IamA former employee of the now extinct Sports Authority AMA!
My short bio: Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of my former company. I worked for 2 1/2 years as a merchandiser, salesperson, and manager at a small town Sports Authority. I endured to the very end and was there to the very last day. Ask me anything about the bad customers, good customers, great coworkers, terrible coworkers, what it was like working for a bankrupt company that sold all of its assets to a group of liquidators, or anything about sporting goods, because I still have 2+ years of useless information still floating around in my head. My Proof: Here is me using the back room to create a new, cross-sport phenomena. This is part of a series of snapchats I took on a particularly slow night. Finally, these are the coworkers who were with me to the very end.
Yeah if you were nice to us we basically would do crap like that. Assholes got no leeway though.
Aw man, the only discount card I have on my keychain is a Sports Authority scanner.
Anyway, was there any evidence that the company was headed down that you noticed from your own store?
Our own store actually did quite well. We had consistently improving numbers and were managed pretty good on a small level. Our building's lease was super cheap and we were the only decent sporting goods store in an area that included around 7 high schools. Not to toot my own horn but we had pretty good sales. It was every other store in the company that sucked. We did nothing wrong ;)
You wouldn't happen to be the Scranton branch would you?
I was a salesman at a dying company. So just call me Jim. Couldn't find my Pam though..... damn you Roy!!!
How many employees hung on until the end and how many bolted right away for other jobs? I imagine it was a morale killer when the announcement was made?
It was probably a split down the middle between the two options. A lot of us were actually college students, so hanging on to the end and then going back to school wasn't a bad option. The managers were also promised severance so they stayed on. Until they found out how little it was going to be. After that, they immediately looked for new jobs and the manager positions basically became a revolving door.
Did employee discounts change during this process?
They completely took away our employee discount about two weeks after announcing the liquidation. We had a cost+15% discount (which usually ended up being around 50% off) so we bought everything we REALLY wanted on that last day we had the discount. After that we waited until prices dropped to a really low amount to buy stuff again.
Did they go full liquidation like Circuit City? Anything could be bought? I was in the store in 2009 when it was closing and the guy bought the actual cash register from the place.
Yup. They cleared out anything and everything. We sold the cash registers, employee lockers, pallet iron in the back, pallet jacks, the shelving and peg board, even the freaking flooring from the fitness sections.
Cost+15%=50%off I think I found your problem
I could be wrong, but I think that /u/twelvegage96 is saying that if the store had an item that was bought for $20 from a supplier (the store's cost), and wanted to sell to customers for $40 normally, that the store would let the employees have it for what it cost them to buy it ($20), plus another 15% of that cost ($3 in this example), for a total of $23, which in this example comes out to almost 50% off what it would have sold for normally ($40).
I imagine only desperate applicants would accept a manager job that already has an expiration date in a few months.
We just promoted from within. There was a line of seniority and you just moved up the ladder every time someone quit. I was close to store manager by the end. I honestly just wanted the job for a day just to put it on my resume
Still put it on. What are they gonna do, call?
.... good point
Were you one of the college students?
When the bankruptcy was announced, did the employees at your store start taking "liberties" with the sales items?
I.e. 5 finger discounts?
Not that I know of. There was a rather large theft scandal a few months before the bankruptcy, but that wasn't related.
However, there was a certain room in the back that gathered a lot of items that were saved until discount prices reached 90-95% off.......
I uh... Like your name there bud.
Right back atcha..... bud
Not a question regarding your post, but why the name? I'm curious now.
My name is Gage. And I made the username for Xbox live when I was 12...... and I was born in 96. Inventive. I know.
Happy 21st fellow '96
Thank you! (In about 20 days but I appreciate it :) )
do you think your land kayaking and other antics like 8' dunking contests, butt darts, etc. led to the demise of Sports Authority?
I accept full responsibility for the demise of Sports Authority. Although if my dream of seeing land kayaking in the olympics is realized, I will give Sports Authority an honorary advertising spot.
It was hubris, then, what killed the Authority of Sports.
We flew too close to the sun
Summer or winter?
Did you ever actually have any authority over sports?
More like a slight guidance.
You don't happen to have any spare miniature tent replicas lying around, do you?
Nope. Some lady bought all of ours for her cats.
Why did SA never have anything? I remember going into those stores well before the bankruptcy and they were always poorly stocked with huge gaps everywhere. Multiple locations, same experience.
At least in my store the experience was that they didn't ship us what we needed. We became overstocked on a few things while other things we didn't have at all. We sold A LOT of football gear, but never had anything in the popular sizes. We tried to make due as best as we could, but I'm not sure they had any system in their shopping and stocking methods.
What's your main opinion as to why Sports Authority went bankrupt?
They refused to catch up with the times. Sporting goods is an increasingly online business, (especially shoes and clothing), and the company failed to realize that. Their website was trash, and they banked on brick and mortar stores maintaining a strong presence. Spending millions of dollars on naming rights to Bronco stadium was also a poor decision.
What was the worst/rudest customer you've ever served (for lack of a better word)?
