own."

    Having survived their first Cape winter when sporting activities slow down shortly after they opened, they are confident of future growth.

    From their side they help this along by exhibiting at most big Expo’s, by approaching clubs and offering incentives, by having an interactive website and by distributing flyers where possible, for instance at cycle races.

    Femme Sportif also has a women’s racing team, in partnership with New Balance.

    They mainly concentrate on running, cycling, swimming, yoga and fitness clothing, footwear and equipment, as these are the most popular activities among women.

    They have also received strong support from many local manufacturers and importers of sporting goods for women – many who provide them with clothing and equipment in their signature pink colours ... even pink bicycle pumps!

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    © SA Sports Trader