Sports Systems is one of the largest locally owned sporting goods stores in the state, and the only one in the Northeast Heights that carries an array of products from winter sports gear to electric bikes and apparel, runner gear and much more.
Owner Duane Kinsley said he has been in business at the Montgomery location for 37 years, and unlike many other retailers throughout the recession or pandemic, he was able to survive because of a nifty app Kinsley created that shows the value of all the add-ons people get when buying their gear at Sports Systems.
Kinsley said what keeps him in Albuquerque are all the great things everyone can do outdoors.
“We have four seasons and none of them or too severe, and I love this business, it’s a lot of fun, at least in the last four years,” Kinsley said.
Kinsley explained that it hasn’t always been great though and that the store has definitely had its ups and downs over the years. Back in the 90s he was having a hard time competing with catalog pricing and trying to match big box competitors, which was running him into the ground. He said trying to go into the internet age competing with places like amazon had been impossible, and why many retailers have been completely put out of business, and didn’t want to be added to that list, so he decided to do something about it.
“The internet is like catalogs on steroids, I mean everyone has a catalog in their pocket now and they can look at any product in the world.”
He said what is putting people out of business is something called ‘show-rooming,’ where people will come in and look at products and get fitted for their size, and then just go buy it online for a cheaper price.
“What was really frustrating is that people would say I like your store and expert advice, your staff and selection, and then go home and use the internet’s low prices. If I couldn’t match the price they would leave,” Kinsley explained.
He said four years ago he was thinking about closing and for him it would have been really sad to see the last ski and snowboard shop left in Albuquerque close, and it’s not like people can get fitted for their ski boots online, so with that in mind he decided he was going to attempt to think outside the box and beat the internet head on with service and value instead of pricing.
“We developed an app, because at first I was doing it on a notepad, but it would show you how I could save you money in the long run,” he said.
With the app people could see that with Sports Systems they have options with added value that makes it worth buying local, such as adding servicing of products, offering free day lift tickets and small accessories.
“Before the app we used to close maybe 60% of our sales, but now we’re closing close to 98% of our sales, so my sales have gone up over 250%. My margins are high and the customer wins saving at least a $50 to $500 value overall.”
The app shows people visually just how much value and services work in a breakdown of cost and has transformed his business.
“I haven’t given you anything I wasn’t already giving you before, I’m just showing you what it is worth when buying with us and getting these added services.”
Although he said the store has to stock up a year in advance because of the supply and demand issues they’ve faced since the pandemic that the store has been prospering ever since. Before the pandemic he had hoped to get the app out into the world for other retailers to use, but that it had halted his efforts until now.
“The app has gotten attention from all kinds of people from our governor, mayor, everybody, and everybody that’s seen is like ‘this is amazing!’ and the governor’s office said it was the best thing to come out of New Mexico when it was featured in her state address a couple of years ago.”
He said the most recent spike in sales have come from electric bikes because of the high interest for some people getting back into riding can make it easy, especially on the hills and inclines of Albuquerque.
“Over half our business now is electric bikes, for people getting back into the sport and even avid riders are getting electric bikes because they can ride twice as far, and we think there is going to be a big bike boom in the next few years.
Their ski, snowboard and boot rentals also provide a service that lets people try before they buy or be able to experience those winter sports without having to get all of the gear needed to go out.
Their winter gear from jackets to snow pants are all top-of-the-line products, and have a huge selection of skis and snowboards to choose, not to mention all that added value when shown through the app. The store also has their own line of New Mexico themed apparel with Zias and sporting the bright colors of the New Mexico flag.
So, for your outdoor sports needs, go check out Sports Systems and tell ‘em the Neighborhood Journal sent you.