Still in the game

LIHUE — Nyleen Olivas says Sports Authority makes buying what she needs easy.

The Hanapepe woman and her daughter went to the store at Kukui Grove Center to buy a softball helmet Wednesday.

Before Sports Authority opened on Kauai in May 2014, Olivas ordered sports equipment online.

“My kids play baseball, so we’re in here a lot,” she said. “It’s more convenient to come here and see stuff.”

That hasn’t been the case for shoppers nationwide.

Sports Authority Inc., which sells everything from camping gear, basketball hoops and footballs to golf clubs, kayaks and soccer cleats to apparel lines from Nike, Under Armour and Champion, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday.

The Lihue store is not expected to be impacted.

Citing the need to go through financial and operational restructuring, like upgrading stores and updating the website, the corporation plans to close 140 stores and two distribution centers in Denver and Chicago, according to the company’s CEO, Michael Foss.

Sports Authority, which is privately held and based in Englewood, Colorado, has 463 stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico. The store closings are expected to take up to three months.

Sports Authority stores will remain open and run on normal schedules during the Chapter 11 process. The company’s website will continue to function, and the chain plans to honor warranties on items purchased at its stores or online.

“We are taking this action so that we can continue to adapt our business to meet the changing dynamics in the retail industry,” Foss said in a written statement. The executive said the company needs fewer stores as consumers are increasingly shifting to online shopping.

The Lihue location escaped the list of store closures, said Wade Lord, general manager of Kukui Grove Center.

The Lihue location, which comprises 43,000 square feet, employs about 50 people. It is considered one of the anchor stores at Kukui Grove Center.

“We were never worried about the store’s performance, they’ve always done well,” Lord said. “Their inventory is extensive and people can always get what they need.”

None of the Sports Authority Hawaii locations are being closed, he added.

“In general, the Hawaii stores do well,” he said. “On the Mainland, they face competition with other major brands like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods. But in Hawaii, they’re the sole player in the sporting goods category.”

But restructuring stores can get complicated, and Lord said he wonders how that restructuring will affect the Lihue location.

“Radio Shack went through something similar about a year ago, and they’re still with us,” he said. “We anticipate Sports Authority Inc. will be with us through their bankruptcy.”

Sports Authority has been popular since it opened here. Customers cite its wide range of products, convenience and sales as reasons they enjoy shopping there.

In its latest flier, the store offered $120 off Easton baseball bats, 25 percent off baseball gear, $40 off the Asics Gel-Nimbus 17 running shoe and a buy one, get one at 50 percent off deal on Asics socks.

Blake Azra, a Lihue resident who was shopping at Sports Authority Wednesday, said the store has become the go-to place for sports gear for kids.

“Sports Authority is the only sports place on the island that has everything,” he said.

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