Sport Chalet announced on Saturday that it is closing all of its stores and has stopped selling goods online.
• PHOTOS: Sport Chalet going out of business
“While our online store is no longer available, all Sport Chalet stores will remain open for several weeks, offering customers the opportunity to use their remaining rewards and gift cards, and to take advantage of great sales,” the La Cañada Flintridge-born sporting goods chain announced Saturday on its website. “Thank you for your loyalty over the years. We hope to see you at our store closing sales.”
Greater Los Angeles area locations include Burbank, Arcadia, Torrance, Long Beach, Glendora and La Cañada.
Inland area locations include Chino, Jurupa Valley, Menifee, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside and Redlands. There is also a Sport Chalet distribution Center in Ontario.
In Long Beach, Geoff McNiel, a 41, of Lakewood said he’s been coming to the Sport Chalet at 7440 E. Carson St. for years and that it was his preferred athletics supply store.
“Both my kids are in sports and we bought a lot of their equipment here,” McNiel said. “I’m a little bummed. There’s such a large selection. Sports Authority [can’t compare]. I’ve been to Dick’s [Sporting Goods]. I don’t care for Dick’s.”
Jesse Zarate, 42, of Whittier, said he came by Saturday morning to see how good the sale was.
“It limits our options,” Zarate said, of the closing.
“I like this store because of the variety,” said Teresa Snyder, 47, of Long Beach. “This is a one stop shop. I’ll be sad to see it go.”
Inside the store a steady stream of people browsed through offerings, some buying sports equipment and others leaving with camping supplies or apparel.
Sport Chalet was founded in 1959 by Norbert J. Olberz, with its first store in La Cañada Flintridge, where it remained headquartered for the next several decades.
What began as one specialty sporting goods location expanded into a string of about 50 full-service sporting goods stores across the Southland, and eventually Northern California, Arizona and Nevada and Utah.
The company went public in 1992.
Connecticut-based Vestis Retail Group acquired Sport Chalet in 2014 for about $17 million. Sport Chalet had about $52.5 million in debt at the time and hadn’t turned a profit in years.
The company operates 13 stores in Los Angeles County, seven stores in Orange County, four in San Diego County, three in Riverside County, three in San Bernardino County and three in Ventura County.
Customers with gift cards, rewards certificates and store credits are asked to use them at a Sport Chalet location before April 29. Those unable to visit a Sport Chalet before April 29 may transfer gift car balances to another gift car from one of Sport Chalet’s sister stores, Eastern Mountain Sports or Bob’s Stores through July 29, according to the Sport Chalet statement.
“Customers who are unable to visit us before this date are invited to transfer gift card balances to a gift card from one of our sister stores, Eastern Mountain Sports or Bob’s Stores through July 29th, 2016,” the statement says.
Customers may transfer their balances buy contacting customer service at 888-801-9162. Customers who brought equipment in for repairs are also asked to pick up their items on or before April 29.
Business was brisk Saturday at the location inside the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia, where signs announced 10 percent discounts due to “Store Closing,”
Jared Summerell, 38, of Glendora stopped in on his way to see a movie with his daughter. He had not yet learned the chain was going out of business.
He said he was surprised to see the entire chain announce it was closing so abruptly, rather than closing some locations or otherwise reorganizing.
“Usually, you hear that a business is struggling,” he said.
Summerell noted that while the Arcadia store generally seemed busy, his hometown Sport Chalet in Glendora often appeared slow, or even empty. He added that the closure seemed a sign of the times.
“With online shopping, I feel like the big box, one-place-for-everything stores are struggling,” Summerell said.
After hearing about the planned closure Saturday morning, Matt Hessemer of Ontario headed to the Arcadia store to check out deals on fishing gear.
Hessemer said he also suspected online shopping played a role in Sport Chalet’s demise. But he said he enjoyed being able to browse through a brick-and-mortar store.
Hessemer said he was saddened both by the loss of jobs, and the loss of a successful, locally-born business.
“It’s a local store,” he said. “That makes it sadder.”
But not everyone was saddened to see the longtime chain fold.
At the doomed Sports Chalet inside a busy Burbank Towne Center mall, a dozen customers lined up to ring up basketballs, golf balls and yard games. Signs everywhere declared 10 percent off. And all sales final.
Sylvia Vincent and her 9-year-old daughter Riley, who’d bought nothing, weren’t among them.
“Ten percent is nothing,” said Vincent, 52, of Burbank, walking from the emporium. “Haven’t bought anything at Sport Chalet in a long time. It’s just too pricey, especially when you’ve got Walmart.
“And I’m from La Crescenta. I grew up with it (the original Sport Chalet). I won’t miss it.”
Al Berkompas of Redlands arrived at Sport Chalet in the Citrus Plaza shopping center in his hometown Saturday looking to spend a gift card he got for Christmas. He came up empty-handed but was surprised to discover the store was closing.
“I’m interested in a lot of sports, but there was nothing inside that I need,” he said. “I thought maybe I’ll give (the gift card) to my son. He’d probably make better use of it.”
Robert Marin of Colton learned the news by email, so he made the trek to the store’s Citrus Plaza location to buy some softball, footb
all and other sports gear for his children.
“It’s a bummer. I’ll probably go back to Big 5 (Sporting Goods), unfortunately. Here, they’ve got cheap prices and I would have figured they get more business here. I guess not.”
— Staff writers Brian Day, Greg Yee, Dana Bartholomew and Kristina Hernandez as well as the Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.