Sporting Goods DMer Targets Schools, City Parks

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Sport Supply Group, Dallas, has entered the playground equipment market with the release of its JungleBug Play*Works catalog last month.


The direct marketer of sporting goods and equipment to the institutional and youth sports marketplaces has shipped 300,000 copies of its new catalog to institutions around the country including schools and state and city park organizations. It sent catalogs to people from its inhouse file as well as new names from lists it purchased from brokers. New respondents will be added to its current database, said the company, and follow-up mailings are currently being planned.


According to Lee Ann Woods, director of development at Sport Supply Group, the goal of the catalog is to help provide clients with custom designed park equipment.


"We want the catalog to act as a stimulant to get people thinking about what exactly it is that they want," she said.


The catalog will offer seven stock units that customers can order without getting customized. Customers can order jungle gym equipment and all the components including slides, swings, activity panels, tic-tac-toe boards and bike racks. The company also offers services such as providing the surfacing around the equipment, insulation and landscaping.


Woods said orders for some of the stock units and customized models have already been coming in.


"We are seeing some good activity very early on," she said.


Another drop of the catalog is scheduled to take place in late July or early August. The size of that mailing has yet to be determined but the company expects it to be at least three-quarters of the amount of the first mailing if not the same exact size.


According to Woods, the Sports Supply Group decided to enter the playground equipment market because of the increase in support for public parks, the increase in funding for child and daycare programs and the growth of different channels and opportunities to conduct sales.


"It is a market that plays off of the same factors that are driving our early childhood development business such as rapid growth in daycare and youth sports, and a general trend toward more and safer civic playground facilities," said John Walker, president and chief operating officer of Sport Supply Group. "It is hard to forecast the initial financial impact of JungleBug sales, but the size of each order with this product line will be much higher than our current average order size."


The company ships nearly 1.3 million catalogs each year to schools and colleges around the country. It has two main catalogs, BSN Sports and US Games, which it produces two versions of. Within those, it has a number of specialty catalogs that are specifically targeted for certain programs and coaches such as track and field or football.


Woods said Sport Supply Group also plans on moving more toward the consumer side of the market with the launch of its Web site (www.esportsonline.com) at the end of March. It will offer both its inventory of sporting goods and supplies as well a number of products from the JungleBug catalog.


It currently offers more than 8,000 products including baseballs, footballs and softballs, football sleds, weight training equipment and recreational gaming equipment.
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