Sporting good stores 80s and 90s?

HBK4life

Professional
Every once in a while I come across pictures people have from the 80s of Star Wars toys from the toy section of various toys. Does anyone have pictures of the same type only with tennis gear? I remember being able to go to a store and see a Donnay Pro 1 or Pro Staff 85 among others. Anyone have pictures like this or know where some are? I’d love to take a trip down memory lane. When I go into a store now I’d be lucky to see any tennis equipment at all. And what stores have now is mostly for people that saw some tennis on tv and decided to buy some rackets and go out and give it a try.
 

dak95_00

Hall of Fame
I wish I had a pic, but my family had a Wilson T2000 from Herman's World of Sporting Goods. "Herman's, we are sports!"
I remember Herman's. We had them in Columbus, Oh.

I used to love walking in larger sporting goods stores and handling the racquets. It was probably 21 years ago I went into a Champs Sports store that was an outlet store. They had a wall of Wilson Pro Staff Classic 6.1 racquets and were selling them at something ridiculously cheap; maybe $40/racquet. If I'd only had the money back then that I have today.....
 

Tar Heel Tennis

Professional
Late 70s, early 80s...The Wedge and Racket on Franklin St in Chapel Hill, NC. A wall of rackets on the right as you walk in. I was always drawn to the stack of Donnay Borg Pros...those and the Head Vilas frames were a staggering$70, whereas the mere standard frames were around$50.

An added bonus was that the only employee other than the owner was a celebrity in my eyes (though still a level or two below the UNC basketball players I would bump into occasionally) - Jay Pulliam, a member of the varsity tennis team.
 

retrowagen

Hall of Fame
Growing up in Northern California in the 1980’s, the two chain stores that I lurked in were Big 5, and later, Copeland’s.

A highlight of getting the Sunday newspaper (remember those?!) was the full-color, multi-page Big 5 ad, which used to show several different models of racquets on sale that week. Around 1982-1984, their inventory of various Donnay models, mostly wood containing, was stupefying! There was a distinct smell of leather and paint that radiated from the racquet aisle; I will never forget it.

This chain is still in business, but stopped taking the tennis market seriously around 1986. It’s a shambles now.

Copeland’s appeared in the mid-80’s, and stocked some really nice frames from the big mainstream manufacturers, until they too stopped taking tennis seriously. At times, though, they would blow out discontinued models at amazing prices... For a while in 1989, they sold rows of unstrung Head Prestige Pros for $60 each!

My favorite shops were always the mom-and-pop ski & tennis pro shops. Looking for the outdated, weird stuff on clearance was an acute joy. If I could bottle that magical mixture of curiosity, hope, and anticipation I felt when entering those places, and share it with everyone, the world would be a vastly better place.
 
Last edited:

HBK4life

Professional
I went to MC sports a lot to look at rackets and dream. My gf doesn’t understand why I buy these used rackets from the 90s and just hit with them and not play with them. I’m sure many of you posters do though.
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
I was a Red Shirt(dept manager) for Team Sports(includes tennis) at Sports Authority back in '92. Dozens of frames/rackets on the wall. Sold the heck out of them and our contract stringer was making a fair bit more money than I was!!! We didn't have exotics, just the easy sellers. and I remember getting a clearance deal on the HEAD Genesis that we could sell for $89...went through them in a flash!!! This was back when rackets were still interesting.
 

Abel

New User
Growing up in Northern California in the 1980’s, the two chain stores that I lurked in were Big 5, and later, Copeland’s.

A highlight of getting the Sunday newspaper (remember those?!) was the full-color, multi-page Big 5 ad, which used to show several different models of racquets on sale that week. Around 1982-1984, their inventory of various Donnay models, mostly wood containing, was stupefying! There was a distinct smell of leather and paint that radiated from the racquet aisle; I will never forget it.

This chain is still in business, but stopped taking the tennis market seriously around 1986. It’s a shambles now.

Copeland’s appeared in the mid-80’s, and stocked some really nice frames from the big mainstream manufacturers, until they too stopped taking tennis seriously. At times, though, they would blow out discontinued models at amazing prices... For a while in 1989, they sold rows of unstrung Head Prestige Pros for $60 each!

