Owner’s Manual: Nicki Baker of Nebraska Cheer Center
Name: Nicki Baker, Founder and Co-Owner
Gym: Nebraska Cheer Center
Location: Lincoln, NE
Size: 11 teams, 225 all-star athletes and 400 athletes total
Gym size: 11,000 square feet
The Debrief: One year ago, Nebraska Cheer Center relocated to a brand-new facility, and co-owners Dusty and Nicki Baker decided to incorporated a pro shop within the space. Says Nicki, “Having the space to do it really motivated us to open the shop and get things started.”
The Dish: Keeping the shop stocked is a lot of work—making sure it is filled with the right merchandise and keeping new merchandise coming in. For merchandise, we use several vendors, and we also stay active in various groups and organizations [that help us find new vendors to use]. We also just watch what the kids are wearing and try to follow the trends.
I have an office assistant who helps to run the shop, and we run sales and specials at Christmas, Valentine’s Day and other holidays. For example, during Christmas, if you spend a certain amount, you get a discount, and the more you spend, the higher the discount will be. I also have an in-house graphic designer who makes cute little ads that we can send out through email and Facebook when we’re doing our advertising.
For marketing, we use social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to let people know about new items. Facebook hits your adult market so they know what’s new at the gym for the kids. If you share it on Instagram, the kids are on there so they see it, and Twitter hits a little bit older group of kids. We share photos of new things right as the kids are getting out of school so it hits [our target] market right away.
[As far as stocking,] we have learned that bringing in just 40 of an item when you have 225 athletes makes it just fly off the shelves. We also recently bought our own heat press so that we can make some things in-house too. We do not have an online store, but we have thought about it. Everything is going out as fast as it is coming in, so we haven’t gotten to the point where we have enough stock to start an online store yet.
To date, I would say that about 15 to 20 percent of the gym’s income comes from sales at the pro shop. My husband and business partner would like us to get [that figure] to about 25 percent in the future. I would also like to bring in some new vendors and more athletic wear and practice gear in the future. We were approved to be an Infinity sponsor this year, so we get to carry Infinity shoes, backpacks, scarves and things like that in the pro shop—the athletes love that. And then Infinity gives your gym a little kickback, so it’s nice.
As for the physical space, we did a lot of research to figure out the best possible way to design the pro shop before we built it. We realized that when you go to Disneyland you have to walk through the shop to get to the rides, and our pro shop is the same idea as that concept. The shop is right as you walk in through the doors to the gym, so, like Disneyland, you have to walk through the pro shop to see the ride.