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Sheen Sports

 

Running a successful sports shop requires fast reflexes and quick footwork

 

This was the lesson swiftly learned by Nick Giffen when he opened Sheen Sports in the Upper Richmond Road in 2008.

“I learned more in the first six months of running my own business than in the three years I spent at university doing a marketing degree. It was a massive learning curve,” he joked. “Kids today want the trainers or boots and shirts worn by the stars they see on television. Even those of five and six want, for example, the boots worn by Ronaldo. Others ask for the shirt worn by tennis champion Nadal in the French Open.”

“They are very specific so we have to make sure we know who is wearing what and try and make sure we have it in stock.  A lot of our sales today are media-driven and we have to keep up with this.”

As a result the most eye-catching display in their shop is a floor-to-ceiling wall of trainers, boots, and running shoes. There are 280 different models, some in amazing luminescent colours, ranging in price from £25 to £145 a pair, and together they amount to an almost irresistible temptation to anyone who loves sports shoes.

“Service is the key for us,” added Nick.  “We spend time training our staff and try and go that extra mile. Retail is not easy. We are not a big chain store so if you come here and spend £100 on a pair of trainers I want you to walk out feeling comfortable and confident that you have the right shoes.”

With this attitude it’s no surprise that Nick and his staff have built up a loyal customer base, many of them local people who Nick, who grew up in the area and attended East Sheen Primary, knows well.

It’s also attracted a fair sprinkling of local celebrities like former rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio, who buys sports kit for his children, actor Tom Hardy, star of films like The Dark Knight Rises and Inception, and former TV newsreader Trevor McDonald, who is a keen tennis player.

The shop stocks plenty of sports clothes which change with the seasons, currently cricket and tennis gear are prominent. But tucked away amid the various displays are many other sporting items, including referees whistles and ping-pong balls. As well as a large range of tennis rackets, the shop offers a complete re-stringing service for tennis, badminton, and squash, for anyone whose favourite racket has broken a string.

The shop stocks plenty of sports clothes which change with the seasons, currently cricket and tennis gear are prominent. But tucked away amid the various displays are many other sporting items, including referees whistles and ping-pong balls. As well as a large range of tennis rackets, the shop offers a complete re-stringing service for tennis, badminton, and squash, for anyone whose favourite racket has broken a string.

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There’s also free gait analysis to help customers select the right shoes. “This is very important if, for example, you are buying running shoes which tend to be quite expensive, or the most expensive football boots.” At this top end of the market he stocks a few football boots which cost an eye-watering £200 a pair. “They are so expensive because they come with a tiny computer device which records data like how far you have run, your top and average speeds, and so on,” he explains. “This data can be downloaded later so you can keep a record of your fitness and even compare yourself to the stats of the stars!”

Like its owner, staff, and stock, Sheen Sports is really on track. So it’s no surprise that Nick has built on his success and opened another sports shop in Richmond run by his younger brother Chris.

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Words by Mark Dowdney – Pictures by Bob Lisney – Project Coordinator Richard Osbourne