My favorite shops were always the mom-and-pop ski & tennis pro shops. Looking for the outdated, weird stuff on clearance was an acute joy. If I could bottle that magical mixture of curiosity, hope, and anticipation I felt when entering those places, and share it with everyone, the world would be a vastly better place.
man you really brought me back with copelands!! I remember looking at the wall thinking all the new stuff was so expensive! I got my first cts approach there when it first came out. My favorite was all the shoes on the tables for sale. I would buy air jordans in multiple colors for $20. Those were the good days!!
 

Frankc

Professional
Good thread ... great times - enjoyed the small shops then. Walking into a small pro shop with the single stringing machine in view was very much fun. One shop that stood out for me was a very small tennis shop stuck in a downtown area. Just in one of those very small, narrow leases. Single person shop - mostly stringing and accessories. He had lengths of used natural gut hanging that was from old string jobs. That was when patches (and small frames) were still a way to go... additionally, he would offer a full "new" gut job from those lengths. Great guy... very special...
 

aussie

Professional
I live in Australia but it's probably the same in the USA but the most interesting sports stores are in the smaller country towns. In those smaller towns you get the mom and dad owned stores, not the big national chains situated in the big cities.

Great thing about those country stores is that they often carry older stock which hasn't moved at bargain prices. Admittedly tennis gear these days isn't stocked near as much as in the past as the popularity of tennis has fallen but you never know what you'll find.

Recently went to Dalby, a town of around 15,000 located in Queensland and found something I'd struggled to locate in the big city sport stores. An all white tennis polo shirt - no colours, pin stripes etc, just white with the brand logo. Just one on the rack, my size and the old mom owner gave me a sizable discount just because I took the time to chat to her about the shop, tennis and things in general.

Just took me back to a time in my youth when tennis was big and my excitement at going into sports stores was even bigger.
 

HBK4life

Professional
Just watched an episode of Seinfeld. There was a scene in a pro shop. Bunch of rackets behind the counter. I spotted a pro staff 6.1 and I think some pro staff 110s. I think some Hammers? Picture of Sampras back there. Memories.
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
I grew up in a tourist coastal town in the mid-to-late 70s and there was a great sports store in town. It was the best!

It had old hardwood floors. They had a limited selection in a particular item but what they had in that particular item was the best made. If you wanted a surf board they had 3 different brands/models but they were the best. If you wanted a bike it was the same with several models all top notch. The guys knew what they were doing.

I still have my Rawlings Mike Schmidt baseball Mitt purchased from that store. My wife had it re-laced two years ago for me for Father's Day.

For tennis they had a limited selection of racquets and a room in the back that you could hit with a ball machine. it was a great store. Too bad it is long gone.
 

mixtape

Rookie
I used to go to Sport Chalet around 1987-1995 to get my racquets restrung and check out new racquets.
Before 87, I would see racquets at stores like BEST, Big 5, and Sears sporting good section.
 

vandre

Hall of Fame
they didn't have racquets but the mom and pop sporting goods store in my hometown always had the 80s and 90s tennis nikes (until i showed up and bought them)....ooooohhhhh....new shoe smell..........
 

Turbo-87

Legend
Just watched an episode of Seinfeld. There was a scene in a pro shop. Bunch of rackets behind the counter. I spotted a pro staff 6.1 and I think some pro staff 110s. I think some Hammers? Picture of Sampras back there. Memories.
What was the name of the tennis racquet that Elaine was borrowing from Mr. Pitt in that episode? Bruline?
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
In the 1990s when I lived there, Sport Mart in Chicago had a whole range of "real" frames. It was 4 or 5 stories (well the downtown store anyway) and amazing. This is a great topic. Yeah, mainline sporting good stores carried the stuff you'd order on Tennis Warehouse today.

Also - department stores. I remember back in the 80s getting a Pro Kennex Silver Ace, a Head TXD, and a Yamaha white ceramic frame all from Dayton's in Minnesota - a department store.
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
Back in the late '60s, our local K-Mart had a separate sporting goods section. Got my first two Spalding Smashers there! $36 was all the money I got paid for working that week and it went straight to K-Mart ;)
 
Growing up in Northern California in the 1980’s, the two chain stores that I lurked in were Big 5, and later, Copeland’s.

A highlight of getting the Sunday newspaper (remember those?!) was the full-color, multi-page Big 5 ad, which used to show several different models of racquets on sale that week. Around 1982-1984, their inventory of various Donnay models, mostly wood containing, was stupefying! There was a distinct smell of leather and paint that radiated from the racquet aisle; I will never forget it.

