STOW -- David Underwood is closing his longtime sporting goods store at the end of January, but he's not going out of business.
The owner of Stow Sports and Promotions is simply adapting to changing conditions in the retail industry and taking his business mostly into the digital realm.
"The business, the model, has changed," said Underwood. "The model of having store hours and purchasing a half million dollars worth of merchandise and second guessing what customers want has changed."
Stow Sports and Promotions has been in Fishcreek Plaza, just a little north of Kent Road and the Acme grocery store, since Underwood first opened his door in 1987. He also built and still owns the plaza and plans on continuing to operate Stow Sports and Promotions in that location.
The store is conducting a liquidation sale leading up to a Feb. 1 target date to close the store and have a revamped website up and running. Not only is merchandise being sold, but so are store fixtures, furniture and equipment.
Products will then be sold via the website. Underwood said the store's three employees will remain on staff as the business gives more focus to custom and specially products.
"Our team, varsity jacket, spirit group, corporate and specialty customers will be better served," says a letter handed out to customers to explain the changes.
Stow Sports and Promotions currently sells a wide variety of athletic apparel, shoes, equipment, as well as corporate clothing, promotional products, school jackets and custom team uniforms. Once the store closes, fittings for custom items will be by appointment only.
Underwood said that smaller specialty retailers in particular need to consider making changes to survive, especially as traditional retailers close stores, non-traditional retailers like Amazon gain traction and manufacturers of sporting goods are more reluctant to deal with smaller stores.
"It's just a changing dynamic when it comes to some retail businesses," said Underwood.
Underwood's history in Stow goes back much further than his business does. As a child, he moved to the city with his family 1963 and graduated from Stow High School, where he did track and field and played basketball, in 1972.
Underwood said his best memories owning Stow Sports and Promotions involve local sports teams, including the line of Bulldogs fans going out the door, waiting to buy T-shirts, when the boys basketball team's successes gained national attention in the early 1990s. Underwood said his happiness over that was much more than just profit.
"I'm a Bulldog. I always will be," he said.
Go to http://www.stowsportscenter.com or call 330-673-8884 for more information about Stow Sports and Promotions.
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