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Buzzworthy Businesses - Game-Set-Match, Inc. Notches Another Win

02/01/2017
9:19 AM
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A Centennial store that specializes in equipping tennis players with the best gear for their game is proving that brick-and-mortar businesses can not only survive but thrive with the right formula.

Game-Set-Match, Inc. was recently named the national Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year by the Tennis Industry Association. The accolade is made even more special when you consider that tennis is a seasonal sport in Colorado, whereas it presents as a year-round sport in states with warmer climates.

Game-Set-Match, Inc., which has two locations including its Centennial store on the northeast corner of County Line Road and Quebec Street, got its start in 1989, before Pete Sampras had even earned his first major title.

Owner Adam Burbary was running a successful tennis instruction business when he decided to make the logical jump into retail sales. After occupying a 250-square-foot office in Centennial Rampart Business Center, he graduated to larger spaces before landing at the store on County Line Road. His job as a tennis instructor provided a sizable base of clients, and it was also where he met a 7-year-old student named Rachel Heise, who would later become his general manager at Game-Set-Match, Inc.

Heise has made a name for herself in the industry as a go-to expert in racquet sports equipment, and was featured in the summer 2016 issue of Colorado Tennis magazine as someone who is making an impact on the game.

Burbary got a late start in the tennis world, picking up the game in college and quickly excelling through the ranks. But he is perhaps best known as one of the “young guys” among the owners of independent racquet sports shops. He built the business from the ground up without so much as a business loan. These days, he’s receiving invitations from apparel giants like Adidas to check out the latest developments in equipment at its world headquarters in Germany, before setting off to a box suite to take in the French Open.

He’s clearly doing something right. Multiple vendors nominated him for national Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year. As far as he knows, Burbary is the longest surviving of the independent tennis retailers in Colorado. Many don’t last more than 10 years. So what’s the secret? It’s partly keeping up with trends — Game-Set-Match, Inc. carries equipment for racquetball, squash and pickleball — and maintaining relationships with his client base, which includes former students who are now bringing in their own tennis-playing kids.

But Burbary falls back on the principles of every successful enterprise: selection and great customer service.

“The brick-and-mortars are either getting bigger or they’re kind of going away,” he says. “I think of us as the movie theaters of tennis, meaning people still want to go to the movie, they want to touch and feel and have that instant gratification. We really enjoy the customers who do like that.” 

It’s also sponsoring tournaments for kids and adults. It’s re-stringing a racquet while the customer waits. It’s donating equipment to schools that otherwise can’t afford it. It’s knowing that Colorado’s higher altitude can dictate what racquet is best for each individual player. It’s employing the right people who can provide recommendations.

“We’ve had a lot of people who have worked for us for 10-plus years and I think that speaks to what the organization does right. You don’t get that a lot of places,” Heise said.

The combination of assets is the likely reason for the longevity of the Centennial store, as well as the success of Game-Set-Match, Inc.'s stores in Denver and Louisville.

“We’ve always grown every single year,” Burbary says, before knocking on a wooden desk for good luck.

Read about IMMUNOe Health Centers, another Buzzworthy Business in Centennial.

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