This chain is still in business, but stopped taking the tennis market seriously around 1986. It’s a shambles now.

Copeland’s appeared in the mid-80’s, and stocked some really nice frames from the big mainstream manufacturers, until they too stopped taking tennis seriously. At times, though, they would blow out discontinued models at amazing prices... For a while in 1989, they sold rows of unstrung Head Prestige Pros for $60 each!

My favorite shops were always the mom-and-pop ski & tennis pro shops. Looking for the outdated, weird stuff on clearance was an acute joy. If I could bottle that magical mixture of curiosity, hope, and anticipation I felt when entering those places, and share it with everyone, the world would be a vastly better place.
Big 5, Copelands the Sports Authority... I get nice vibes.
They did carry decent tennis gear. Recall a Head all black radical pre intelligence series i loved. Weighed about 300 grams beam 22 mmish..
 

bobleenov1963

Professional
I grew up in a tourist coastal town in the mid-to-late 70s and there was a great sports store in town. It was the best!

It had old hardwood floors. They had a limited selection in a particular item but what they had in that particular item was the best made. If you wanted a surf board they had 3 different brands/models but they were the best. If you wanted a bike it was the same with several models all top notch. The guys knew what they were doing.

I still have my Rawlings Mike Schmidt baseball Mitt purchased from that store. My wife had it re-laced two years ago for me for Father's Day.

For tennis they had a limited selection of racquets and a room in the back that you could hit with a ball machine. it was a great store. Too bad it is long gone.
What is so great about the sport store with limited selection? These stores will not let you demo racquets like TW for a week on an actual tennis court. What is so great about these stores?

TW is the best thing for tennis, IMHO. I can demo any racquets I want to for a week and I can use the demo credit as my purchase with TW for new racquets. The process is so easy and straight forward with so many selections to choose from. Brick & Mortar is the thing of the past. The only exception to that is Apple Store.
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
What is so great about the sport store with limited selection? These stores will not let you demo racquets like TW for a week on an actual tennis court. What is so great about these stores?

TW is the best thing for tennis, IMHO. I can demo any racquets I want to for a week and I can use the demo credit as my purchase with TW for new racquets. The process is so easy and straight forward with so many selections to choose from. Brick & Mortar is the thing of the past. The only exception to that is Apple Store.
Don't discount the appeal of actually picking up/touching an item. Not everyone wants to wait for delivery (even if it's 'next day'); but would rather have the immediate gratification of taking that new item out for a spin TODAY !! I can't tell how a racket feels or a shoe fits by looking online. Brick and mortar won't be a thing of the past...ever...even with Covid...even with Prime...even with crypto currency. Nope.
 

bobleenov1963

Professional
Don't discount the appeal of actually picking up/touching an item. Not everyone wants to wait for delivery (even if it's 'next day'); but would rather have the immediate gratification of taking that new item out for a spin TODAY !! I can't tell how a racket feels or a shoe fits by looking online. Brick and mortar won't be a thing of the past...ever...even with Covid...even with Prime...even with crypto currency. Nope.
That's true BUT the store will NOT take the racquet back if you decide after taking to the racquet to the tennis court that the racquet is not for you. That's what great about racquets demo from TW. You can get multiple racquets from TW and take them to the tennis courts and demo for a week. That way, you know exactly if the racquets are right for you.
 

HBK4life

Professional
That's true BUT the store will NOT take the racquet back if you decide after taking to the racquet to the tennis court that the racquet is not for you. That's what great about racquets demo from TW. You can get multiple racquets from TW and take them to the tennis courts and demo for a week. That way, you know exactly if the racquets are right for you.
Part of the fun for me was just seeing them in person right there. All of them.
 

retrowagen

Hall of Fame
In my experience, most if not all of the “mom and pop” pro shops I saw in the 80’s and 90’s had Demo racquets... chain stores usually did not.
 

silentkman

Semi-Pro
What is so great about the sport store with limited selection? These stores will not let you demo racquets like TW for a week on an actual tennis court. What is so great about these stores?

