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5/7/2024 |  Life Time fitness leans into pickleball with Lululemon partnership, new courts and more (CNBC Sports)
  • Life Time fitness is trying to grow its brand by investing in America’s fastest-growing sport, pickleball, and expanding its offerings.
  • The upscale fitness company has teamed up with Lululemon, naming it as an official apparel partner of Life Time pickleball and tennis.
  • It also has partnerships with tennis legend Andre Agassi and top-rated pickleball player Ben Johns to grow the sport further.
4/22/2024 |  Pickleball Kingdom Signs Multi-Location Deal in Utah (SGB UPDATE) Pickleball Kingdom, the indoor pickleball franchise, expanded into Utah, led by John Peterson and Kaleb Scholes.
“We’re thrilled to introduce Pickleball Kingdom to Utah through our multi-location deal,” said Ace Rodrigues, founder and CEO of Pickleball Kingdom. “Utah has a thriving community, and we’ve received countless requests from the great state of Utah to open Pickleball Kingdom locations there. We know that Kaleb Scholes and John Peterson are the perfect leaders to champion the sport in this region.”
4/18/2024 |  The Picklr to Open New Club in Indianapolis (SGB UPDATE) The Picklr Indianapolis Keystone Crossing Club, located at 3810 E. 82nd Street, will be the first of more than five clubs the company will open in the greater Indianapolis area. The 30,000-square-foot space will include ten indoor courts with outdoor-style surfacing, a pro shop, private event space, unlimited league play, tournaments, youth academies, and open play.
4/16/2024 |  Apparel, Footwear Vets Dive into Pickleball (RUNNING INSIGHT)

There is no lack of people and companies investing in pickleball – well known these days at the fastest-growing sport in America – and it is interesting to find that a team of veteran apparel and footwear executives have joined the game. It’s a company called PB5star and it is led by founder and CEO Chris Gallagher, whose former footwear company, Vionic, was acquired for $360M in 2018.
According to a report in Forbes Business, Gallagher has assembled a team of retail veterans that includes Angela Caltagirone, PB5star’s chief digital marketing officer, who was Vionic’s CMO after a 25-year stint at Williams-Sonoma, and who will be leading the company’s entry into e-commerce; Carlos Sanchez, the company’s CFO/COO, previously an executive at Vionic Crocs, and Global Brands Group; David Warwick, chief design officer, also from Vionic; and Marisa Farnsworth, who worked in marketing at Williams-Sonoma.
Interestingly, before headed to retail the brand is initially pursuing a staged launch that begins with DTC through 2024 before considering a move into retail.
“At PB5star, we’re connecting with our community, starting with a direct-to-consumer approach that allows us to quickly innovate and adapt our high-quality products,” Gallagher told Forbes Business. “This agility, combined with our commitment to detail and styling, sets us apart in crafting a unique brand experience that extends beyond the court.”

But the plan, according to Caltagirone, is to eventually partner with retailers “who can offer a different buying experience and reach customers in specific, authentic contexts — such as at sporting clubs, resort pro shops, and community events.”

PB5star's initial assortment focuses on Women's and Men's apparel as well as pickleball paddles. According to its website: “At PB5star, we want you to feel amazing, look incredible, and play better than yesterday. We create stellar gear that gives you confidence on and off the court.”
Key to the company’s approach is an investment in technology a tech stack that will enable the company to scale quickly.

“We built a strong foundation for our future with the full customer experience and journey in mind,” Caltagirone told Forbes Business. This stack includes Shopify, NARVAR for post purchase service and returns processes, a Netsuite ERP omni- channel inventory management and supply chain integration, and a JOOR instance to seamlessly work with future retail partners.

“Usually a mom and pop pickleball brand is not going to be doing that. So we already have sights on building the foundation so that we can grow, as well as go global,” Caltagirone says.

PB5star also plans to invest in grassroots events and philanthropic activities with the pickleball community

4/15/2024 |  Life Time Opens NYC’s Largest Indoor Pickleball Club Atop Penn Station (SGB UPDATE) Life Time’s luxury athletic club, Life Time Penn 1, opened today in New York City’s Penn District. The street-level club occupies the redeveloped 2.5 million-square-foot Penn 1 office tower, includes seven pickleball courts, the most in the city, and offers Life Time’s signature Alpha, GTX and UltraFit group training programs.

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