These Business Strategies Are Blowing Up The Indoor Pickleball Club Market

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

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‘It’s beautiful’: St. John’s Black-owned market helps small businesses share culture, creativity

Margaret Asuquo, who started a small jewelry and craft business called Marge’s Creations and Designs last year, says it’s amazing to have the opportunity to sell her work alongside other creators at the Black-owned vendor market in St. John’s. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Margaret Asuquo says she’s been creative her entire life, always picking up new hobbies that allow her to use her hands to create something beautiful.

Being able to sell her original work — including beaded bags, earrings and necklaces — alongside other Black artists and creators at a vendor market is nothing short of “amazing,” she said.

“It is like the biggest pat on the back,” said Asuquo, who started a small jewlery and craft business called Marge’s Creations and Designs last year.

“To kind of see it come to life and then hear people like kind of say, ‘It’s beautiful’ and everything is like, oh my God, my heart is full. So it’s amazing.”

The Black-owned vendor market celebrated its third anniversary Saturday on George Street in St. John’s, an event that included live music and performances, as well as Black vendors selling clothing, food and jewlery.

A woman wearing a bright orange, blue and red sun dress smiles while standing beside a table covered in brightly coloured textiles and clothing.
Nicole Obiodiaka is the organizer and founder of Centra, an organization that works to curate cultural experiences in the city, including the Black-owned vendor market, which celebrated its third anniversary on George Street Saturday. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Nicole Obiodiaka is the organizer and founder of Centra, an organization that works to curate cultural experiences in the city, including the vendor market.

This year’s market was the biggest yet and the first on George Street. Last year it was held at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market. 

Obiodiaka hopes the market will continue to grow and expand.

Not only is the market a “beautiful” way for small businesses to showcase their talents and creativity, Obiodiaka said, but it’s also a way for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to experience other cultures. 

“It can be through shopping, through dialogue, through the music, like, it’s a whole multisensory experience to immerse yourself in our culture,” she said. “So it’s beautiful.”

Margaret Ajayi, the owner of St. John’s baking and catering compan Meggs Cakes & Events, moved to the province around four years ago from Nigeria. She can’t remember how many cakes she’s baked or events she’s catered since she arrived.

A woman wearing a black shirt stands in between two young girls.
Margaret Ajayi is the owner of Meggs Cakes & Events, a baking and catering company in St. John’s.
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