TW is the best thing for tennis, IMHO. I can demo any racquets I want to for a week and I can use the demo credit as my purchase with TW for new racquets. The process is so easy and straight forward with so many selections to choose from. Brick & Mortar is the thing of the past. The only exception to that is Apple Store.
It's always nice to actually touch and feel something. all stores that sold tennis racquets that I have been to all had demo programs. The problem with getting demo's is the string job. I've never seen a demo with gut.
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
It's always nice to actually touch and feel something. all stores that sold tennis racquets that I have been to all had demo programs. The problem with getting demo's is the string job. I've never seen a demo with gut.
Our store would use gut from time to time. Really depended on the racket(like the Aldila Cannon of the '70s or maybe a HEAD Vilas). That was quite a commitment by the shop. Sometimes, it was an employee's racket that was "traded" back in or another return of some sort. Hard to pull the trigger on (back then) $20 strings vs $5 ;)
 

silentkman

Semi-Pro
Our store would use gut from time to time. Really depended on the racket(like the Aldila Cannon of the '70s or maybe a HEAD Vilas). That was quite a commitment by the shop. Sometimes, it was an employee's racket that was "traded" back in or another return of some sort. Hard to pull the trigger on (back then) $20 strings vs $5 ;)
that's impressive. TW appears to have a choice between multi and poly. can you really determine if you like a racquet after a week?
 

Sanglier

Semi-Pro
The small shop I worked for didn't have a racquet demo program. There was never enough traffic to justify the trouble. Indeed, I don't think we ever sold enough merchandise to be in the black the whole time I worked there. On one occasion, we even ended the day with less money in the cash register than when I opened the door in the morning - Not only was there no sale at all, but a teenager walked into the store early in the afternoon, verified that I was alone, stuck a revolver in my face (I will never forget the sight of a loaded cylinder seen from the wrong end, with someone's finger on the trigger), made sure I understood he was not kidding, then ran away with all $50 we had in the till. I was not as dedicated to the $50 as Lady Gaga's dog walker was to her dogs.

Many manufacturers did provide dedicated demo racquets however, to those operations busy enough to sustain such a program:

 
Last edited:

coachrick

Hall of Fame
that's impressive. TW appears to have a choice between multi and poly. can you really determine if you like a racquet after a week?
After over three decades of trying rackets(and helping develop one or two), I can tell in a fairly short hitting session if a racket will "work" for me. One shop I worked for insisted on stringing their demos at the high end of the recommended range(for two reasons...owner said he "never" got complaints that demo strings were too tight and presumably, the higher the starting tension, the longer the demo strings would be within the recommended range). I'm pretty sure we lost some sales on certain models that simply played better at slightly lower tensions; but I was not the owner :(
 

Ultra 2

Professional
In Orange County we had a bunch of chain stores, Big 5, Oshman’s, Copeland’s, Sportmart, Sport Chalet & Chick’s (worked at Big 5 & Chick’s). There was a small chain of Tennis stores (more like a pro shop) called Hank Lloyd’s where I bought a pair of Air Trainer 1 and a pair of Air Ace.

In Fullerton (where I grew up) there was a specialty shop called Boege’s that had a Tennis Pro shop in it, and basically can get you anything from a letterman’s jacket to a Pro Stock Rawlings Heart of the Hide baseball mitt. Man, those days are loooong gone.
 

Ultra 2

Professional
Westwood Sporting Goods. I was there about a month ago. I used to work at UCLA and would go there on my lunch hour.
Yeah, a narrow hole in the wall in Westwood Village. The last time I was in there, for some reason they had a bunch of older pro stock baseball gloves (Japanese made SSK gloves). Thought that was a little odd, but cool to see.
 

silentkman

Semi-Pro
After over three decades of trying rackets(and helping develop one or two), I can tell in a fairly short hitting session if a racket will "work" for me. One shop I worked for insisted on stringing their demos at the high end of the recommended range(for two reasons...owner said he "never" got complaints that demo strings were too tight and presumably, the higher the starting tension, the longer the demo strings would be within the recommended range). I'm pretty sure we lost some sales on certain models that simply played better at slightly lower tensions; but I was not the owner :(
Thanks for the great information. details on the racquets you help develop. i got burned once with a Prince racquet that i thought was good and a week later I hated it. I do understand the owners logic regarding the strings. I just buy the racquet and hope for the best after extensive research.
 

heftylefty

Hall of Fame
Yeah, a narrow hole in the wall in Westwood Village. The last time I was in there, for some reason they had a bunch of older pro stock baseball gloves (Japanese made SSK gloves). Thought that was a little odd, but cool to see.
Supposedly they string for a few pros that are local to LA. I am glad they're still in business.
 

bobleenov1963

Professional
Thanks for the great information. details on the racquets you help develop. i got burned once with a Prince racquet that i thought was good and a week later I hated it. I do understand the owners logic regarding the strings. I just buy the racquet and hope for the best after extensive research.
This is why I love purchasing racquets from TW. When my son and daughter were still playing tennis, I get the demo racquets that I want to tryout after researching them. Once I get the demo racquets from TW, I cutoff the string that come with the racquet and put NG on the main and Luxilon on the cross. The racquet will get a test drive for the next seven days, like 3 hours everyday. By the 5th day, the string on the racquet will be gone (aka broken). At that point, they will know for sure the racquet(s) are suitable for them.

