Sports Authority to close all stores, including in Park city
May 27, 2016
The Sports Authority in Park City is closing its doors, along with the rest of the onetime sporting goods giant’s locations around the country.
The future of the company has been tenuous since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. The decision to shutter stores nationwide comes after Sports Authority originally attempted to restructure, according to court documents filed May 23 in bankruptcy court in Delaware. When that failed, the company entered into an agreement with liquidators to sell off the remaining inventory in its stores.
Employees at the Park City location, 1780 Park Ave., were confirming to customers Wednesday that the store merchandise would be liquidated. Thursday, large signs in the windows were advertising a storewide sale, with prices marked down up to 30 percent.
The court documents indicated sales at many stores are set to run through August, when the retailer is expected to close for good.
Employees at the Park City store declined to comment.
Ryan Smith, owner of Main Street’s Bahnhof Sport, which specializes in selling winter sports gear, said that Sports Authority shutting down signifies a major disruption in the industry. He said his store does not compete directly with the Park City Sports Authority, but sporting goods merchants all across the country, including those in town, could feel strong ripple effects of the company’s closure.
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"I guess the impacts are yet to be seen," he said. "I mean, the concern is how much liquidated inventory is going to be in the pipeline and on the market and being sold online. When you close 450 shops nationwide, and a lot of those — I don’t know what percentage of which — carry ski stuff that’s now being liquidated, that stuff’s going to end up on the market, on auction sites, and the pricing will be aggressive."
Jack Walzer, general manager of JANS Mountain Outfitters, another Park City retailer, agreed that Sports Authority’s liquidation could have an effect in town — although he anticipates it will likely be limited. He, however, was optimistic that JANS could see a small uptick in customers in the short-term, despite the limited crossover between Sports Authority’s offerings and JANS’ "niche" market of higher-quality goods.
"We may see a little bit more business out of it but not a huge amount," he said.
The primary worry for Walzer is that another sporting goods retailer could move into Sports Authority’s space. Media reports have indicated that companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods could buy some of the Sports Authority stores in the coming months, but no information about the Park City location has been made public.
Sports Authority’s corporate office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
"If it is a higher-end-type retailer that potentially carries the same product that we do, then we have to go back and see if we need to readjust our orders for the winter," Walzer said, adding that he hasn’t heard anything about the future of the Sports Authority space.
To Smith, Sports Authority’s demise represents another blow to an already-weakened sporting goods industry. Plentiful snow in Utah and much of the West buoyed sales in Park City — including at Smith’s shop — but warm weather in large swaths of the country, such as the Midwest and East Coast, led to slow sales of winter sports gear in those areas, he said.
"You have a huge density of consumers, especially for winter products — it just didn’t get very cold and didn’t have much of a winter there," he said. "That is an exacerbating issue to what’s going to happen now with the liquidated goods from Sports Authority."
Smith acknowledged that the disappearance of a retailer with Sports Authority’s footprint could be a boon for his store and other Park City retailers in the future. But turbulence in the near term could linger for a couple of years.
"It’s just something we have to be aware of, is how I would term it," he said. "We’ve been aware of it, we knew this was going to happen. There’s a lot of hurt out there brought on by the lack of winter and people folding, which just piles on."