It’s been a busy spring for Chris Cote, owner of the Chris Cote Golf Shop on Main Street in Portland, Ct.
His operation continues to expand, with Cote now overseeing an e-Bay store that handles pre-owned merchandise next to his main outlet on Main Street in Portland, and supplying two green grass shops, one at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron and the other at Tower Ridge Country Club in Simsbury.
Said the former scholastic All-Stater from Rhode Island and member of the Central Connecticut State University golf team, “We’re very busy and looking forward to another great season. Our club fitting schedule is busy and we’re really excited about the shops at Blackledge and Tower Ridge in addition to our e-Bay store, where we also now have a golf club repair shop.
“We do a ton of re-gripping business,” said Cote, who opened his retail operation in 2008 after a highly successful foray into selling equipment on e-Bay. His main retail operation features new merchandise from all the major manufacturers, and specializes in clubs, golf balls, grips and shafts, with shoes, apparel and other accessories on the shelves and racks.
Scott Sturgeon has joined the staff as a fulltime sales person at the main store in Portland after a long career in the golf equipment business, while Dean Faucher is back as a PGA professional and store manager at the Portland outlet.
One of the major components of Cote’s business is a state-of-the-art fitting center, complete with a launch monitor, simulator and Mizuno shaft optimizer that enable Sturgeon and Faucher to custom fit customers.
Cote said the Tower Ridge operation includes a club fitting studio, which he plans on opening in the middle of April. There also plans are for multiple demo days to be held at the location featuring the major manufacturers. The shop at Blackledge features the newest in equipment and apparel and other golf items from manufacturers.
Cote’s operation was named one of the top 100 club fitting centers in the country by Mizuno Golf, and has been designated as one of the few stores in the state to carry Oban graphite shafts, high-end shafts designed for discerning players, said Cote.
“We are authorized by every major manufacturer and OEM and we offer free club fitting,” said Cote, who has enjoyed a long and successful career in golf retailing. 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 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. 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 goes to great lengths to make his store a golfer-friendly environment.
“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 added, “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.”
Cote hopes to open a flagship store in the Hartford area in the future and is considering partnering with other golf courses to supply their pro shops.
“We’re thinking of having a store that will serve as a signature store in the Hartford area and have between 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of floor space.” The Portland store is around 900 square feet in size.
Cote welcomes trade-ins and has a section of his store dedicated to top shelf junior and women’s clubs.
“We call ourselves Connecticut’s friendliest golf shop and we live up to that claim.”