AGM Retail Conference brings buyers and vendors back together for unique educational experience

After a two-year hiatus, the annual Association of Golf Merchandisers (AGM) Retail Conference was held yet again on Jan. 25, a day filled with workshops, recognizing award winners and seeing the latest golf shop products on the market.

Hosted at the Orange County Convention Center, the conference was hosted for AGM members looking to enhance their professional development, and the association provided a wide-ranging schedule of speakers and subject-matter experts for attendees.

 

Six breakout sessions choices, an inclusive merchandising session and a keynote delivery from award-winning country artist Jimmy Wayne highlighted the educational portion. In the afternoon workshop from the PGA of America’s Sandy Cross titled, “Advancing Inclusive Merchandising,” attendees learned about the power of a golf shop that reflects every individual.

“Opportunities begin to blossom and relationships can be formed when your golf shop represents the perspectives of everyone who comes through it,” says Cross, the PGA’s Chief People Officer. “Invite a different point of view, and you might see a boost in your merchandising operation you never thought possible.”

In a twist of synchronicity, the conference’s Product Preview & Reception featured a wide-ranging variety of vendors bringing unique lines of apparel, distinctive accessories and custom drinkware, among other products.

One vendor, Spectrum Golf, was represented by the youngest representative by far in eager 10-year-old Carter Bonas, who was divvying out information on his colorful logoed hats and moisture-wicking shirts – complete with a hand-designed logo – and comfortable pants that carry inspiring messages along the beltline. From Coral Springs, Florida, Bonas has autism and dyslexia but was undeterred in launching his own apparel brand, brining determination and attention to detail as he showcased his products alongside mother, Thelma,

“I love golf, but I also want to be employed down the road,” says Carter. “Those two things came together and it’s what made me want to launch a clothing brand. I want everyone to be comfortable when they play golf. When you’re comfortable, you feel good and you play better, too.”

A few stations down from Bonas was the team from SwingJuice, a lifestyle apparel company with fun, soft T-shirt designs, golf shirts and more accessories. The trio at the table were happy to be back in-person.

“With apparel, it’s hard to sell things over the phone or Zoom,” says SwingJuice Account Executive Logan Bettencourt. “That’s why this Product Preview & Reception is so great – you can feel and see all the latest products. That makes a big difference for us as a company, because we can showcase our latest lines in-person. It’s a great opportunity.”

Alongside vendors like Spectrum Golf and SwingJuice were AGM members like John Mlynarski, the PGA Head Professional, and Mackenzy Perkins, Golf Operations Manager, for the Links at Perry Cabin in Maryland. Fresh off being awarded an AGM Platinum Award recipient alongside 99 other golf shops, the duo were on the hunt for unique items to bolster their merchandise offering.

“This is kind of like the trailer before the big movie tomorrow,” says Perkins. “It provides us with a lead-in to see a lot of the items that will be at the PGA Show all week, which is a big advantage.”

Adds Mlynarski: “You’re not being pressured to buy at all, and you can form new connections for later in the week, too. Pretty much everything minus the hard goods is here at the preview. Apparel, accessories, you name it, there’s a nice variety everywhere you look.”