Wednesday, April 4, 2018

WOODY SCHNEIDER | His 100,000th racquet

Woody Schneider strings his 100,000th
tennis racquet, a Yonex.
I left my tennis racquet in Florida and needed to play yesterday.

So I got a new racquet from Woody Schneider at NYC Racquet Sports, at 157 West 35th Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue, close to Penn Station.

This is now his main place of work although he has had three other retail stores until October last year. He is still located where he started, in Grand Central Terminal between tracks 38 and 39, and at the NTC Pro Shop at the National Tennis Center.
Woody Schneider (L) with Björn Borg.

When I walked in, Woody was about to start on another racquet. He said he would put that one aside and string another one while I went nearby for coffee. He had the racquet ready in 25 minutes.

I reminded him that last time he had recommended a smaller grip for me because I have a "meaty hand."

Woody focuses on his (now
my) racquet.
Last year I wrote about Woody's long career as a racquet stringer and store owner. He started his own retail store 26 years ago and 20 years ago he took over the 44th Street tennis store, familiar to anyone who walks 44th Street to Grand Central Terminal.

He gave up the 44th Street store in October because the construction work going on in the area hurt his sales and competition from the Internet meant that revenue was off.

Last year my wife Alice and I purchased Babolat racquets from him.

This time he did not have a suitable Babolat racquet and recommended a Yonex, which is made by a Tokyo-based company that first made its name half a century ago making badminton racquets.

The founder of Yonex, Minoru Yoneyama is now Honorary Chairman and has been named a Japanese Sacred Treasure. His son Ben Yoneyama is the current Chairman.

As Woody was stringing the racquet, I asked him if he was stringing his 50,000th racquet.

He paused briefly to consider. "Ten  racquets strung a day, average; 50 a week, average; 2,500 a year, average; over 40 years. So this would be personally my 100,000th racquet." 

We had a small celebration with his associate, who was working on another racquet. 
Woody Schneider (R) with Roger Federer.

I asked Woody how it was going these days, competing with the online sellers. He said that the quality of the stringing of these racquets left something to be desired, but it was hard to compete with these sellers on price.

He has a 2,000sf space at the Penn Station site and really uses only one-fourth of it. I suggested he reduce cost by sharing the space with another similar business, like sports clothing. He thought that was a great idea, but how would he find someone? I called a friend in the sub-leasing business but she only does office space, not retail.

Any ideas? Comment or email john@cityeconomist.com.