I then return the racquet(s) to TW and get the demo credit towards my purchase of the new racquet from TW. I don't think any mom and pop shop can match the price and that kind of service. That's the main reason that mom and pop business just can't compete with the behemoth TW in price and service.
 

silentkman

Semi-Pro
This is why I love purchasing racquets from TW. When my son and daughter were still playing tennis, I get the demo racquets that I want to tryout after researching them. Once I get the demo racquets from TW, I cutoff the string that come with the racquet and put NG on the main and Luxilon on the cross. The racquet will get a test drive for the next seven days, like 3 hours everyday. By the 5th day, the string on the racquet will be gone (aka broken). At that point, they will know for sure the racquet(s) are suitable for them.

I then return the racquet(s) to TW and get the demo credit towards my purchase of the new racquet from TW. I don't think any mom and pop shop can match the price and that kind of service. That's the main reason that mom and pop business just can't compete with the behemoth TW in price and service.
Here we go again. For people who have jobs it's impossible to play three hours everyday. to test a new frame. I think most people in this discussion are Adults. It's so wonderful that you can afford to put your hybrid in a demo racquet. $$$$$$$
 

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
That's true BUT the store will NOT take the racquet back if you decide after taking to the racquet to the tennis court that the racquet is not for you. That's what great about racquets demo from TW. You can get multiple racquets from TW and take them to the tennis courts and demo for a week. That way, you know exactly if the racquets are right for you.
All of the tennis shops in town when I was a kid had demo racquets. Not sure what you mean...
 

texacali

Rookie
Oshman's sporting goods circa 1988, san dimas ca. the Donnay's are in the back behind Genghis.
Oshman's sporting goods circa 1988, san dimas ca. the Donnay's are in the back behind Genghis.
Oshman's sporting goods circa 1988, san dimas ca. the Donnay's are in the back behind Genghis.
Bought all of my rackets there in the 70's...Kramer Auto, Stan Smith Auto, Yamaha YFG 30 and 20. The YFG 20 cost me $20.00...first purchase with first ever paycheck. Before it was Oshman's in my town, it was "Stan's for Sports".
 

texacali

Rookie
Growing up in Northern California in the 1980’s, the two chain stores that I lurked in were Big 5, and later, Copeland’s.

A highlight of getting the Sunday newspaper (remember those?!) was the full-color, multi-page Big 5 ad, which used to show several different models of racquets on sale that week. Around 1982-1984, their inventory of various Donnay models, mostly wood containing, was stupefying! There was a distinct smell of leather and paint that radiated from the racquet aisle; I will never forget it.

This chain is still in business, but stopped taking the tennis market seriously around 1986. It’s a shambles now.

Copeland’s appeared in the mid-80’s, and stocked some really nice frames from the big mainstream manufacturers, until they too stopped taking tennis seriously. At times, though, they would blow out discontinued models at amazing prices... For a while in 1989, they sold rows of unstrung Head Prestige Pros for $60 each!

My favorite shops were always the mom-and-pop ski & tennis pro shops. Looking for the outdated, weird stuff on clearance was an acute joy. If I could bottle that magical mixture of curiosity, hope, and anticipation I felt when entering those places, and share it with everyone, the world would be a vastly better place.
I was at a Nationals in AZ couple of years ago and there was a Big 5 nearby...bought some overgrips there. I used to hit up Copeland's for my skis and other ski gear (not playing tennis back then)...and discount shoes was a big reason to go there also.
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
Great thread. I fondly recall going to CMT sporting goods in roanoke va as a kid in the late 80s and just looking at ALL the sports equipment. Tennis was my favorite, but they had everything. Could have spent hours there.

More recently Todd and Moore in Columbia has a nice mom and pop feel with a nice tennis offering. Always made a point to go in there and chat it up with the stringer and buy something I didn’t necessarily need just to support the local shop.
 
Top