Sports Chalet Shutdown Hits 3 SBC Stores & Warehouse

Sports Chalet, a sporting goods chain with 55 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, including three in San Bernardino County and a distribution center in Ontario, is shutting all of its stores as of April 29.
A sporting and recreational specialty store that had blazed an enviable trail for over five decades, the chain was undone by it inability to attract disposable income in an increasingly competitive market that must appeal to a shrinking middle class. Founded on April 1, 1959 by Norbert Olberz and his wife Irene, who took out a $5,000 loan from a lending institution and more from relatives and prospective employees, the couple established what was originally a ski and tennis shop in La Cañada Flintridge near the mouth of the Angeles Crest Highway.
Within a few years, Sport Chalet expanded its stock lines to cater to other higher end sporting pursuits, and the Olberzes offered scuba, mountain-climbing and spelunking gear. With the surfing craze of the early 1960s, the store sold longboards and wetsuits.
The Olberzes expanded the Sport Chalet in La Cañada at its original Foothill Boulevard location in stages, converting a former grocery store into a full-line sporting goods store, then transforming a one-time furniture store into a ski shop. Norbert Olberz located a ski rental shop into a former filling station and then opened a separate golf store down the street.
Twenty-two years after opening their first store, the Olberzes established the second Sport Chalet in Huntington Beach. Over the next six years, the chain grew rapidly, with branches throughout Southern California. In 1992, Sport Chalet went public, being traded on the NASDAQ exchange. In 2011, Norbert Olberz died. In 2014, the company, which was burdened by $52.4 million in debt, was purchased by Connecticut-based Vestis Retail Group, a division of the private equity firm Versa Capital Management. Sport Chalet continued to lose money and Vestis on April 16 pulled the plug, announcing the company had discontinued on-line sales and would close all stores by today, April 29, 2016.

Leave a Reply