Too many to count.
The rudest was probably the woman that took a giant pile of clothes into the dressing room, peed on them, then left the soggy mess on the floor for us to clean up.
When our store announced the closing I had a few customers that ended up screaming at me over conflicts in prices. One woman in particular demanded that our $150 pitching machine be marked down to $10 because that was the shelf that she found it on. And she also wanted the 20% off on top of that. When I politely told her that in the mess that was bankruptcy it was impossible to keep everything organized and on correct shelves, she did her best to go to my superiors and get me fired.
as if you weren't already going to be out of a job anyway, lmao
Yeah I'm not sure a lot of people realized the liquidation company wasn't going to fire me for saving them a few dollars.
Shit, is this what retail's gonna be like? I'm only 15 and getting a job somewhere soon. I'm fucked
Yeah retail and food will suck for you. But it's something that I honestly and truly believe every person should work for at least a year of their life. If not more. But if you find somewhere with some good coworkers you can usually survive.
Did anyone have sex in the changing rooms?
Not that I know of. I'm pretty sure those guys only went in with their girlfriends to help them pick out outfits.... right?!?!
Least favorite thing about working there other than that it went out of business?
Customers that expected to be treated like royalty. If you were nice and pleasant I loved helping you with whatever you needed and making sure you got the best deals possible. If you walked in, all entitled and such, and demanded sale prices and items that we didn't have in stock, that's when you got on my bad side.
How did the people/shopping approach change during that time? I know I hadn't been to the store in many years but dropped by to see if there were any great deals.
That's practically what everyone else did. We got a lot more foot traffic simply because of the massive signs, but people didn't realize that for the first month or so, deals weren't all that great. Also some people bought WAY more than they needed simply because things were 15% off. The people themselves also became more extreme on both sides of the spectrum. The nice ones treated us even better and with more sympathy because we were losing our jobs, while the raunchy ones made sure we knew that they didn't care. They just wanted to save a few bucks.
Do you ever wonder if you could have singlehandedly saved the company if you were a better salesperson?
Sometimes I wonder if I spent more time selling jock straps and shoe deodorizers, could I have risen all the way to CEO and put this company on a different path? I will never know. But maybe if I hadn't spent so many hours playing butt ball in the back room and trying out our new shoes........ maybe.
Ok, follow up question: what is butt ball? Is it NSFW?
Butt ball. Wall ball. I'm not sure what anybody else calls it. I thought everybody has played it at least once through their elementary and middle school careers.
You mean "asses up" right? Throw a ball against a wall of someone else catches it or you drop it then you get sent up against the wall for the firing squad.
Yeah! Exactly. I'm not sure what everyone else called it. But I've known it as butt ball or wall ball.
What type of job are you looking for now?
I am currently employed at Walmart! Enough content there for another AMA..... but I am also going to school full time as well. Hoping that gets me a better job.
Didn't Dick's buy Sports Authority?
They bought a few specific locations to take over and then bought our loyalty program information so they could send emails to our emailing list.
Who were some of the worst people you had to work with after the bankruptcy was announced?
He was the area supervisor from the liquidation company. And boy oh boy was he a character.
He was hell bent on making sure the store was cleaned out of EVERYTHING. He would go on dumpster rampages where he would just start throwing things away if he didn't think we needed them. And if we did "need" them he would put a price tag on them and put them on the floor. If I left anything unattended for more than 30 seconds I would know it would end up in the dumpster or on a shelf marked for sale. Like my water jug. Or my jacket. Or my radio.
I bet he even tried to take your car to the junkyard when you were in the john.
Probably. He was.... an interesting man. On the last day there was one guy in the store and he sold everything that was still in the store to him for $100 flat.
Cash, under the table into Jeff's pocket? Or was he a company man till the end?
Nope that was to his liquidation company.
Whoa. What did the guy end up getting?
Mostly football pad inserts, random golf accessories and A LOT of crappy moccasins.
Were there any signs leading up to the closing of the franchise? Also, IamA current employee of Dick's Sporting Goods. AMA!
We knew we were in a bad position financially, but as lower level employees they never let on to how bad the situation actually was. I remember it was on a Sunday when a customer came in and asked us if the rumors of bankruptcy were true. We all freaked out and spent the rest of the day on the computer analyzing the article Forbes had put out that day detailing how Sports Authority was considering selling the company. We found out from a customer and Forbes before our superiors told us anything. Also, our poor cashier spent that day alone at the front of the stope while we dreamed of escaping our retail hellhole in the back.
What's the best way to get a discount at a sporting goods store that might not be immediately obvious? Were there any behind the scenes rules that I could implement and save some hard earned cash?
I'm not sure how other stores work so I can give you what advice I have. A lot of sporting magazines had coupons for our store that stacked on top of other coupons that we would email out, so look for stuff like that. Also, clearance and outlet prices, especially online, are totally worth it. Especially with shoes where a one year model difference doesn't make too much of a difference in ability. You can get a shoe for $70 that is basically the same shoe they are selling for $150. (Shoes are one thing I recommend going high end on) And asking the cashier or sales associate if there are any deals going on right now is always good. We would sometimes have 20% off coupons taped to the register because they were emailed out that day. So if you aren't part of the email list, but just ask someone you can usually get the discount.
