Sport Chalet to close its doors indefinitely


Photo Courtesy of Sport Chalet website Sport Chalet will soon be closing all 47 stores, and an estimated $50 million in debt.

Photo Courtesy of Sport Chalet website
Sport Chalet will soon be closing all 47 stores, and an estimated $50 million in debt.

After 57 years in business, the sporting goods franchise Sport Chalet will be closing all stores and will stop online sales.

At their peak, Sport Chalet had more than 50 locations in Southern and Northern California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

Currently, the Sport Chalet chain still has all 47 stores open but has completely stopped the e-commerce segment of their operations. 40 of those stores are in California, mainly in the Southern region, three of which are located in San Diego. The closest locations to USD are in Mission Valley and Point Loma.

Sport Chalet has struggled financially for years. In 2007 Sport Chalet had more than $52 million in debt.

Sport Chalet was purchased in 2014 by a Connecticut company named Vestis Retail Group for $17 million. Vestis Retail Group filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, and they are currently liquidating their stores.

Sport Chalet said it would continue to honor gift cards and loyalty rewards, but an internal memo mentioned that the cutoff date is April 29.

However, there has been no mention of a closing date for all brick and mortar stores.

Junior McKenna Ledesma discussed the unfortunate news and expressed her concern for all the people involved with Sport Chalet’s termination.

“My dad’s company does the alarms, cameras, and card access for the entire company,” Ledesma said. “This is a super sad situation for everyone involved in this.”

In 2014, the chain employed 1,200 full-time workers and 1,600 part-timers. The current number of their sales force has not been disclosed.

All Sport Chalet stores will remain open for several more weeks. They are offering customers the opportunity to take advantage of sales.

This is not the only sporting goods store to shut its doors this year. In March, Sports Authority filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time.

Some marketing consultants claim that there just are too many places to buy running shoes, baseball gloves, or tennis racquets. Currently, Big 5, Footlocker, Finish Line, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have the majority of the market share, narrowing down the possibilities for smaller players in the industry.

In addition, showrooming may be a contributing factor. Showrooming, a marketing term, is used in consumer behavior to refer to consumers who shop to obtain their product information and then purchase the chosen project online at a lower price.

Junior Max Cardinale was a Sport Chalet customer and discussed how he has always noticed little nuances that might have led to their financial problems.

“Wow, that really sucks,” Cardinale  said. “I loved Sport Chalet but I feel like they always had financial problems. Sport Chalet had such huge locations, I wondered how they would pay for rent.”   

Retail consultants argue that this is one of the primary reasons sporting stores tend to close. Not many people choose to go to big box retailers when they can go to Amazon or eBay and buy what they need without paying an enormous markup.

Junior Daniel Badaracco did not even know Sport Chalet existed.

“The only time I’ve heard about Sport Chalet is from reading a bumper sticker,” Badaracco said. “It makes sense they would close.”

It could be that Sport Chalet’s inability to dominate other geographic segments caused them to limit their scope of the market. The sporting goods chain is a place many USD students may have grown up with and visited all their lives. However, they may now have to resort to other sporting good stores in San Diego.