Monday, May 2, 2016

Sports Authority's last shot

News item: Sports Authority, once a thriving sporting goods superstore, announced yesterday it's closing all 450 stores. Drowning in $1 billion in debt, the chain -- and its 14,000-plus employees -- are history.

And so is its inventory of snake shot. More on this in a moment.

By BrokenSphere (Own work) [GFDL  CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
More nimble sports merchandisers figured out how to do what Sports Authority couldn't. Dick's Sporting Goods created a somewhat upmarket experience (read: firearms and golf stores-inside-the-store) that Sports Authority couldn't match.

And, if you're a die-hard fan of a particular team, there's no limit to the number of online sellers of numbered jerseys.

No one wants to see less competition in the marketplace. Competition means pricing strategies that can benefit consumers (who may already be saving for their next pair of $200 LeBrons). But a quick visit to Sports Authority's web page shows they offered the same FitBits and Nikes sold everywhere.

Was there a compelling reason to visit Sports Authority?

For me, yes. Although its store in my town closed years ago, it served my need -- or, rather, my dad's -- about 20 years ago. He called from Florida, asking if I could buy him ammunition for his handgun. Something called "snake shot," which he needed for, well, killing snakes on his heavily wooded property.

Few local gun shops in my northeast town carried this particular ammo, but Sports Authority believed all its stores across the U.S. needed this ammo to control the snake population.

I bought boxes of the stuff, shipped it down to Florida, and delighted my dad, who ostensibly went out to dispatch many serpents to oblivion. If he were around today, dad could simply order snake shot online, rather than ask his non-shooter son to track down the odd-looking shells. But it made a good story -- especially the part where I sweated how to send ammunition through the U.S. Mail without arousing suspicion.

Thanks for the memory, Sports Authority.