When we say sports equipment, what stores come to mind? Dick’s? Sport’s Authority? Maybe a local mom and pop shop?
Yes, these places are staples in how we think about buying sporting goods but also have their limitations. For a lot of folks, the big box retailers are the only option they have available. These companies are a big reason why sporting equipment can be so expensive as there’s little to no competition to give them a run for their money. However, that’s exactly what the folks at SidelineSwap are trying to change.
Founded in 2012 by former Division 1 athletes, SidelineSwap is a peer-to-peer marketplace for sporting goods. As former players, they wanted to create a model that was affordable while still guaranteed they got quality equipment, especially with other interactions they’ve had shopping secondhand online. And even though multi-sided companies have sprung up in other industries like crafts, fashion, and music, the sports industry is long overdue for an innovative solution. With a special blend of experience, grit, and hustle, these folks are looking to change the way we are buying sporting goods permanently. Here’s how:
What They’re Doing Different
When it comes to niche marketplaces, the sports world is untapped. This model has seen successful for companies like Etsy, Poshmark, and Reverb, and SidelineSwap is looking to offer it to the sports market. Niche marketplaces provide consumers with a better sense of trust when their product is being sold by someone who is passionate about the industry and the quality of the product. By creating a community of athletes and sports families, the quality is much higher while still priced for the second-hand market.
What SidelineSwap allows any athlete or sports family to create a “locker”, or micro-ecommerce site, where new or used sports gear can be sold. It’s free to list an item for sale and only takes seconds to set up from any computer or mobile device. A sleek browsing experience makes it easy to find gear, and their buyer guarantee creates a sense of trust amongst buyer and sellers on the platform. Most sellers are athletes themselves, so they are experts in what they’re selling and can provide insight into how the products fit with different body types, experience levels, etc.
When you factor in these benefits in combination with SidelineSwap’s quickly growing user base, they’re primed to start taking the sporting goods world by storm.
Where The Opportunity Lies
According to Statista, the sporting goods industry is estimated to be worth approximately $88 billion in the U.S. alone. And while most of us can remember a brick and mortar store or two that sold used equipment, it’s something that really hasn’t been looked at online. Sure, companies like eBay offered a one-stop shop for these goods, but less than 15% of the listings on eBay’s sporting goods section are used. The sellers are mostly stores who sell stock product and fail to communicate details about the product so consumers are often skeptical as to what condition the equipment is in, as well as if the fit is true to size. While it might sound aspirational, companies like SidelineSwap are not only taking a piece of eBay’s pie but the entire sporting goods industry in general.
For a lot of folks, sports aren’t cheap. Even just trying out something like golf or hockey requires a fair amount of investment upfront into gear, which discourages a lot of people from participating. This creates an environment that limits sports participation to those that can afford it, potentially constricting the level and quality of athletes potentially available. However, SidelineSwap is looking to help change all that, providing equal access to everyone that wants to take part.
How This Industry Will Grow
Despite many pundits saying that the sports industry is shrinking, participation amongst youth is actually on the rise. According to the Physical Activity Council, team sport participation has increased gradually 2.4% over the past five years, with sports like lacrosse increasing by 17% in that same timeframe. Kids and adults alike are playing sports, and for SidelineSwap, that opportunity only looks to amplify their market share.
With the combination of quality goods at a lower cost and a larger number of potential customers, SidelineSwap is well on its way to becoming a big name in the industry. When factoring in the ability to provide affordable access to sports, expect them to only grow through their efforts of formulating a community, which is what the goal of sports is all about.
The bond that people form over sports is strong, and for the SidelineSwap crew, they’re looking to make that growth even stronger.