Apr 21, 2020 - Sports

How sporting goods stores are surviving the coronavirus pandemic

Play It Again Sports in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Play It Again Sports in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Courtesy: Wendi Bowman

Even with organized sports on hiatus, plenty of sports-related businesses have soldiered on, hoping to weather the storm and come out the other side of this pandemic relatively unscathed.

The state of play: "We have hundreds of mom and pop stores [selling on our platform], so we've been trying to support them and put their stories front and center," Brendan Candon, CEO of online marketplace SidelineSwap, tells Axios.

  • "They're appreciating that, but at the same time, people just aren't shopping much right now, online or in-store. Basically, exactly what you imagine is happening in this industry right now is what we're seeing."

What they're saying: I spoke with Wendi Bowman, general manager of the Tulsa branch of Play It Again Sports — a retailer with over 300 franchises nationwide. She spoke with me from her store, which is still open thanks to Oklahoma's laws regarding essential businesses.

Jeff: Have you noticed any changes in what's selling right now?

"Well, our disc golf courses are still open ... so we've been selling a couple hundred dollars a day in discs. If I could get more weights in, I'd make a fortune. I got a bench delivered last night, and it was sold before I got in this morning."

Jeff: How do you feel about the business going forward?

"I'm hopeful. We got approved for our SBA loan this week, our vendors have been receptive to payment plans, our landlord forgave April rent ... I think we're gonna be okay."

Next up was Eli Golder, owner of EdgeTek Hockey — a small hockey shop outside Minneapolis, with a second location ready to go as soon as this crisis abates.

Jeff: What's business been like since everything shut down?

"Normally, we do $20,000-$30,000 a month, mostly in store. But right now, SidelineSwap is our main source of income, and that's been slow because people don't want to spend money."

Jeff: How have you had to adjust to this new normal?

"The only sports stores here in Minnesota that are considered essential are the ones that sell bikes. So if you sell bikes, you kinda lucked out. ...We've found some ways to work around it by opening by appointment only. We'll repair your skates ... convert them into rollerblades ... things like that."

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