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Pickleball Mania Hits Target Stores. What’s Next?

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 05-15-2024

So, I went to my local Target department store, and just beyond the entrance was a giant pickleball display. 

You couldn’t miss it.

It’s in the part of the store where you expect to find something like adult-sized plush stuffed bears and enormous plastic jugs of cheese puffs. But now there is a walk-in display nook of pickleball apparel, gear and accessories from Prince, the Georgia-based sporting goods manufacturer.

The “Prince for Target Pickleball Collection” serves as another reminder of the game’s growing visibility and popularity in pop culture.

Hooray for that. 

But If Target’s version of pickleball is all you know about it, you might get a skewed idea of the sport. 

You might assume that it’s a very stylish game played by people wearing fanny packs and sporting matching sweatbands and water bottles, people using $40 fashion-forward “pro” paddles and wearing color-coordinated outfits while hitting red, blue and purple plastic balls.

And who knows? Maybe that’s what will happen once big retailers such as Target start influencing the market. 

It made us here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket imagine what new directions pickleball might take if Target’s foray into promoting the sport pays off and draws in legions of newbies who further invigorate the game.

Will other retailers jump in to make their own contributions to pickleball mania?

If so, we here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket have some ideas and suggestions on how that could go. 

***

The Costco Pickleball Collection 

The marketing strategy here should be Costco’s signature buying in bulk. Paddles should be bundled in six-packs, and balls sold in 100, 200 and 300-unit containers. Maybe by the pallet.

The Costco pickleball aisle should also include a food-sampling station, where shoppers can eat chopped pickles and pickled-flavored chips handed out in paper cups by women in hair nets.   

***

The Walgreen’s Pickleball Collection 

The national drugstore chain ought to find pickleball as a natural sport to promote. With so many older, out-of-shape people stepping on the court to give the game a try, it’s a perfect fit for a partnership with the drugstore chain.

The Walgreen’s pickleball display in the stores should include sales of some basic pickleball equipment arranged tastefully alongside knee braces, sciatic-nerve pain ointments, leg-cramp tablets, and gel shoulder supports.

There could even be a “pickleball player express lane” in the pharmacy department. 

***

The Sur La Table “Get in the Kitchen” Pickleball Collection

Sur La Table, the retailer known for its kitchen accessories, would be an interesting marketing partner with pickleball, a game known for “staying out of the kitchen.”

Displays of cookware and pickleball gear could be part of a display that features the floor painted like a pickleball kitchen area. Shoppers standing outside the kitchen line would lean in to buy the store’s traditional offerings along with pickleball-themed aprons, cook books and juicers. 

***

The Home Depot DIY Pickleball Court Promotion

With public courts in high demand, it makes sense for some avid players to build their own courts at home. The Home Depot, which already holds classes on a variety of do-it-yourself projects around the home, can help.

In a series of six Saturday classes, pickleball players can learn the rudiments of land clearing, site excavation and court construction that will be needed to build their own pickleball courts in their backyards.

(Disclaimer: These classes will assume no liability in the event a municipality shuts down your project due to a lack of permits, or a neighbor sues you for making too much noise with your pickleball games.) 

***

Starbucks ‘n Pickle

Why should pickleball be associated only with fried-chicken sandwich restaurants? 

In this pairing of the nation’s most iconic coffee shop and fastest growing sport, selected Starbucks stores would be redesigned to remove all those tables used by people who sit there all day gazing at their laptops while only ordering one small coffee.

In its place, an indoor pickleball court would be made. If there’s not enough space for a regulation-sized court inside the coffee shop, smaller-sized courts will be used. The smaller courts would be called “grande” courts.

Players who want to play will give their first names to baristas, who will then write down some unrecognizable variation of their names. While waiting for their court to be called, players can enjoy special pickleball-themed drinks, such as pumpkin slice dinkaccinos. 

MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS’ BRACKET

Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, including:

Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank’s newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!

I Dink, Therefore I Am | Frank Cerabino

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