Shoes and goodbyes

Chico Sports LTD turns 30; and two local ventures are gone

Last weekend I found myself approaching an important milestone: buying my first pair of hiking shoes. “Outdoorsy” is not an adjective that anyone would use to describe me, but like all great husbands, mine is pushing me outside my comfort zone and our summer vacation this year will include a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Since most of my footwear involves high heels and wedges, we headed out to shop for some more practical shoes for the occasion.

I ended up with a pair of sturdy Salomons from Chico Sports LTD—which I found out also is celebrating a milestone this month, the store's 30th anniversary. Owner Matt Smith, an outgoing and affable man, was actually in the store while I was there and helped pick out my shoes.

Smith came to Chico three decades ago to open the store, which he described as a “little hole in the wall.” Chico Sports LTD has outgrown its retail space several times—making its way from a small space downtown next to where Peet's Coffee & Tea currently is, to the old Oser's Building (now the Grand View Building) to its current home in the spacious Safeway shopping center on Mangrove Avenue that now has more than 20 employees.

The store's wide selection of products is impressive, meeting both the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and outdoor “tolerators” like myself. Plus, the staff is so friendly. As a side note, a few weeks back, I saw a Facebook post from Sports LTD that let Mangrove shopping center visitors know that there have been numerous bike thefts from racks in the area. Sports LTD encouraged cyclists to chain their bikes inside the store on an indoor rack, even if they're shopping at Safeway or another nearby store. What a neat way for the business to step up and meet a simple, yet practical community concern.

Congrats to Sports LTD and here's looking to another 30 years of success.

A few updates. The day that my last column about Jake Wade's Well Made Kickstarter campaign was published, the campaign was canceled, even though it had reached 65 percent of its funding goal, with plenty of time left to secure the rest. Jake Wade has been unreachable, though I was able to get in touch with Marc Nemanic, executive director for 3CORE, who originally made me aware of Wade and his Fastback Jacket project. Nemanic said he hasn't heard any specific reason as to why the campaign, and Wade's business venture, was abandoned, but he did say Wade has left the area. With the way Kickstarter campaigns work, backers only have to pay if the goal is met, so no one is on the hook to fulfill their pledge.

Speaking of a loss of local business, Lyon Books officially closed its doors on Saturday (May 23). Co-owner Heather Lyon announced in April that she was closing up shop after 12 years of serving Chico. This leaves a hole in the downtown landscape, but I'll keep my eyes on that prime location in the weeks and months to come.