A family passion that is passed on from father to daughters retaining the exact qualities that for nearly 50 years have made it a point of reference for sportsmen and sportswomen in Terni and beyond: experience, competence, friendliness. Since last April, the sceptre of the historical sportswear shop in Via Pacinotti in the Cotogni family’s shop has been passed from Paolo, the father to his daughters Annalisa and Valeria, who have received the onus and honour of taking over the shop’s management.
Which sports sectors does Cotogni Sport operate in?
Principally, we cater for tennis and skiing, which are our two most important disciplines. There’s also swimming, table tennis and paddle (a revised version of tennis) but our core business is driven by tennis and skiing.
Why is your store superior to the rest?
We have become a point of reference in the field because our clients can rely on a degree of competence and attention to detail that is unparalleled by others. We are consultants before we are businesspeople because we accompany the client while they make their choice, we advise them and we provide the optimal conditions for them to make the best choice possible.
How was your specialisation in these sports born?
It was thanks to our father who has been a tennis coach since the 1960s. The idea to open a business selling sportswear and sports equipment followed immediately when he realised that there was a relatively unexplored market for these products. Skiing was his second love and even though he was never a ski instructor, long years of practice endowed him with extraordinary technical competence and knowledge of the right gear.
Now, the management is in your hands. What have you learnt from papà Paolo?
The same passion for sport. We’ve done everything from tennis to volleyball to skiing. There’s no doubt that genes are passed on. We believe it wouldn’t be possible to truly do well in this work without a great passion for sport at the base of it all that pushes you forward and we know that it is one of the reasons our clients seek us out.
Who are your clients?
We have a great base of loyal customers – they form the great majority of our clients. They are most important to use because it means that they trust us and that they know they will be taken care of both in terms of the quality of the items they purchase and in terms of our competence in the field. For us, selling is more than just a simple transaction and transform of items from one hand to the next. It means that we find a sense of harmony with our client, understanding what they really want according to their needs.
A process that also requires a deep understanding of what will sell.
Yes, that’s exactly it. You can only help a customer all the way if you are competent in what you are dealing with. This is essential. The sale of a ski boot or a tennis racket, to mention but two of the most popular items in our shop, requires knowledge of the technical characteristics of the product, as well as an understanding of customer’s needs. If a person walks in to the store is a beginner, it is useless to offer him the more technical and expensive racket model. The client doesn’t possess the skills to appreciate the difference therefore it is more appropriate that she or he starts with a basic model.
Once upon a time, many of these items were produced in artisan methods. Today we see large-scale production and standardisation thanks to technological innovations. Where can you make a difference compared to other retailers?
Let’s continue to talk about tennis. I’ll mention another example: today, the stringing of the racket is fully automated. The desired parameters are entered into the automatic machine and it does it all. However, to know the parameters, you need to understand what kind of game the customer plays including their strokes and the effects they want to achieve, for instance, if they prefer to play base line or to go down to the net, and so on. No machine can understand that. You need the benefit of experience, gained on the playing field. Continuing to talk about tennis, I quote another example. Today the stringing of the racket is made with a fully automatic machine, just insert the parameters that you want to achieve and then does it all. But to know the parameters you need to understand what kind of game makes the customer, such as strokes and what effect it wants to achieve, if you prefer to play golf or go to the net down, and so on. For that there are no machinery, serves much gained experience on the playing field.
What are they latest technical novelties in the products you’re selling?
The materials have changed vastly with time. Today, especially in the case of skiing, breathable microfiber products are used to absorb sweat while simultaneously maintaining a constant body temperature. Now, these are used in all outdoor sports, from running to cycling. We only sell items that meet certain standards because we know that our customers are only after the best that the market has to offer.
Shops like yours now face large-scale retail competition. How have you managed to endure this?
Given our chosen business model, which we have described, we actually think that large retailers can paradoxically be beneficial to us. Let us explain better: the big sportswear chains offer products of a quality that is simply incomparable to the quality offered by the best brands that we sell and our customers know it. After trying both of them, they realise the difference and thanks to this, we have demonstrated the high quality of what we sell. On the other hand there is also the technical advice we offer. Our experience and expertise are included in the price of the item that the customer takes home and these have grown in the wake of all that our father set out to accomplish nearly 50 years ago.
Visit the website: Cotogni Sport