Sunday, June 26, 2011

Visiting Bokkie Sport

Brian Basson of Bokkie Sport in Upington shares Anna de Villiers’ philosophy that you can only sell it if you stock it. “We carry a bit of everything,” he says.

Over the past 27 years, Bokkie Sport has become an institution in Upington, after Bokkie moved the business here from his hometown Hartswater, and prior to that his wife’s hometown Ventersdorp. The store moves were prompted by declining customer numbers, but “this is where we stay,” he says emphatically. As in many independent businesses, he is passing the baton to his son Brian.

Bokkie is a big rugby fan – he’s keeping a keen eye on a Super 15-match on TV as we talk – but soccer is now the main sport in Upington, with rugby participation dwindling to one team in town, he says. A quick finger count adds up to at least ten soccer clubs in the immediate area. Golf remains a good market. Of the two tennis clubs, only one is left. Badminton is dead. There is little interest in running, but school kids still participate in athletics.

The schools are very active in team sports like cricket, hockey, table tennis, rugby, volleyball and, of course, soccer, says Brian. “The schools are a big market for us.” These would not only include schools from surrounding towns like Keimoes and Kakamas, but also many farm schools.

Despite the small number of players, rugby support is still strong and replica jersey of the Cheetahs and Bulls are displayed equally prominently. As in most sport stores, the demand for clothes and footwear exceeds equipment sales. Apart from a few ranges from traditional sporting brands like adidas ( Upington forms part of the area covered by legendary Free State agent Pine Pienaar, who actually still visits stores) it is predominantly the lifestyle brands that catch the eye.

The competition in the clothing and footwear market is fierce, though, with chains like Tekkie Town, Totalsport, sportscene, Shoelette’s, Shoe City, PEP, Mr Price, other independents and a franchise like Trappers all competing for a slice of the cake. Which, as Bokkie reminds us, is not getting any bigger.

Petronella Titus, Jason Jacobs and Brian and Bokkie Basson of Bokkie Sport in Upington


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