Corporate sports stores in this area are taking a hit.
‘Sports Authority’ declared bankruptcy earlier this year.
Now corporate officials are considering shutting down all of their stores.
We spoke to the local manager of the 23rd street store in Panama City, who told us they will remain open.
That’s not the case for the local Edwin Watts Golf store in Panama City Beach.
According to it’s corporate offices, that store closed two weeks ago.
These developments may mean fewer choices for golfers and other sports lovers.
But it doesn’t mean they’re completely out of local options.
“As of just a couple of weeks ago, we are the only full service golf shop in bay county. You might even have to go as far as Tallahassee, Destin, and Dothan to find a shop like ours, ” said ‘Emerald Coast Bay Center’ co-owner Stanton Matthews.
Although his Panama City Beach shop is small, Matthews says he’s enjoys a solid customer base.
“It’s really rare for a shop of our size and just being kind of a mom and pops to even carry everything that we carry with all of our fitting carts and getting big name manufacturers on a small scale so we’re real proud of that,” said Stanton.
He says the bigger businesses try to meet the needs of the tourists, but that’s where the problem lies.
“I think that’s why it’s been harder for the bigger companies that have to do bigger volumes, and bigger numbers to stay in this to make it worthwhile is very difficult in this area,” said Stanton.
Newly elected Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kristopher McLane also agrees that businesses selling to tourists are risky.
“I know with some of the businesses rely on all are the tourists. I know a longer season would be able to offer and let their employees stay employed rather than just a season,” said McLane.
McLane says it takes all local agencies to help these businesses.
“The panama city beach chamber, the EDA, the city, and the CBB that’s all our jobs to work together our area more of a year round destination,” said McLane.
This month happens to also be “National Small Business Month”.
‘Emerald Coast Golf Center’ has been in business for six years.
They’ve been at their current location on Back Beach Road for three of those.