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Owners Behind City Sports Revival Say E-Commerce First, Brick-And-Mortar Later


A popular Boston-based sporting goods retailer that went out of business in 2015 has returned as an online store.

Brent and Blake Sonnek-Schmelz of Eatontown, New Jersey, bought the rights to the City Sports brand and customer lists after the original company shuttered. They are opening a pop-up store at the Boston Triathlon as a low-key start to the revival, the Boston Globe reports

Adidas and New Balance are among the athletic goods suppliers that have returned to the website, which launched in fall 2016. Brent Sonnek-Schmelz said the company is searching for potential brick-and-mortar locations in Boston, Philadelphia and New York, but they are in no rush to open. High rents prevail in urban neighborhoods where the company looks to open to stay true to its name. He hopes to have a temporary store in Boston open by spring 2018 and a permanent one by the end of that year. 

“We’re brick-and-mortar people,” he told the Globe. “Our family has been in retail for several generations. I believe in storefronts. I think they’re vital to main streets and downtowns.”

The brothers plan to run their version of City Sports differently from its previous owners. A subsidiary of the Highland Capital Partners investment firm bought an 80% stake in the company in 2008 and had plans for as many as 300 stores across the United States. Its aggressive expansion into the suburbs, where it faced increased competition, is seen as the company’s downfall. The Sonnek-Schmelz brothers plan to only open smaller stores under 5K SF and stick to urban neighborhoods. 

“It was called City Sports,” Brent Sonnek-Schmelz said. "It wasn’t called Suburb Sports."

Related Topics: City Sports