Saying it’s getting tougher and tougher for a small store to work with the big sporting goods companies, the owner of a long-time downtown Hays business decided it’s time to close the doors for good.
Terry Bright, owner of Goodwin Sporting Goods, 109 W. 11th, and his employees began preparing Friday for the store’s liquidation sale, announced in a flyer that arrived in many Hays mailboxes the day before.
“I was kind of on the QT for quite some time. My phone started ringing yesterday,” Bright said of the announcement.
The sale will begin Jan. 3 and run through Jan. 9, with further sales to be announced in advertising the following week.
The closing is not for a lack of business, but rather a large part is the growing complexities of working with suppliers over the last decade or so, Bright said.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult,” he said. “When I first started, you could have an account with a major company and you could purchase your needs to fulfill your customers.
“In this day and age, it’s not that way. Things have totally changed,” he said.
Now, companies like Nike have minimum order requirements and require orders six to nine months in advance.
“Then I wasn’t able to get access. They chose what I was able to buy style-wise. So I didn’t get the latest, the greatest, the early release stuff that the kids wanted,” he said.
“The thing that irritated the heck out of me was I wasn’t able to provide my customers with the product that I should have been able to,” he said.
Because of that, selling the business wasn’t something he gave much consideration.
“I guess I have a conscience,” he said. “For a new person coming in, wow. The minimums are just tremendous from those national companies.”
It was much easier for Bright when he took over the business from founder Duane Goodwin, who opened the store in 1952 in a 25-foot wide storefront on 11th Street.
Bright started working there in 1975 stringing tennis rackets while attending Fort Hays State University on a tennis scholarship. He soon moved into a part-time position while studying for a business and accounting degree.
“When I was working here, Duane said ‘Hey you might give some consideration to the fact I will be retiring before too long. At that point I just kind of kept moving up under him. He taught me a lot,” Bright said.
In 1992, he purchased the business when Goodwin retired, and he began to expand. Purchasing a former law office next door doubled the space and allowed Goodwin’s to add screen printing and embroidery services.
“It dawned on me I need to have another spoke in the wheel. I need to have something, say when sporting goods isn’t moving really hot, then I need something to fall back on,” he said.
Shortly after that, a friend, graphic designer Shane Lynch came on board.
“He’s the one who really handled the production side of it for me,” Bright said.
Lynch was with Goodwin’s for about 18 years, but left a couple years ago for a job in Colorado. Taking on the production management on top of running the business was also a factor in Bright’s decision to close, he said.
Fortunately, he’s had another long-time employee, Nicale Ney, as his “ordering guru.”
“She’s worked since college for me,” he said.
Bright isn’t sure exactly when the store will close for good. The fixtures will be sold, as well as the screen printing and embroidery equipment. Since he owns the building, he’s not in rush.
“I’ll have some time to get things all sorted out. I’m sure it will take awhile,” he said, adding the end of February is a possibility.
Although he’s 64, he didn’t call the closing a retirement, but he’s looking forward to some leisure time.
“I’m ready to play some golf and do some other things,” he said.
“It’s been good. It’s been a fabulous business,” he said.