In the absence of your former employer, who now holds the title of being the authority on sports?
What a coincidence! Another fellow Idahoan. I was surprised when I opened this, because I too worked at Sports Authority at this exact location back in 2009. Loved working there honestly. You know something funny? I saw Greg at a baseball game about 1 month before the bankruptcy was announced and I had heard that SA was having problems so I asked him if he was worried. He told me absolutely not and that his job was safe and that SA location was the top grossing in the region and then one month later and bam! Bankruptcy!
I hated selling the warranty plans there, absolute garbage, and think that and the managers at stores is why they went out of business. Idk about now but when I worked there, there were 4 managers plus head store manager, when realistically they would be fine with 3.
Becca is the only other person in the picture besides Greg that was there when I worked there. The rest are all new faces. Good luck to your future employment and school.
Hey! Weird coincidence.
Why were your going out of business sales so lame? I went into a Sports Authority while they were trying to liquidate inventory and seriously the best they could do was like 10%-20% off already inflated prices. Did they ever actually discount stuff enough to get it sold?
That was a common complaint. The liquidation company's goal was to make back the money they used to buy Sports Authority. I think they bought all the assets for 101% of their worth. So they needed to make that back. So they started off with really crappy discounts. But yes, in the end, they got all the way down to 95% off. By then nothing was left. At least in the two stores I was working at.
I too worked at TSA! got fired though long before the company went bankrupt due to those damn rewards cards. We were actually threatened with our jobs if not enough accounts were made. Was that the case in your store? What was your favorite song to hear?
Oh jeez we were never threatened with our jobs. Unless you were a cashier. You needed at least 25% to survive as a cashier. And to get promoted to senior sales you needed 40%. So I got 40%, got promoted, and then my numbers dive bombed again.
ESPN radio on Sundays. Sports Authority radio was the worst thing in the world.
40%?? As in 2 out of every 5 people you had to sign up for a rewards card?
What non-major sport had some of the most die-hard fans/players? Are Squash players as dedicated as the guys at my gym seem to make it?
Pickleball actually. If an elderly couple walked in there was probably a 50% chance they would ask about pickleball. They were always extremely disappointed when I admitted we had nothing for them.
Alas, Squash players are undoubtably the most undedicated sports players I've ever met.
If you could have renamed Sports Authority, what would you have named it instead?
Um. Shorts Authority?
I had no idea SA went out of business. I went there a lot but they were always kind of expensive.
Is Wal-Mart better or worse for you as an employee?
It's a wash. Management and coworkers are worse, but the customers and pay are better.
I'm actually shocked to hear Walmart pays better.
They do surprisingly. I started at $8.20 at SA and started at $11.50 at Walmart
Well. We had a $600 golf club go for $0 because it got stolen after the announcement of bankruptcy. We got a little too relaxed in asset protection.
Can we breed you to create more Sports Authorities?
If you can find a female Sports Authority. It's a recessive gene.
What happens to all the merchandise once the store is closed?
It was all gone, either shipped to stores that lasted a bit longer (in the case of one store I relocated to for two weeks to help them close a little earlier) or in the case of my main store we simply sold every piece of merchandise.
I still had a free tune-up on my bike left when they closed. Will you tune up my bike for me?
Sure! I was terrible at bike stuff. But I'll give it my best shot.
So, are you trying to start a new business? What have been your plans since being... fired(?) or whatever you would call a situation like this?
Going to school and working more retail currently. Although the old Sports Authority building is still up for lease and the rent is super cheap. And no new sports stores have popped up in the area. So there is a market. Maybe I start a new sports authority!
Name it Twelvegage96 Sports Company
Why can't I just walk into a sporting goods store and buy a freaking javelin?
The Geneva Convention
Would you rather fight 1 horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?
100 duck sized horses.
You have clearly never fought the Zerg
Dude, what was up with the "ECP's"? I used to work for SA and realized what a shit show it was when I got a mouthful for not pushing it on a $20 basketball... was not suprised when I heard they went under and shamelessly LOL'D
Yeah they pushed 'em hard. I understand on bigger ticket items, but as a salesman I had to pitch them on a stop watch that cost $10.... it sucked.
Is this a case by case basis? The one by my house seems to still be going strong.
........ it was a company wide bankruptcy so it curious as to what is going on there? Maybe nobody told them about it.
Did not know they went out of business. I realize that now that one near me has been long gone. Is it because of competition like dicks sporting goods ??
Dick's and buying products directly from the brands online put us out of business.
When I went in towards the end it seemed like none of the employees gave a fuck which was awesome haha. I got a brand new Taylor made sand wedge and hat that had no price tags on them for like $11 because the kid at the register just scanned two $5 items near the register and said "what are they gonna do fire me?" Guy was my hero.
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