The Downtempo Demise of Sporting Goods Stores

The Downtempo Demise of Sporting Goods Stores

On Friday I received a email from MC Sports (I belonged to their rewards program), stating they were closing all of their stores and going through a liquidation.

It was sad for me to read this because I have been a fan and customer of MC Sports for almost 30 years. Back in the late 1980’s when I was in junior high my mother used to take me to their location in south suburban Lansing on south Torrance Ave (south of River Oaks Mall), it was always a nice and tight store. Things were easier to find and the people were more helpful from their main competitor Sportmart.

And in the years since the sporting good business has become more consolidated, more corporate and less of the smaller independent stores that we grew up with.

My first experience with any sporting goods store was the similar Herman’s World of Sports in the now demolished Evergreen Plaza on 95th & Western. I loved their hockey jerseys in the window but they always had the gear you needed for gym class, a camping trip or sport.

My aunt and late uncle lived on North Dearborn in the Gold Coast back in the early to mid 1980’s and the great Morrie Mages sporting goods store was over on Ontario and had multiple floors of gear. By the late 1980’s Sportmart had taken them over, who was later taken over by Sports Authority who went out of business last year.

Its no secret the sporting goods business is a competitive as the team sports gear they sell.

I briefly worked for Dick’s Sporting goods over 10 years ago and they are an aggressive retailer who took over several of their competitors. I can’t argue with their deep inventory of gear and wide array of merchandise but they believe in going hard for sales and against their fellow stores.

This is no different than the bookstore wars of the last couple of decades with Barnes & Noble being the only large retailer left and the former stores of Borders, Crown & Kroc & Brentanos left in the dust.

Sure we can blame Amazon and their endless online inventory but also think about Walmart & Target, they carry everything and at prices few people can resist.

I mean even back in the day my late father would get his gear from Kmart or Sears, because of price and availability. And of course now they are on their last legs.

I also hear that Gander Mountain is in trouble and considering bankruptcy and there is the messy takeover/merger of legendary outfitters Cabelas & Bass Pro Shops.

Shopping is changing (always has and stores come and go), so we see malls as being antiquated and we have “lifestyle centers”, which are just recreated neighborhoods like we had back in the day.

As for MC Sports their only local store was near me in Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet, the rest are Bloomington, East Peoria, Champaign, DeKalb, Forysth, Peru & Rockford.

Just a few weeks ago I went to MC Sports in Joliet and there was virtually no one in the store. I unofficially polled a few of my coworkers who had all recently visited MC Sports and notices how slow it was.

So now another retailer will be added to the past tense list and until then they have started out with 10% sales but this will gradually increase as time goes on.

But this store will be gone soon and only live on in us sporting goods fans’ memories.

Filed under: Chicago

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