I'm sure all retailers and sellers will tell you their advice and service is expert and honest, but is it?
Some use their reputation as a great player or coach as proof of being an expert, some their long term reputation as a retailer, but does this really make them an expert on equipment advice? Now I'm not keen on blowing my own horn, nor do I want to talk negative about others, but I'll tell you my story, and let you be the judge of whether I can give you expert and honest advice.
I've loved our sport from the first time I picked up a bat when I was about 10, and have been playing ever since, so that's about 35 years. I've experienced the game at all levels, as I've climbed through the grades, and I'm still playing in the top grade (State league) here in Adelaide currently, and loving it more than ever!
The troubles I experienced when playing against certain equipment types and styles (e.g. anti-spin / pimples) forced me to get help from an expert coach in this area to get a deep understanding of how and why this equipment and style works. This helped me a lot, but also encouraged me to try a wide variety of equipment, and this eventually turned me from a double sides looper to a modern defender (defensive one side, offensive the other). There really is no substitute for actually experiencing all the different types of equipment yourself! My fascination with equipment led me to research rubbers and blades during most of my spare time, and eventually led to compiling my research into an equipment website about 15years ago (unfortunately my website design skills don't match my table tennis skills!).
Equipment in those days was expensive in Australia, which led us try and find cheaper sources of equipment ourselves. Obviously this got the interest of other local players as well, so this eventually led to us starting an online shop run by my Mrs.
My best research was from online TT forums, which are not only a great source of information from players worldwide, but it's also a great place to share and discuss all equipment aspects and Table Tennis in general. As my knowledge (and enthusiasm) grew, I became a major participant and contributor to all the major forums. Although I do enjoy and support all the forums, certain aspects were missing, which (among other things) led me to start the OOAK forum, which has since grown to become one of these major forums itself!
I think that my contributions to these forums (over 30,000 posts and counting! ) is certainly testament to my passion for both our sport and that of equipment knowledge. I still continue to learn more everyday, and learn from my own testing and reviews of equipment, as well as the sharing and discussions of equipment with players at the club and online worldwide. I try to share my knowledge here in the shop with extra details in many product descriptions as well as an ever growing number of articles and guides. This is something that's lacking on most other retailers sites... do you ever wonder why? I've also written many articles and guides on other TT related topics, on my own blog, our forum, our reviews website, but also some on other major sites, including our own association's website.
Because of all this, I do feel I'm qualified to offer expert advice, and I can only assure you that I never let a potential sale get in the way of offering my honest advice and opinion. I know the little tips and tricks to guarantee an expert job in putting your bat together for best performance and durability, and I'd be more than happy to share them if you prefer to do it yourself. I invite open discussions of my advice or tips on any of the forums or elsewhere (and have on many occasions), which also ensures that I stay honest, which is the way I want it to be.
Of course there is no substitute for coaching and training to improve your game, but sometimes a better bat, or one that suits your style better, CAN make a big difference to your game! I can assure you nothing is more satisfying than seeing someone benefit from your personal tips and advice, and this surely beats a quick sale any day!
I may not be a good salesman, and I'm not too big-headed to think I know everything, but I can promise you honest and expert advice and service, based on all the years of research and experience I've summarised above. Make sure you can trust your retailer to provide this kind of service.
When starting this shop we wanted to offer something special and unique, both in service and products, hence the name "One Of A Kind", ie OOAK. Are we succeeding? Well I think we have in many ways, but I'll let you be the judge of that after telling you more of our story...
Unlike most retailers that start and grow as a business and then learn more about their customers and products, we started off as players (and still are!), and shared the frustration of high equipment prices, few choices and little-to-no expert advice. When we first started in the early 2000s, equipment prices were high, and were dominated by the major German and Japanese brands, which was the case not only in Australia but also in most western countries. Distributorship of the major brands were strictly controlled by a few major players, who controlled the margins on each product, and they appointed local distributors, who also added their margin, and supplied virtually the whole table tennis community.
After testing a range of the cheaper Chinese products ourselves, we discovered that many of them were of good quality, and they were not only much cheaper than the popular products at the time, but they were often as good or at times even more appropriate for different players and styles. Having the advantage of several languages in our family, we contacted other manufacturers directly, those that did not already have sole distributors in Australia. We started off the shop with a few brands and products, and slowly added others that we felt offered good value. We brought in products that people had never heard off, and because we tested them and often provided more product information than the regular 'back of the packet' blurb, people were willing to try them. So the shop took off, as we provided not only cheap prices but many unique products... true to our name.
Of course as we grew more popular and extended our range of products, other sellers caught onto the idea as well, and they also started bringing in these products, making us less 'unique'. At around the same time, internet sales became more popular, so people did not only have more choices of brands, but there was more competition as people could compare several different buyers for even the major brands. These factors have brought down prices enormously in Australia, and likely in other countries too.
