SI Vault
Jill Lieber
November 16, 1981
Jim Spring prides himself on being on top of things. "You know the current boom in roller skating?" says Spring, the president of SMART (Sports Marketing and Retail Technology), a consulting firm based in Wilton, Conn. "Well, I predicted that craze four years ago."
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November 16, 1981

To Know What's Coming And What's Gone Already, You Might Get 'smart'

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But that's not all. SMART'S polls show that wind-surfing will soon die in the U.S.—"Anything that depends mainly on kids is short-lived"—and the tennis market will slowly come back to life.

"In the early '70s an enormous amount of tennis equipment was sold, but by '77 sales had dropped significantly," he says. "Then, last spring, they hit bottom.

"But I see a 50% increase in the market, thanks to the children of all those people who tried tennis but found it too difficult. Those people are now jogging—but they want their kids to learn tennis."

However, Spring doesn't want to sound like a know-it-all all the time. He'll never forget the time SMART looked far less than brilliant—downright dumb, in fact. "The worst mistake I ever made was in 1978-79," Spring says, now able to laugh over the episode. "The ski industry was doing $812 million in retail sales, and I predicted that winter that industry sales would exceed $1 billion. So everyone manufactured skis like they were coming out of your ears, and retailers stocked their shelves to the brim with ski stuff.

"And what happened? The ski industry went the other way. It didn't snow that winter! I sure learned my lesson. Never again will I make another prediction based on weather. It's too iffy."

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