The ‘squash shop’ concept is being rolled out across the UK by England Squash & Racketball as part of The Big Hit campaign which engages the public with these sports. In Manchester, an empty retail unit sandwiched between two of the high streets leading fashion retail brands has been transformed into an open squash facility and proved an instant hit with shoppers.
“We feel that empty shops can be put to better use for the community by using them as a temporary squash shops,” said Steve Amos, Head of National Network at ESR. “Working with retail management to make them available and staffed by our regional coaching team, we want consumers to walk out of a clothing store and straight in to a squash shop for a quick taster session and to learn the fun and health benefits that you can have with a squash racket and a ball.”
There are more than two-thousand clubs with squash courts in the country and more than half a million people play squash every week in Britain, Whilst the sport peaked at almost double that in the mid 1980’s and the sport hopes that its bid for Olympic status in 2020 will continue the increase in participation that it has enjoyed in recent years.
Launching the first squash shop in Manchester was Britain’s top female player Laura Massaro.
The world number 3 from Lancashire thinks the squash shop is a great way to get the public playing; ”I think it’s a great idea. Squash is the perfect sport to put in the ‘shop window’ and because we play on courts not much bigger than this shop, the experience for shoppers to pick up a racket and have a go, gives them a real feel for how much fun the game can be.
“There is so much redundant retail space on Britain’s high streets, that making good use of it to get the public playing a sport like squash is so blindingly simple. The Big Hit should be a big success.”