Chris Cote’s Golf Shop in Portland, Ct.
Chris Cote's Golf Shop is indeed a Golfing Magazine “Hot Spot!” Your first impression when you enter Cote’s shop is, Wow! I can’t believe how many products can fit in this small a space space. And your next thought is how do they keep it so tidy?
This unique shop features a complete full service club repair center as well as a custom fitting area to test clubs. You’ll even find an indoor putting green to try the more than 500 putters!
“We’re a one-stop shop for everything from clubs to accessories to lessons,” says owner Chris Cote.
When I came to visit Chris for this article, I found him in his shop early on a spring morning, stripping off grips and replacing them with new ones. A refreshing change from the faceless “big box” feel associated with many of today’s off-course stores.
It’s the beginning of a busy day for the former scholastic All-Stater from Rhode Island and member of the Central Connecticut State University golf team. It’s a new season and the Chris Cote Golf Shop on Main Street in Portland, Ct. has been packed the past several weeks.
“We do a ton of re-gripping business,” says Cote, who opened his retail operation in 2008 after a highly successful foray into selling equipment on e-Bay. He plans on opening another shop just down the street that will handle pre-owned merchandise.
“We invite our customers to trade in their used golf clubs for cash or credit towards a golf club purchase. We know that every golfer has at least a few golf clubs that are collecting dust so why not get some cash for them? Trading in your old golf clubs is a great way to get that brand new set of clubs at a huge discount.”
His present retail operation features new merchandise from all the major manufacturers, and specializes in clubs, golf balls, grips and shafts with a smattering of shoes, apparel and other accessories dotting the tidy shelves and racks. As well as a section of his store dedicated to top shelf junior and women’s clubs.
A major component of Cote’s business is a state-of-the-art fitting center, complete with a P3 Simulator, Zelocity Launch Monitor and the all new Shaft Optimizer technology from Mizuno that enable him and PGA professional Dean Faucher to custom fit customers.
“The custom fitting has been huge in the last few years,” says Cote. “We are authorized TaylorMade, Mizuno and Ping fitters and we offer free club fitting.”
Cote’s experience as an accomplished player as well as his vast experience in the golf retail business has enabled him to build a true “golf junkies” paradise. He worked for Nevada Bob’s in Rhode Island and both Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golfer’s Warehouse in Connecticut before concentrating on e-Bay golf sales fulltime in 2002. During the early 1990’s he gave operating his own business a first shot when he opened C.J.’s Golf in New Britain.
“It lasted about a year but we didn’t have the capital to keep it going,” he says. “But it was a valuable learning experience and I made a lot of contacts that I would use later on.”
His e-Bay business did so well it provided him with the funds to open his present retail outlet.
“The e-Bay really took off. It got to the point where I had so much equipment and other items that I just had to move out of the house. We’re still doing fantastic business on e-Bay, selling used, demos and last year’s models all over the world.”
Cote has also ventured into partnerships with two golf clubs to run their pro shops, Portland Country Club just down the road from his Main Street store and Tower Ridge Country Club in Simsbury. “This benefits the club because they have access to so much more inventory and they don’t have to staff the shop.”
Cote goes to great lengths to make his store a golfer-friendly environment and it shows!
“We love when people walk in to chat or see what we have. I like to think of our customers as friends and not just in terms of dollars and cents.”
He adds, “I’m surprised at how well we have done. It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears for a few years, but we are continuing to expand and there are plans for even more expansion in the future… but not at the expense of loosing the personal touch!”
Chris Cote’s Golf Shop