Three Milford, Connecticut, couples who have been pals for about five years now made one special commitment before embarking on their business venture: “No matter how it goes, we will always be friends.”
Fast forward from that January promise to the recent opening of Shoreline Pickleball on November 11; these six individuals have kept to that promise and are still friends.
The delicate balance between mixing personal relationships and business hasn’t been without its challenges. Yet, the surging interest in pickleball is one of the key factors underpinning their successful partnership, as co-owner Brian Malia told Nick Sambides of The Milford Mirror.
“Six heads trying to get together to create one idea is not the easiest thing. We have all butted heads with different ideas, as you can imagine, but in the end, we come up with a common idea that makes sense for the business.”
Situated at the former subway turnstile manufacturing site on 333 Quarry Road, Shoreline boasts five indoor pickleball courts, locker rooms, a pro shop, a lounge, and a 35-foot snack and non-alcoholic drink bar.
No Mean Feat
Transforming the 13,400-square-foot space was no mean feat. Leased in April, the partners undertook extensive renovations throughout summer and fall. While contractors were involved, the six partners actively contributed to the renovations, shared co-owner Danielle Geddes, alongside her husband Ryan Geddes.
Danielle recounts the story’s beginnings, “Brian kept going by the building, and he had it in the back of his mind. He was thinking that it was big. Everybody’s playing pickleball. So he thought about it, and it went from there.”
The selection of partners unfolded organically, as Brian Malia, who runs a crane company, explained to the third couple, Patrick and Cindy Oliver.
A Passion For Pickleball
“I explained to the Olivers that I had already been looking into this (pickleball). Cindy said, ‘Oh my God. Please talk to Patrick about this. He is always looking for something to do.’ “
Beyond their friendship, all six share a passion for pickleball while juggling full-time jobs or managing their own businesses. “It is a six-person partnership, but everybody has a different dynamic, so it is working really good,” Patrick said.
The collective investment of about $400,000 went on substantial refurbishments, including structural changes and court installations, resulting in a refined and inviting space for play.
Another stroke of luck was securing Angelo Rossetti to head the club. With over 30 years as a player and coach, Rossetti, a National Pickleball League champion, brings invaluable expertise, having also secured a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest pickleball rally with his twin brother (for those stat fans among you, that’s 6 hours and 11 minutes or 16,046 consecutive dinks in a row!).
Membership fees aside, the club offers drop-in play and has already attracted over 800 visitors since its soft opening in early November.
Beyond business success, the couples aspire to craft enduring memories. Despite the challenges, there have been treasured moments, like when one of the team tumbled off a ladder and crashed through a table while painting mere days before the opening.
His Fondest Memory
“It will be one of those things that you bring up every so often. When you are at a party with a group of people, you throw it out there,” said Brian, “Just to bring up the highlight.
“Why go back to the harder things or the challenging things? Once you open a business, you want to be able to go back and look at it and laugh.”
For Patrick, the ribbon-cutting is his most cherished memory. “Witnessing our grand opening after all the planning was immensely fulfilling,” he recalls.
“Knowing that we have been planning for this and the finished product was at our grand opening, it was rewarding because it is what we have been talking about and envisioning from the beginning,” he said.
A Surreal Moment
Then, there was that surreal 2:30 a.m. moment when Ryan and Patrick, fatigued yet elated after painting, admired the beauty of their creation.
As Oliver recalls, “Ryan said, ‘Look at how beautiful this place is.’ And I said, ‘Let’s play.’ Next thing you know, we were playing pickleball on the place that we had just built.”
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