‘Retailtainment’ grows in West Michigan with expanding golf simulator concept

‘Retailtainment’ grows in West Michigan with expanding golf simulator concept
<strong> Courtesy XGOLF </strong>

Indoor entertainment venues are taking retail by storm, and it is no different in West Michigan as a golf simulator brand continues its expansion.

XGolf recently signed a lease for a suite at the Wilsontown Center, 4830 Wilson Ave. SW in Wyoming, according to Dave Denton, vice president at DAR Commercial Real Estate. The 8,456-square-foot space is XGolf’s third location in the area, joining locations in Grand Rapids and Holland.

XGolf features accurate golf simulator bays, as well as drinks and snacks.

“Michigan is always listed as one of the top 10 states for golfing,” Denton said. “XGolf fills the gap for the shorter season we have here. It also gives everyone the opportunity to practice on their own or play as a foursome and have some drinks and compete on world-famous courses.”

It will be the third and final XGolf location for franchisees Mike Bronkhorst and Mitch VanTuinen. The standard XGolf location has six bays, but the new Wyoming location, set to open in September, will have eight bays.

Bronkhorst said the venues are great for practicing and do not replace golf on a real course or simply a good time with friends. It also provides a place for leagues in the winter. The popularity of golf in West Michigan has been key to the success of XGolf.

“We have a lot of golfers in West Michigan, and they just want to keep their swings active,” Bronkhorst said. “It’s a social activity for a lot of people, but we get golfers, zero handicaps and teaching pros who come in, and it speaks volumes when you have a scratch golfer saying how accurate the simulators are.”

He said the Wyoming location will draw well from markets like Jenison, Hudsonville and Grandville. The stores typically are well into the black during the fall and winter season, while the summer season is in the red.

Bronkhorst, who has a full-time job with the city of Zeeland, is ecstatic to be part of the XGolf family and rattled off some of its recent growth in major metro areas. One exciting venue is American Family Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers.

There, three of the seven golf bays look over the playing field.

XGolf now has more than 100 locations across the U.S., according to a company release in September 2022, with franchises in 32 states. The franchise program began in 2016.

“We’re focused on continuing to grow at a rapid pace,” XGolf CEO Ryan D’Arcy told Forbes last year. “Our goal is to add between 35 and 45 new venues a year for the foreseeable future. We don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. We’re going to go into prime real estate locations where we can build a beautiful bar and be part of this new entertainment model when it comes to retail spaces.”

Eventually, D’Arcy said there is a vision to have a standardized playing field that could evolve into national leagues within the franchises.

Golf simulators are big business, with the market value reaching $1.3 billion in 2021, according to Straits Research. By 2030, that market is expected to reach $3.4 billion.

It’s not just golf simulators filling up retail space across the country. Entertainment retail as a whole is a segment on the rise, according to Denton.

“Trampoline parks, laser tag and indoor cart tracks bring new life to former junior and big box retail spaces,” Denton said.

The entertainment retail sector, sometimes referred to as “funertainment” and “retailtainment,” includes concepts such as TopGolf, Dave & Busters and a growing segment capitalizing on the surge in pickleball and esports popularity.

The concepts often mix food and beverage, as well as an assortment of activities to keep customers entertained for multiple hours.

The sites help fill vacant space in retail centers that have fallen victim over the years to dwindling retail traffic at traditional department stores.

This story can be found in the Feb. 6 issue of the Grand Rapids Business Journal. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here.

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