We’re deep into the pickleball craze in the United States, with participation numbers continuing to swell and demand rising for courts nationwide. At the same time, we’re seeing opportunistic operators take over abandoned shopping malls and move into spaces once occupied by big-box stores that are falling on hard times.
One of the biggest names in the pickleball-goes-to-the-mall trend is none other than the Major League Pickleball founder Steve Kuhn, with his appropriately named “Pickle mall” concept; he’s already making nationwide plans for construction. But Kuhn is by no means the only player in the market, and we’ve already seen dozens of indoor facilities open around the country.
As more indoor facilities stake their claim, the industry is seeing a wide variety of approaches to the construction, configuration, and operations of these facilities. I spoke to a number of indoor facility operators around the country and found a wide variety of approaches, with each business bringing unique characteristics to the table.
Over the past couple of months, I had the opportunity to speak representatives from these indoor pickleball companies:
- GameChangers in southwest Chicagoland
- Dill Dinkers, a Washington, D.C. area chain now franchising nationally with more than 120 signed affiliates
- Pickle Haus in Algonquin, Illinois in the Chicago northern suburbs.
- Pickleball Kingdom, the largest existing franchisor of pickleball clubs
- Dan Jenkins, a Pickleball Kingdom – North Texas franchisee building an indoor facility in Plano, with others planned
- Performance Pickleball RVA (aka PPBRVA), which opened in January in Richmond, Virginia’s West End
- Chicken N Pickle, the famous restaurant and pickleball chain with locations from Indiana to Las Vegas
- The Picklr, the Utah based chain that’s now franchising nationally and making a huge splash
- Pickleballerz, an indoor facility in Chantilly, Virginia that was in operation pre-Covid, well before the pickleball boom started
- Bangers & Dinks, an indoor facility in Richmond, Virginia’s Midlothian suburb
- Crush Yard, a fantastic space now open in Mount Pleasant, S.C., part of the greater Charleston area
- Ace Pickleball Club, a franchise model that has just opened its first two locations in Roswell, Georgia and Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Pickle and Social, which just opened a massive space in Gwinnett, Georgia.
Their experiences and approaches are sprinkled throughout