Although we can't take credit for all this, we do feel we were pioneers and major contributors to giving players more cheaper options, and many more choices and information on a much wider variety of products. This can not only save them a lot of money, but also allows them to tweak equipment to find a closer match to their style, which can give them an advantage as a player.
As time went on, we started carrying some mainstream products as there was an obvious demand for them, but we continued to seek out new and unique products, and even today we're always on the lookout for others. We look for good quality products, that either offer good value or unique properties, and we no longer restrict this to just Chinese products.
We brought in top Swedish blades from Avalox, many unique products from Japanese companies like JUIC and TSP, and more recently the more exotic and premium products from Armstrong and Darker. We also brought in unique defensive equipment which is often lacking from the major brands, such as those from Dr Neubauer, Spinlord and Re-Impact.
We think our prices are always fair, and are based on our cost price. We don't to resort to the bullying tactics that some of bigger retailers might do (e.g. undercutting the prices for products we also sell, while hiking the price of the products we don't carry), so instead we simply offer a price match guarantee and adjust our prices accordingly. Seems fair?
We've grown every year since we started (a big thanks to those that always support us!) and we love what we do and we're here to stay, you can be assured of that!
Finally, because we now carry a much wider range of mainstream products, we're probably not as "One Of A Kind" as we used to be, but we still carry the widest range of unique and specialised products and brands, and offer expert advice and a personalised service that only a smaller family-based business can offer! I hope you agree. ~~~ by Alex aka haggisv ~~~
A few more general details about our shop:
The OOAK Table Tennis Shop is part of One of a Kind Trading, a registered Australian Business (ABN 49 408 158 262) based in Adelaide (Mawson Lakes), specialising in professional Table Tennis Equipment. Most of our equipment is purchased either directly from the manufacturer, and the rest from large reputable suppliers, so we can guarantee that all our products are new, genuine and fresh from the manufacturer. We aim to stock a wide range of the most popular table tennis rubbers, blades and accessories as well as many specialist products. If we do not have what you want, we can usually get it for you, and if it proves popular we may add it to our standard product list.
We are fully authorized distributors for the brands Avalox AVX, Armstrong, Butterfly, Darker, Donic, Dr Neubauer, Falco, Friendship 729, Galaxy/Yin-He, Giant Dragon, Globe, Hallmark, JUIC, Newgy, Re-Impact, Spinlord, Spinmax and TSP. Some highlights of these brands below:
Armstrong - a pioneer in rubbers technology with many unique products focusing on extreme spin and defensive rubbers. Rubbers are premium quality and made in Japan.
Avalox AVX produces some of the most famous and world class blades, used by several former world champion, and many top players today.
Butterfly is one of the leading manufacturers of table tennis equipment producing some of the most popular equipment worldwide.
Darker is an exotic and unique manufacturer of premium Kiso Hinoki blades, and their craftmanship is considered among the best in the world.
Donic is one of the major Europena (German) brands, producing a full range of high quality equipment for every player and style.
Dr Neubauer is a unique German based manufacturer and one of the leading specialising in pimple and antispin rubber and suitable blades.
Falco is a leading manufacturer for glues and table tennis tuners and boosters.
JUIC - a high quality Japanese manufacturers with many unique and high quality products, at much more affordable prices compared to most other Japanese manufacturers.
Newgy is the manufacturer of the world's most popular table tennis robots and accessories.
Re-Impact is a German based specialist blade maker, producing ultra light custom-made blades with incredible feeling and properties.
Spinloard is a German based defensive rubber specialist, producing among the top long pimples rubber for disruptive strategies and controlling spin.
Spinmax is a leading rubber cleaner which can restore and maintain the properties of your rubber.
TSP is one of the leading Japanese manufacturers, providing a full range of mainstream equipment as well as a wide range of specialist defensive equipment.
As well as an online shop, we also run the OOAK Table Tennis Reviews website, which is a comprehensive table tennis information site including reviews, articles, guides and other information. This site started off as a hobby more than 10 years ago, but has grown into a large resource of table tennis information resource that can be used freely by everyone.
We're also the founders, and still sponsor the OOAK Table Tennis Forum. The OOAK forum is a friendly and lively table tennis community, committed to providing a comprehensive and independent source of information and advice about table tennis, and to help promote and grow our sport. Although we're actively involved in the forum, the OOAK Shop does not control the forum and everyone is free to speak about any topics or shop, as long as it abides by the forum guidelines.
We are also members of the Brighton District Table Tennis Club in Adelaide, and go there regularly for practice Saturday afternoons. So if you want to see us, pick something up or just want to chat to us, we are happy to see you there!
Luna and Alex