The Lucky Dog Volleyball Story
It started with a $500 investment in 1987. A women's volleyball team in Winston-Salem, NC could not find uniforms. A phone call was placed to a company in the Los Angeles area called Sideout. With an initial purchase of $500 the company, Winston Court Sports, was born.
That first year, we set up our store outdoors at adult grass tournaments in and around Winston-Salem, NC. In these early years we bought our clothing from Sideout, Club Sportswear, Sets, Redsand, and Straight Down. The clothing was very beach-oriented. We were a part time business; only working a few indoor tournaments during the winter and spring, and some grass ones in the summer. Our owner, Maria Byars, had a full-time job at USAirways. During this time the number of junior girls playing in North Carolina and across the country began to increase rapidly. This is when our focus began to change.
Goodbye Adults, Hello Juniors
We adjusted and began selling at junior girl's tournaments. We started traveling to Carolina Region juniors’ tournaments all over the state of North Carolina. We moved away from the beach look and started printing our own designs on t-shirts, sweatshirts, pants and shorts. In March of 1987, Maria quit her job and begin to work full time on Winston Court Sports. The business expanded by adding a fundraising division. WCS sent out boxes of clothing to college coaches for them to sell at their summer camps. We spent a week at the University of Virginia running their camp store. The number of colleges and clubs we worked with steadily grew.
Why Lucky Dog?
In 2003, we tripled our warehouse space by moving to a new location. In 2006, we changed our name from Winston Court Sports to Lucky Dog Volleyball. Maria had found a small, female beagle. She named her Lucky. Maria has always felt lucky and she loved her "Lucky" dog. The new company name was just the right fit. The Lucky Dog Volleyball website debuted in 2006. A new employee was hired.
Lucky Dog was shipping orders to all 50 states and internationally. We began to take our mobile store outside NC traveling across the country to large, multi-team tournaments. In 2010, we moved to a larger 4000 sqft warehouse with more office space. By 2019, we had outgrown that place (affectionately called the Dog Pound) so we upgraded to an 11,000 sqft warehouse, called the Executive Dog Pound (called the EDP).
Four Divisions of the Company
There are now four divisions of Lucky Dog Volleyball - website sales (relaunching in Fall 2023), tournament merchandising, consignment sales (our Earn Extra Cash program), and volleyball events. We ship orders all over the US, we travel to tournaments across the United States and we work with hundreds of colleges, clubs, and individuals through our consignment division. We design and print our shirts and sweatshirts and custom manufacture sweatpants and hoodies. We custom dye many of our tees. The Lucky Dog Volleyball Brand is a known brand in the volleyball world.
In 2005, our website boasted one of the largest volleyball e-commerce platforms in the country. Since then we have focused on other aspects of the business, such as face to face sales at volleyball tournaments. In the fall of 2023, we will launch a new e-commerce website to allow our customers to shop many of our products. This comes after several requests for our merchandise from customers who want to buy our products for special occasions. Products will be available online fall of 2023.
We travel the country partnering with event hosts to provide quality event merchandise to players and fans. We have traveled to as many as 24 events in one year, but recently adjusted our tournament schedule only about 12-14 yearly. We are the Official Championship Event Merchandisers for USA Volleyball, AAU Volleyball, and the Aloha Region Volleyball Association. Our largest events include Girls Jr National Championships (GJNC), the Sunshine Classic, Salt Lake City Showdown Girls National Qualifier, Boys Jr National Championships (BJNC) and AAU National Championships (AAUG). We recently awarded over $10,000 in travel assistance to help fund clubs traveling to Honolulu, HI to participate in the Aloha Summer Classic and the Spring Break Madness events held there.
We study the market and design products that are trending and highly desired. We use several metrics in our data analysis to accurately forecast for every event. Our goal is to manufacture championship event merchandise that becomes one of the customer's favorite piece in their closet.
Consignment Partnerships (Earn Extra Cash)
We partner with Volleyball Clubs and Colleges across the US to raise money. Each year we send our merchandise to organizations and guide them through the process of setting up their own stores with our products. We handle all the paperwork and even take back every item that does not sell. This eliminates the risk for our partners and allows them to earn extra cash for their volleyball players.
We host several volleyball tournament events each year. Our goal is to provide quality competition and relevant information to participants. We work with college recruiters to stay abreast of their needs so that our events remain relevant to them as well.
Coming to a Court Near You
We travel over 100,000 miles during the tournament season, we ship packages to a variety of states and have hundreds of schools and clubs selling our merchandise at their events. This is quite a change from a company that began with a $500 order. We have more space, we have more people working here, and more products to sell. What has not changed is our values and our beliefs. We will always be a company who sincerely enjoys and wants relationships with the people who shop with us. We value those who sell our merchandise on consignment as a fundraiser and continuously strive to make the program better. We appreciate the coaches who work with players and some of us continue to coach. We have been referees ourselves and know they are an integral part of the volleyball world. We've created and run tournaments. We understand and value the many parts of the volleyball world. We look forward to many additional years of volleyball.